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Day 139 – there isn’t room to swing a cat in here

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Day 139 – Aug 3rd

Rain, rain, endless rain, its like the weather has forgotten what month it is! Thankfully my plan for today involved spending more time in the garage in an attempt to get it into some kind of order. There is only so much I can throw out, regardless of how ruthless I want to be. Its not the most exciting way to spend my time off work, but a necessary task all the same.

It has been four years, almost to the day, since we moved into this house. It was the end of four months of a huge project to modernise it, rewiring it, plastering walls, putting in a new heating system, new kitchen and new bathroom after the wife’s grandparents had lived in it for many years before us. We moved in with just a couple of weeks to spare before Olivia was due to be born, and loved our new home.

In hindsight, we knew the house was a little smaller than we’d have liked, and if we’d been looking at any other house that had no emotional attachment to it we would have almost certainly found something slightly bigger. One of the primary reasons for buying this house was because of the wife’s grandparents having previously owned, but now it was sat empty, and this way it stayed in the family… plus it was on a beautiful tree lined cul-de-sac and we were only a short walk from the in-laws.

At least with this house, even though smaller than we’d have liked, we had a decent sized garage running along the full length of the house. With it being too narrow to actually get a car in, it made for a great storage space for everything else that we couldn’t squeeze into the house or garden. Today was a day to reclaim some of that space back!

If you’re off work over the summer, what plans are you making?

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Day 040 – A life without dreams is like a garden without flowers

Day 40 – Apr 26th

Welcome back! Its nice to see people returning. It has me wondering, what is it that people come back for? Are you here for the daily photo, or are you feeling compelled to read my ramblings?
Well, Wednesday means hump day, the next weekend is now closer than the previous one, and Monday morning is almost a distant memory. We’re a step closer to a long weekend, but what to do with a bank holiday? The weather forecast isn’t looking great, but we should probably try and make a few plans anyway. It would be nice to get out somewhere that I could take some nice photos, somewhere a little scenic with the girls.

Todays photo was taken in the afternoon sun, outside the house, in fact just in my neigbours front garden. Bluebells seem to have spread like wildfire down our road in the last week or so, and even into our back garden. Such a pretty sight! I am really hoping we can go on a bluebell walk at some point, as we missed out last year.

On a totally unrelated issue, one thing happened to me today that caused me to stop and give some consideration. As I was browsing through facebook, which I often do several times a day, I was looking through my friends list, with the intention of having a bit if a clearout. Nothing significant, just a bit of spring cleaning, people I’d had little or no interactions with, when I came across someone on my friends list who had died in recent weeks. I was now faced with what is a fairly new moral dilemma, a sign of the times you could say, of trying to figure out what the correct etiquette is in this new, modern situation. The person in question happened to be a work colleague that had only added me as a friend a few weeks before he passed away, and although he seemed to be a pleasant chap, I can’t say I really knew him at all, or had even had a single conversation with him. I couldn’t even really say that we were actual friends, I only really accepted his friend request out of politeness, as he seemed fairly harmless and we’d seen each other around the place for long enough to know who each other was.

It was, of course, very sad when he passed away, it was very unexpected and the news came out of the blue, as a complete shock to everyone, and clearly a lot of the staff knew him a lot better than I did, he seemed to be quite a popular person. Of course, this doesn’t detract from the fact that we still barely knew each other. Instead of just ignoring this point and leaving it, the direct result of being connected via facebook was that I now kept getting daily posts from his bereaved family appearing on my page, expressing their sorrow. Yes, of course it was all very sad, but these are still posts from people I don’t know about someone (with all respect to him) that I barely knew at all.

Yet I still felt a pang of guilt when I hit the ‘unfriend’ button, but why? I had no reason to remain connected, it will serve no purpose, even though I still have other people on my friends list that have passed away, people I knew much better, but I don’t have the heart to unfriend them yet, even though it has been a few years. So what is the right thing to do in this situation? What would you do?

Day 025 – If flowers on a sunny day don’t make you smile, check your pulse

Day 25 – Apr 11th

Tuesday, Olivia is in nursery and its time to get productive around the house. Well, I say house, but todays big focus is the garage. Its gone from storage area, to dumping ground, to very crowded dumping ground, to very crowded dumping ground with a motorbike in it. I was going to leave this until the summer holidays, but it needs some attention, and without any other plans for the day, may as well start it now.

There is still a bit of sunshine around, even though the temperature is going down, so I managed to grab a photo of the blossom tree outside the house as it basked in the afternoon sun. The blossoms are out now, and make the road look beautiful, its just a shame they only last for a couple of weeks. By the time May is here the trees will be empty again and there will be a blanket of pink on the ground. So lets just enjoy it while we can.

Day 009 – Men are what their mothers made them

Day 9 – Mar 26th

It is a celebration of mothers all over the world, of motherhood and all the wonderful things are mothers do for us. Mothers day in the UK fell on a beautiful sunny day this year, and we had planned to go out for a drive and some lunch with the girls, with Stratford being top of the likely list. That was until the germs kicked in, and the poor wife is too sick to go out.

We didn’t have a plan B, but obviously we weren’t going to be leaving the house on any road trips today. With the wife feeling rough, it seemed like the best thing to get the girls out of the house for a while, give her a bit of peace and quiet, and get a few bits for lunch at the same time as we were clearly going to be eating at home instead. The wife didn’t have much of an appetite, but I cooked a Sunday roast all the same, and was pleased to see her tucking into her food when I served it up. I took the girls out so they still got to see grandparents on both sides, and we could at least drop cards off so the day wasn’t a total loss, even if we didn’t get to enjoy a family day out in Stratford-Upon-Avon in the sunshine. Sometimes that’s how it goes though, the best laid plans of mice and men, and all that!

What did everyone else do for mothers day?

Day 001 – its back! 365 photos to document the year!

Day 1 – Mar 18th

Okay, so most 365 projects are started on the 1st of January, almost like its a photographers new years resolution to make sure they pick up the camera every day and complete a project. I have completed three of these 365 projects now, and know I can do it, and after the last one I decided to take a break, because as much as I enjoyed it, it can become a burden having to make sure that every single day you’ve not only picked up your camera, but taken a photo worth talking about! Last year I uploaded my photos in bulk and put a big post about all the photos that were included in it, but I missed the daily uploads and short blogs, so I am going to attempt that format again and see how it goes!

This photo was from a flower stand set up at the Photography Show at the NEC for people to practise their flower shots and macro images. I Have done enough close up shots of flowers for now, and may well end up doing some throughout the year anyway, so I don’t want to burn out on day one! Normally I drive there and get fleeced on the parking, this year I went on the motorbike and could park for free which was a real bonus!

Shortly after getting home we all headed out as a family to see our friends new little baby, a lovely way to spend an afternoon!

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Well that’s another week done and dusted, and its been a bit of a busy one. I don’t get much time to slow down at the weekend either, because tomorrow its time for this…

Yes, its Tough Mudder 2014!

I still find it hard to believe that I have signed up for this for the second year in a row. Last year was, well for want of a better word… tough! Still, I have had nowhere near enough training, but then again I am running as part of a group who probably also haven’t trained enough, and so with all the cycling I’ve been doing, I at least think there won’t be a problem of keeping up with them! It will mean a reasonably early start and an hours drive over to Northampton, after picking up the rest of the team from work in one of the minibuses. I need to write down a list of things to take before I go to bed, as I will never remember everything in the morning, I know what I am like. Unless it is laid out somewhere blatantly obvious, there is only a 50/50 chance at best that I’ll remember it, and that’s if I am on time and not rushing!

Today was a day of trying to stay focussed at work, whilst feeling on the wind down to the summer holidays, which are now just over a week away. Six weeks of daddy day care, and a different kind of summer holiday compared to what I am used to. Normally it means six weeks of freedom, all the sleep I could need, and the chance to go away if I wanted to, but now life is different, in a fantastic way, and summer holidays, amongst other things, have changed forever! I have no idea what I am going to do with a toddler for six weeks, although thankfully the wife is off for the first week as well, which means that hopefully we can get out and do things as a family for a few days at least.

The photo for today was taken from the garden. I had wanted to get it a bit earlier when it was brighter outside, but after getting distracted, suddenly realised that it was quickly starting to get dark, and so I had to run with the camera to get this while there was still just about enough light outside. I have been slowly working on the garden over several months, trying to get weeds up, cut bushes down, and grow some flowers from seed, of which I have managed to plant a few. I have more seeds in the greenhouse that have started shooting up, which will need planting out soon, and hopefully the borders will have taken shape by the time Olivia’s first birthday party rolls around in two months time. Our other big job was the garden fence, which was broken before we moved in and was battered by the storms earlier in the year. The good news is that we now have wooden panels on order for it, which we will be fitting on the first day of the school holidays thanks to some help from my sisters partner. It means I can properly focus on that side of the garden when it is done, as I wasn’t wanting to plant much due to the risk of it being trampled on by the process of fitting fences. Hopefully I can get some more flowers down in time before the party takes place and we will have a half decent looking garden, although tonight I had to head out and tackle part of the garden with weed killer as the top of the garden by the greenhouse has become overgrown and slightly out of control. With us wanting to put decking down at the top, I need it cleared as soon as possible. The weedkiller is the only way, as I really don’t mind if nothing grows back there at all, as once we have decking down, I don’t want any green shoots of any kind popping up through it.

Right, quite literally a “tough” day ahead tomorrow, so I am off to bed now!

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A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
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I can’t lie, I wasn’t feeling the love for Monday morning today, guess I was just feeling a bit run down. Thankfully I still had the rental car, as it wasn’t due back until this evening, so I figured I’d give myself a day off the cycling to let my body build itself back up. It was nice to relax and be able to forget about what the weather was doing.

Its a funny time at the moment, we’re in the middle of the shortest term I’ve ever known whilst working in a school, and even though it feels like we’ve only just come back from the easter holidays, there is actually only 9 school days left until the next half term holiday. This term will fly by… but that’s not necessarily a good thing, this term is all that Clare has off work with Olivia. Neither of us are happy about this. I wish I had the money to allow her to stay at home and look after Olivia for longer, but those bills need a-payin’!! Ideally, with half term being her last week off, I’d like to have celebrated the occasion with a few days away at the seaside or somewhere, but sadly Clare has already filled up a few of the days with various things which makes this virtually impossible now. The good news is that after half term, its only 7 more weeks to the start of the summer holidays and Clare has managed to book the first week off work, so maybe we can do something then instead?! I need a bit of sea air and some sand between my toes!

So todays photo was taken with the idea of it not taking up too much of my time, as I was promising myself an early night in bed. I found these beautiful flowers growing in the back garden, but I didn’t want it to be another close up of a flower shot, I decided to get a bit more of the flower in and also get low down to include the colourful back drop of forget-me-nots that seem to be tearing their way through the garden! I need to get out in the garden this week and dig up a few more bushes and weeds, as we have the garden refuse bins collected this week, and I need to make sure its full up as there is so much to go in it. I can’t really afford to let these weeds go running riot through the garden and not be filling up the green garden bin with them! What’s really frustrating is the big flower bed running along one side of the garden that has been fully dug up and cleared, that I want to plant more flower seeds in, but can’t as they will get trampled on when it is time to replace the broken garden fence. The fence was already in poor condition when we moved in, but the storms we had earlier in the year have just battered them. We have been on the case, but it would appear we’re not the only ones and virtually all the suppliers have run out of fencing panels. We have someone for the job, but they can’t do it until the panels are in stock, and until then we can’t really get any flowers down or they’ll just get walked all over. All I want is a lovely colourful garden ready for Olivia’s first birthday so we can put a family & friends bbq on. Olivia’s first birthday is coming whether we like it or not, and providing the weather is good, the bbq will happen, but it would be really nice if the garden was looking good too! Anyway, I digress, the photo was what I was talking about. I took a few different shots, but liked this one. With the picture taken I was hoping for a quick blog post and off to bed, but an unexpectedly long phone call in between has set me back a bit.

But now it is actually time for bed! G’night all!

45.365.2014

“Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.”

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Britain was all set to take another battering today from the weather, and so in advance I’d already decided to abandon the bike ride and take the car in to work. I needed to take some stuff into work and take stuff home that I just wouldn’t be able to carry on the bike. My sister popped in at lunch time to hand in an application form and say hello to me, although I had to get some prep done and was a bit anxious about a meeting I had at the end of the day, which turned out to be quite smooth and straightforward anyway in the end, and nothing to actually worry about at all! Before I knew it, the day was over and it was time to head home and start my week off work!

I stopped off at the supermarket on the way home to pick up some supplies for dessert tonight, and got home as soon as I could to see the wife and daughter. The weather, which had been fairly calm all for most of the day had turned bonkers at this point, the rain was lashing down and stuff was blowing all over the place, and still is now as I type this, about to go to bed! This valentines day it was the wife’s turn to cook dinner, and she made a truly amazing job of it. Not only was tonights dinner absolutely delicious, but she had also baked some home made bread to go with it. I was in heaven! We turned off the tv and put on some nice chilled out music, and lit up the candles. It was a fantastic evening. Sure I’d love to go out to a restaurant, but we can do that any night, and I’d rather be spending the night at home, just me and the wife (obviously Olivia too, but she was in bed asleep for most of it!) without being stuck in a restaurant on the busiest day of the year, waiting ages for food and drink, being served by overworked people who are tired and quite frankly just want to go home and then having to wait around again just so we can pay! Nah, give me the quiet night in with the wife any day. I was looking forward to cuddling up on the sofa after we’d finished eating, and watching a good film together, sadly Clare lasted about 3 minuted before falling asleep (no surprise!) and leaving the choice all up to me… but before I could start rubbing my hands with glee and go hunting through all the man- films, I realised it was time to get this blog done and be getting to bed! I am burnt out this week and looking forward to the alarm clock not going off in the morning!

40.365.2014

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

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I can’t lie, this weekend has been lovely! I’m a lucky guy, and I’ve been able to spend two whole days with my two favourite ladies. The weekend has gone way too quickly again, I can’t believe Sunday night has rolled around already, but it is fair to say that I have enjoyed every minute of it. In days gone by I’d enjoy crazy nights out on the Saturday and be grateful for the Sunday to recover, but now I am a parent life is a little different! In fact, if anything, I am enjoying my weekends more than I ever used to! Today I decided to make the most of my day and drew up a to-do list in the morning. We had friends due over for lunch, which meant I had limited hours to get everything done, still achievable, but it needed a bit of planning! First I was off to the tip to clear out some stuff from the garage, passing by halfords on the way back to replace the broken headlight bulb. That left me with just enough time to get to B&Q to buy some more loft insulation to finish filling in the last spot in the loft as we’re expecting a bit of a cold spell next week. I got home just in time for a shower before our friends Richard and Tracy turned up for lunch with their little boy. It was a lovely afternoon and Clare took care of the food today, which was delicious! Our guests brought a bottle of red wine with them, but didn’t want any, so I made sure it didn’t go to waste. We all had a really nice time, and I look forward to catching up with them again soon. That evening, after our friends had left, Clare headed out to the shop to buy some Sunday evening snacks to go with our film, A Bronx Tale, while I settled Olivia in her cot and jumped in the loft to throw the insulation down. Now its time to put the film on and for a little more red wine to go with our snacks!

I took todays photo this morning in the front garden, I spotted some flowers shooting up which gave me a little hope that spring could be on the way, but the reality is that we still haven’t had a big freeze yet or any snow. These two things never miss a year, and we are going to have to face them at some point, which is a little frustrating as the weeks roll by as I really want to get some vegetable seeds planted so we can get this allotment moving again this year.

1.365.2014 – A new chapter begins…

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

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… And so 2014 begins. It was a pleasant evening in with my wife and daughter, watching The Hangover Part III and Hunger Games before putting the tv back on to see in the new year was lovely. This morning started very wet, windy and grey, but we didn’t have any big plans for the day besides lunch at my moms house, which is pretty much all we’ve done today. I was up first to bring Olivia down while Clare slept in a bit, which left me spending the rest of the day trying to keep my eyes open! Have spent a little while this evening going through the years photos from 2013 with Clare which was a lovely reminder of the years activities and events. I can’t wait to see what this year is going to bring us. With so much going on last year, and the year feeling like it had gone so fast, I am really looking forward to slowing down a bit and seeing more friends and family. We want to have more friends over for dinner and definitely get some more bbq’s on this summer. In terms of resolutions, I gave those up a long time ago, I don’t necessarily believe that January 1st should be the only day for starting new things, in fact in some cases it can be a bad thing. Take people giving up smoking for example, if they try and fail then its a whole year before they will even consider trying again. Don’t get me wrong, its a great time and idea to stop and reflect and maybe make plans for the year, but I say don’t commit yourself to only attempting your plans on one single day. For example, myself, I have to lose at least a stone in weight, and get my running back on after last years knee injury. I managed to lose about a stone and a half in the second half of 2012, just before I started last years project. I used a combination of cardio exercises, including running and cycling, along with the popular iPhone app myfitnesspal which was easy to use, although I let things go a bit last year with fixing up the house, moving, and Olivia arriving. Now I have no excuse, I am feeling particularly bloated after all the good Christmas food and drink, and have probably put on half a stone in the last couple of months alone! For the moment, I still have food and drink to get rid of, I’m not even going to pretend that its not going to tempt me. I plan on making the most of the last few days of my Christmas holiday, that was always the intention, and while the tree is still up, its still Christmas!! I will however, be using this blog to track my progress as the myfitnesspal app requires a lot of commitment to keep it up to date. As long as I use it daily, it will work!

Wish me luck.

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