365 project

Day 333 – V-day, but not as you know it

Day 333 – Feb 14th

Its Valentines day, and now we’re parents its a long way from where it used to be. Our little people do tend to get in the way a little bit, but we love them so much, we don’t mind.

Thankfully I have an amazing wife who doesn’t get that excited over valentines day. Sure she appreciates me remembering to get a card and buy a few small gifts, but I know she’d be genuinely be annoyed if I threw money away on overpriced flowers that are a fraction of the price on any other day. Its not like I don’t buy flowers on other days… well, I do, but I don’t buy them as much as I should. I mean I don’t seem to remember to buy them as much as I used to, but the point is that I still do buy them randomly throughout the year, not because I am apologising for anything, just because I know she’ll enjoy them.

I make a point of telling her I love her regularly, and that she looks beautiful, the little things that matter. So while its nice to make a little effort on valentines day, we aren’t too crushed that it doesn’t get the attention it used to before we had kids or were married, and felt an obligation to make a point about celebrating what is essentially just an excuse for guilt ridden men to throw money at demanding girlfriends now.

If you’re a guy and you have a significant other that isn’t one of those demanding wives/girlfriends, then make sure she knows you appreciate her, she’s a keeper!

365 project, Photography

Day 332 – No excuses!

Day 332 – Feb 13th

Right, I need to get my ass back in the gym and I need to stop making excuses about it! Yeah, my foot may still be hurting, and running is clearly out of the question for a little while, but thats the way its got to be. I can’t keep complaining about it, I need to change my plan for a little while.

One bit of exercise I really don’t mind is the walk round to pick Olivia up from nursery when I get home from work. Now I seem to have a little shadow joining me on my walk, Chloe also gets quite excited about the walk to nursery and insists on joining me. The cold snap that we seem to be stuck in means wrapping up a bit though. Its not a long walk, but its long enough to get cold if you’re not wearing enough. Still, its a nice excuse for us all to stretch our legs, as I refuse to take the car unless its pouring with rain.

Once the girls are in bed, its gym time. There is something I have been thinking about trying, and that is spinning. Its like an exercise bike, but with a big computer screen attached to it, and with no idea what I am doing, I have avoided using it up until now. Still, with a need for prolonged cardio, and no way of running for the next week or maybe even longer, it seems like now is the perfect time to try something a little different.

365 project, Photography

Day 331 – Get well soon Nanny

Day 331 – Feb 12th

Its so cold out, one of the coldest February’s that I remember for a while. We’ve seen ice and snow on and off for weeks now. The snow rarely settles, but we’re having fairly regular flurries of it, and we did have a couple of big snow days in December where it did settle, and our road was inaccessible by anything other than a 4×4 for a number of days.

Icy roads and a 220kg motorcycle don’t mix, and so in favour of staying upright, I decided to cycle to work today. The lightness of the bicycle and the lack of power through the wheel mean that I stand a better chance of not going over in the ice, and a far better chance of picking it up if I do!

Having the motorbike and being all wrapped up in weather proof biker gear seems to be turning me into a bit of a fairweather cyclist, something I have never been for the past 6 years. Cycling in the rain is definitely a miserable and unrewarding experience, but I don’t mind cycling in the cold so much, even the icy cold. There is definitely something really good about the way you physically feel when you get to work after cycling there, it really wakes you up and gives you a bit of a boost at the start of the day.

The real challenge was cycling home though. I know from experience, but studying the gradient on Strava verified my thoughts, that the route home in around 90% uphill, which explains why it always takes far longer for me to get home than it takes to get to work. When I came out of work it was like I was being slapped in the face with a cold, wet hand, it was bitterly cold and as the first part out of work is a short downhill section, there is no way to warm up quickly, you just have to grit your teeth and know that the ice cold blast in your face will be over soon!

At home I was soon changed and warming up again, and found that Olivia had made the card in today’s photo for her nanny who has to go back into hospital for a day. She makes me so proud, I know she’ll do well at school when she starts this year!

365 project, Photography

Day 330 – It’s not big or clever

Day 330 – Feb 11th

There’s one thing I certainly didn’t miss over January, and that was hangovers. Something I don’t suffer hugely from quite so much these days, mostly because we don’t seem to go out all that often any more, I only really drink at home at the weekends, and consequently rarely drink particularly large amounts in that situation.

Last night I hadn’t planned to go crazy, I was only catching up with friends, but knew that after a month off the booze, it may hit me a little harder than normal. I didn’t think I was doing too badly, considering, that was until those shots came out, at least. Things changed after that.

I was definitely paying for those shots now.

Still, it was Sunday and it was a day with the family that I didn’t want to miss out on because of a few too many drinks the night before. I knew a good meal would fix me up, and managed to book a table for the four of us at our favourite carvery for lunch. The girls, although placated with something to watch on the iPads whilst waiting for food, were as good as gold, and sat so well. I am sure most groups, when sat next to a two year old and a four year old, would be rolling their eyes waiting for the noise to begin and their meal to be ruined as they tut while they eat. Our girls did us proud and hardly uttered a sound, you wouldn’t have known they were there.

Olivia had been asking to go swimming, and whilst I enjoy taking them both, Chloe was a full blown snot producing machine this weekend, and so had to stay at home. Thankfully after lunch she went down for a nap anyway, and so it was the perfect opportunity for us to sneak out. I always like to try and arrange to meet friends there, although we’d left it a little bit too last minute, and so it was just the two of us this time. Still good fun, all the same.

Some good food and a splash in the pool helped me feel a little better, if only I could master this “getting to bed early” thing!!

365 project, Photography

Day 329 – I sure ain’t 21 any more

Day 329 – Feb 10th

Our Saturday started with Olivia’s dance lesson, as usual, although it involved me taking her instead this week, while the wife stayed at home with Chloe. The nice thing about these dance lessons is that they don’t start until 10:30am meaning we can take it nice and slow in the morning, and don’t have to rush to get ready.

This evening it was my turn to cook dinner, as we had put a chicken and chorizo jambalaya on the menu, a delicious dish thats fairly easy to prepare, but for some reason has always been one of those dishes that the wife has left me to cook. I do quite enjoy cooking, but don’t seem to get many chances to do it at the moment while the wife is off work. Its easy to get used to someone else cooking the dinner all the time, and whilst I certainly don’t take the wife for granted, and initially did miss cooking a bit, you soon get over as it is quite nice to be cooked for, but this scenario won’t last forever, I’ll no doubt be doing a lot more of the cooking once the wife goes back to work.

Tonight’s meal wasn’t the sort of dish we normally give the girls, but to our surprise they both ate some of it anyway, although Olivia needed a little more coaxing than Chloe, but it still gives me the green light to cook it again soon.

Then… it was time. I’d got approval from the wife to go out and met my friends for some drinks up town. I say I’d got approval from the wife, only because it was supposed to be her night out with friends. Her night was pre-planned, and mine was last minute, but as it happened, hers was postponed anyway, so I could go. I do miss the days when we went out together, having the girls has really put the brakes on those sorts of night, but I’m sure we’ll be able to get back into it soon as the girls are sleeping better now.

I jumped in a taxi to head out and meet my friends. Normally I get the bus, but it was cold, the weather was miserable, and I didn’t want to be hanging around waiting and end up being late. A good night was had, but it seemed that some of the group had itchy feet and kept wanting to move from one bar to another, which was fine until the rain started pouring and after a few drinks no-one quite knew where they were going.

When someone said the word “shots”, I knew the evening was about to get messy, and after a few shots, I was done! Time to jump in a taxi and head home… before losing my phone in the taxi and having a moment of panic at 1:30am until the kind taxi driver brought it back. After having my nice, expensive iPhone only 3 months, I was quite relieved to be reunited with it again. Half an hour felt like forever!

I seem to be out of practise with these nights out!

365 project, Photography

Day 328 – Friday first world problems

Day 328 – Feb 9th

The end of the week always feels like a little celebration, no alarm clock in the morning and 48 hours at home with the family.

Tonight we were having some proper Friday night food, pizza and chips, perfect to start the weekend off with, free from nutrition, but full of taste! At least the chips are home made and oven cooked, so not quite as unhealthy as they could be. I stopped off on my way home from work to grab a couple of beers, which was about all I could manage to squeeze into my rucksack as I was on the motorbike and still haven’t had a box fitted to the back.

The real Friday night starts when dinner is done and the girls are in bed though, and tonights viewing pleasure was a film I’d bought on iTunes recently, The Last King Of Scotland. Forrest Whitaker is a fantastic actor and plays an amazing part in this story, and the wife even stayed awake through this one, which I wasn’t really expecting. Trying to work out which kind of films she will or won’t enjoy (as she always refuses to choose a film) is an almost impossible task. Just when I think I’ve worked it out, she falls asleep at one that I thought would be a hit, and stays awake at one I didn’t think she’d be especially interested in.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I am never going to win, women are quite simply just too confusing, I may as well just roll a dice on movie night!

365 project

Day 327 – Feeling a little cheated

Day 327 – Feb 8th

My intentions to get to bed early haven’t been going well, I’m slipping back into old ways again, and not getting enough sleep. Still, it’s an old habit, and they die hard, I’ll just keep trying again, every day.

Last night was another example of not getting to bed early enough, and I was kicking myself again when the alarm went off in the morning. It’s too late by then though, all you can do, as I do every morning, is promise to try harder that evening.

I really wanted to get three gym sessions in this week, my chest was fine after the last run, and I was keen to get back in this evening. Sure, I was a little tired, but I always am in the morning. I wouldn’t be going to the gym until the girls were in bed, so I had plenty of time to find some energy from somewhere. Failing that, I’d just go on a Friday night instead… but really, who wants to spend Friday evening in the gym?

As it turned out, I was feeling good by the time the girls were in bed, I packed my bag and off I went. I started with the usual 10 minute warm up on the exercise bike to get my muscles warmed up and my heart pumping, and I was still feeling good. Onto the treadmill, my new playlist was on to keep me motivated, and I was off. Five minutes in, feeling good, ten minutes and still fine, fifteen minutes and I am feeling really positive. I’d lost myself in the music and I was in the zone!

When I am running for long periods I never look at the big picture, I always break the run down and make my targets smaller. If I am running for 50 minutes, my first goal is to get to 10 minutes, then I’ll give myself a little “well done” in my head and treat myself to a quick drink before focusing on getting to 20 minutes. These 10 minute goals are easier to focus on and make the whole run less daunting.

I was now at 18 minutes and noticed a twinge in my heel. I’ve suffered with a problem in my heel, linked to the tendon since September. Some orthotic insoles have really helped, but it’s always worse the day after a run. I’d felt it this morning, but figured that it would be okay, it turned out that my fears that I hadn’t rested enough were right. Just a minute or so later and I am in considerable pain. I’d considered pushing on and running through it, a common runners fault, but this pain was telling me to listen to my body. I was struggling to even keep on running to reach the 20 minute mark. There was no way I was going to make 50 minutes, or even half distance.

My goal is to be easily running 90 minutes and looking to increase my pace, ahead of the half marathon I’m training for in May. This was a set back I could really do without, but pushing on was only going to make things worse. I had to accept the sad truth that regardless of how good I was feeling, I was done for today, and I’d probably need to give my heel at least a weeks rest… if not longer! No runner likes to give up, especially when they have a goal, something big to train for, but today I was beaten. It was fairly crushing, I felt like I was on such good form.

The worst bit about it? Not knowing if it’s going to be a few days rest, or a few weeks before I’m running again!

Fingers crossed!

365 project, Photography

Day 326 – Its like being naked, but with clothes on

Day 326 – Feb 7th

Hump day – that magical point in the week where you start forgetting about Monday morning, and start looking forward to Friday afternoon instead. When they can throw anything at you, and you can cope with it because Friday is coming, right?! Well, almost, in fact there isn’t much that can ruin this point in the week, the only thing better than hump day is Friday itself… that is of course, if you remembered to pick your phone up before you left the house in the morning.

You did remember, right? Well, hell, no I didn’t! Damn it!

Is there any worse feeling in this modern age, besides actually losing it completely? Yes, even knowing that I may well get home to no missed calls, no new messages, and only a couple of facebook notifications that probably aren’t that relevant to me anyway.

It does suck, but I have a trump card up my sleeve… my work iPad! I can thankfully still access all my iTunes music, Twitter, Amazon and even my iMessages meaning that I am still in contact with the wife. So its not like a have to detach myself from technology completely. Working in a school setting means that a good portion of the internet is heavily filtered for the pupils protection as ICT is a huge part of every day learning, so it does restrict your access to certain things while you are using the school network, and sometimes the most random harmless site can be blocked for the silliest of reasons, not because it actually contains anything dodgy.

It’s always nice to get home and have the reassurance that your phone is at hand though, and check it just to confirm that you do indeed have no missed calls and no missed messages, and yes there are only a handful of Facebook notifications, most of which don’t really apply to me anyway!

Leaving the house without our phones is about as close as we can imagine feeling to having walked out of the house without a stitch of clothing on, except we are fully dressed and no-one is giving us funny looks, at least for no reason that we can work out anyway.

The only thing is, when I get home I have these two pretty little things wanting my attention, and so any glances at the phone are only brief anyway, before it has to go on the shelf out of the way… well that is until we watch the Zootropolis Blu Ray again for about the one hundredth time, and I lose the girls to the tv screen for a good half an hour!

365 project

Day 325 – Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop me


Day 325 – Feb 6th

I made it! Back in the gym after being absent for almost two weeks. The body loses fitness far faster than it gains it, so I was keen the leave the shortest time between visits, even though my chest hasn’t cleared up completely.

Knowing that my chest may not clear up for a couple of weeks yet, I had to come up with a plan. I couldn’t wait that long, I’d lose all the benefits of the last few weeks healthy eating and extended runs at the gym. I decided on hitting the gym anyway and doing some weights if cardio wasn’t an option, but once I’d committed myself to the idea that I was returning to the gym tonight, I began to wonder if I could at least manage a short run.

Once home from work and with the girls in bed, I headed out to the gym and gave some more thought to how much of a “short” run I could actually manage. Once there and changed, I climbed on to the treadmill and thought to myself “well 20-30 mins was my goal, let’s just set the timer for the 50 minutes I ran last time I was here, and see what happens”. So that’s exactly what I did. After a 10 minutes warm-up on the exercise bike, my playlist was on, and I was on the treadmill putting one foot in front of the other.

I was close to 40 minutes in before I started to struggle a bit, but managed to push on to 50 minutes, which I was super pleased about. I’d still got it, after 2 weeks off. This gave me hope for pushing on to 55 minutes next week, and then an hour the week after.

The road to success is a long and slow one, but progress is progress, no matter how small!

365 project

Day 324 – Just another Monday

Day 324 – Feb 5th

Every day is special when I have my girls and my wife around me, but it does feel like some days are on a bit of a loop.

Today was just another Monday where the relentless cold weather makes going out and doing anything feel like a real effort.we seem to spend a lot of time indoors with the tv on, and feel like we’re just killing time until the spring arrives. At least the days are getting visibly longer, I’m going to work in daylight and getting home in daylight, a clear indicator that change is happening, but this cold snap does not feel like it’s going anywhere. Riding the motorbike to work is still fun, but every morning when I get there I feel like my fingers have been caught in a slamming door! The ice on the roads is a constant risk, but the only alternative is to cycle to work, which I haven’t been doing for two reasons. Firstly, with the extra running I’ve been doing recently, my legs are frequently tired and aching in the morning, which is fine the day after a big run, I expect it, but I really want to give them a good chance to recover as quick as possible so I can run again in a couple of days. The second reason is the germs that seem to be dominating our house at the moment. I ended up with a nasty cold for a few days, not unsurprising for this time of year, although by late January you do start to get a sense of hope that you’ve managed to successfully avoid all the winter germs! The problem is, that like so many times before, the germs have settled on my chest yet again, causing me to cough up all sorts of nasty stuff. It’s a whole bunch of no-fun! All I want to do is exercise and get fit, my mind is in the right place, and I have the determination to do it, but I can’t with this bad chest!

I will be so glad when the spring is here, the weather turns, and we can get outdoors and walk, run, explore, breath in some fresh air, and start leaving the house windows open again.

I had considered a return to the gym this week, I haven’t run in two weeks, but tonight isn’t going to be the night, as we’ve been asked to baby sit for a friend. With the wife feeling extra yucky these last few days, it’s down to me to head over and fulfil our promise. Thankfully they are only popping out for a short while, although it still won’t leave me enough time to get to the gym tonight . Maybe tomorrow instead.