365 project, Photography

Day 204 – It’s worth the sacrifice

Day 204 – Oct 7th

A slow start to the day meant that I had time to indulge myself in the Grand Prix qualifying while the wife took the eldest out to dance class. Just a shame I can’t do this every Saturday! 

Once she was home and qualifying had finished it was time for us to visit one of my sisters, we don’t go over very often, so it was nice to head over for a change, as they usually come to us when we see them. My sister loves collecting vintage trinkets and ornaments, and this made today’s photo fairly easy, there was an assortment of things I could have chosen. 

It might be Saturday night, but no staying up late and drinking tonight, it’s an early start in the morning for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix! Yes, that’s right, alarm set for 4:55am on a Sunday morning… out of choice!

365 project

Day 057 – You can’t escape the inevitable

Day 57 – May 13th

It was going to be a fairly quiet weekend, the few plans we’d got had been cancelled due to our two girls and their incredibly snotty noses. I’d lost count of how many wet wipes we’d gone through cleaning these slimy noses, and I’d got to the point where I’d stopped being repulsed by it, and was quite frankly just a little bored of wiping noses! The highlight of the weekend would have been catching up with some friends to meet their newborn baby, but there was no way our two snot-infested monsters were going anywhere near a baby that was just 6 days old!

With the sun out it was a chance to spend a little time in the garden, and Olivia didn’t need asking twice. There was gardening to be done, some flower seedlings needed planting into the flower bed, and Olivia was keen to help. It was also a chance to plant out the pumpkins I’d grown from seed too, I hope these do well this year, I am very keen to try and get a pumpkin soup out of them!

I had a quiet hour to myself when Clare took Olivia out to the church fete, and while Chloe was having her afternoon nap, so it was my chance to sit down and catch up on the Formula 1 qualifying session, as strangely enough the three ladies in my house don’t seem to share this passion with me. Still, the girls are young, there’s plenty of time to brainwash them yet! Thankfully the qualifying session was finished before Clare arrived back home with Olivia keen to show off her new face paint!

This evening it seemed that most of the country was focused on the Eurovision Song Contest. I’d been threatened by the wife that she was having it on the tv, regardless of what I said. With my Saturday night viewing compromised I tried to rope a couple of friends into a night at the pub, although it fell through at the last minute, leaving me no choice but to stay in and endure it. My sister was even having a Eurovision party, and actually bothered to take time out to invite me. Pffttt! She knew what I was going to say, and if it had been any other kind of party I’d have been there! Still, at least that’s done for the next 12 months!

At least with the Spanish Grand Prix tomorrow the tv is all mine… all mine I tell you!!!



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!

365 project, Personal, Photography


“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”


Sunday morning and time for the F1 Chinese Grand Prix! Olivia was awake too, so I took her downstairs for breakfast and left Clare to have a bit of a lie in! I would have liked to have headed out to watch the race at Après, the bar where Birmingham fans meet up to watch the race together, but with the car not working it wasn’t going to happen this weekend, maybe for the first of the European races in May? As a British fan it was a huge race for Hamilton having his 3rd win in a row, those Mercedes cars are looking mighty, but it was a tough race for Button in his McLaren, yet again they are struggling to keep up. Lets hope they have a bit more luck in Spain! As Hamilton crossed the line to win, I heard a tap on the window, and thankfully my mechanic had turned up. I was very grateful for him coming out on a Sunday, especially Easter Sunday, although after half an hour with his diagnostic machines, we weren’t much further forward as to what the problem was. He had a theory that it was linked to the battery within the key fob, and so I am now waiting on some new batteries to confirm this, fingers crossed!

We did get the car running and went out for lunch with the mother in law, as we had previously planned, as the father in law was out at some convention at the NEC. Olivia was good as gold while we ate, and sat munching on a cucumber even though she was tired. We had a lovely bunny suit for her this morning as it was Easter…
although she wasn’t the biggest fan, maybe she was too hot in it, or tired, or it was too restrictive, but as cute as she looked, it didn’t last very long sadly. We can try again tomorrow when she’s less tired!

After tea and cake at the in laws after we’d got back from lunch, we gave Olivia her milk and let her nap for a while before heading home. All that was left to do was give Olivia her cheesy pasta dinner and dig out the tools to put together a bookcase for her bedroom while Clare was giving her a bath. One baby in bed for 7:30pm! Boom! We have this bedtime routine nailed! Now time to kick back with a beer and settle in to watch Independence Day. I have watched this film many times, but its still a great film, probably one of my Will Smith favourites!

“Now that’s what I call a close encounter.”

365 project, Personal, Photography


“Elephants and grandchildren never forget.”


5am isn’t any time to be up on a Sunday morning, but having to go into the bathroom to have a coughing fit only serves to make you feel even worse. Thankfully I managed to get back to sleep, but this pollution we experienced has done me no favours, and now I have a cold that has come on too! The worst thing about this coughing is knowing that it is also keeping the wife awake, and aside from sleeping on the sofa, there isn’t much I can do about it. Still, on a plus point, neither of us heard Olivia until 8am this morning, which really feels like we had a lie in! There really is nothing like seeing that beaming smile first thing in the morning to make you forget that its early on a Sunday morning and being up at this time on any other Sunday before you had children would have just seemed bonkers! Today we were being treated to lunch with the in-laws, which meant no cooking or rushing to the shops for the inevitable last minute ingredients we’d forgotten when shopping. For some reason we plan most of our weekday meals, but never seem to give much consideration to the weekend. We even took home a friends idea and I created a meal planner so that we can make sure any meat we need is defrosted for the following day, and when we go shopping we always get what we need for the week. It also helped us to stop wasting money at the supermarket on things we knew we weren’t going to need. Our weekly spend went down slightly, and now we hardly ever throw food out. Yet we still generally fail on a Sunday. It was grey and cloudy outside, but didn’t feel especially cold, so we took a walk round to the in-laws and had lunch with them. I needed to be home by 3pm for the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix, qualifying had proved very interesting, and I was especially looking forward to this race. Historically Bahrain has tended to be one of the less exciting circuits on the calendar, but that all changed today, as it became one of the most exciting races I had seem for a while! I had considered going out to Aprés to watch it with some other F1 fans, but the father in law seemed keen to see the race too, so we left the ladies there and went to watch it at our house with a couple of beers. The wife is very patient, and doesn’t complain about all the commentary before or after the race as she knows I don’t watch much tv and she appreciates that its only once every couple of weeks as I’m not into football or anything like that. This afternoon we had a few tears from Olivia, although its a tricky time to work out exactly what is causing them. She has recently been napping much less, and still gets tired, but just not enough to nap, on top of which she has teeth now coming through. So it could be a combination of being tired and sore gums, and possibly not even going down for naps BECAUSE her gums are sore! Either way, a small dose of Calpol settled her enough to get through dinner, a quick bath and a bottle before bed. Monday morning looms ahead, and with the forecast suggesting rain and my cough not going anywhere, I am really not looking forward to Monday this week, although thankfully its the last Monday before I have two weeks off work! I just hope the weather allows us to get out and do things, I really want to make the most of this time as Clare doesn’t have that long left before she is back to work. The summer holidays are going to be lovely, spending all that time with Olivia, but I’ll be doing it on my own by that point!

365 project, Personal, Photography

89.365 Mothers Day

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”


Happy mothers day to all the moms reading this!

Mothers day in the UK, and for men like myself who have recently become a dad, and so have a wife or girlfriend celebrating their first ever mothers day, a certain amount of pressure to get the day right. The internet has really helped to make getting the right gifts and cards a whole lot easier, although there is obviously a lot more to the day. I was especially pleased with the card, as it brought a tear to Clare’s eye when she read it this morning, the perfect response! While Clare was showering and doing her hair etc I managed to watch the 2nd F1 race of the year, and due to it being in Malaysia and in a different time zone it was finished by 11am, then it was time for the chores to start! Rather than heading out for the day, we decided to have our mothers over for lunch, and put on a buffet for them. Clare was ordered to put her feet up but insisted on helping to get the food ready, especially as she wanted to serve up her speciality home made pizza, which I have not attempted to make yet! We also had my other sister join us, and her boyfriend showed his face for a little while. We weren’t expecting them when we planned the food, but as it happened there was more than enough to go around in the end, so it didn’t really matter. Everyone enjoyed themselves and no-one went without. I wanted to grab a few photos while we had everyone here, a shot of Clare, Olivia and the two grandmothers and also Olivia with her grandparents, which came out really nice and so is my photo for the day. The weather was almost as warm as yesterday, and still quite pleasant and so allowed us the benefit of taking the photos outside in the garden.

Ideally I’d have liked a bit more sunshine and have been able to sit out in the garden, but we have been fairly lucky with the weather considering its still March! Clare’s parents stayed for a few hours, and then headed off to visit Clare’s brother, while my family stayed on and sat down to watch a film with us. I knew my mom would like Philomena, and my sister had shown an interest in watching it, so we sat down and watched the film together. Its a lovely, but extremely sad film based on real events and starring one of my favourite actresses Dame Judi Dench who never disappoints in any of her roles! I can’t lie, it really tugged at the heart strings and I had to wipe away a tear or two. Yes, I cry at films… there I said it! Normally a few drinks doesn’t help matters, but I didn’t even have that excuse this afternoon! Although I was particularly exhausted after a rather late night, which wasn’t helped by the clocks going forward for daylight saving time losing me an hour of sleep time. So I really need to be in bed by a sensible time tonight, and as I am committing myself to getting back into the gym this week, I need to make a habit of getting to bed at a decent time! My only barrier to hitting the gym in the morning is dragging myself out of bed on time, the actual exercise doesn’t bother me at all, especially with my headphones and some good tunes, on top of which I am already warmed up from the bike ride in! I am joining a work colleague in the gym, so we can motivate each other to go, and we’re starting wednesday. I have a set goal in weight to lose and I need to start now. One of my targets is this years Tough Mudder, which is a brutal course, and will be made much easier by my being lighter, as will my daily cycle into work!

365 project, Personal, Photography




It takes a real Formula 1 fan to understand why I set my alarm for 4:45am today and was in the car by 5:10am heading out to a bar in the city centre. It has been a long 4 months waiting for the 2014 season to begin in Australia, but today it was finally here, and with a whole bunch of new rule changes to add an even more excitement to the races. I recently discovered F1inpubs and decided that rather than sitting and watching it alone, I’d go and watch it with a bunch of people who enjoyed it as much as me, and even managed to find one of my friends who was keen to come too, one of the dads from our antenatal group. I’ll be honest, I thought he may have overslept, but no, sure enough he was there! The race kicked off at 6am and we were tucking into a full english breakfast and a cup of tea soon after that. It may have been stupidly early, but it was a great way to start the day. The sun was shining by the time the race was over, and I was home by 8:20am just as Clare was up and feeding Olivia, ready to start the day. The sun stayed out and the morning was getting warmer and warmer, there was absolutely no way we were staying in the house, and so off to Cannon Hill Park it was. I knew it was going to be busy, it always is on a hot day, but the crowds aren’t what put me off, its just the sheer lack of parking on days like this, every man and his dog seems to head there as soon as the sun peeps out! We got lucky and bagged a space quite quickly, and set off on a very leisurely stroll around the park. There isn’t much that beats a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park with the wife and daughter on a sunny afternoon, I think the only thing that could have finished the afternoon off would have been a queue of less than 50 people for the ice cream van!! We finished our walk and took Olivia home for lunch, and it wasn’t long before we had friends come to visit, another couple from our antenatal group returning a travel cot they’d borrowed, and it was lovely to catch up with them over a cup of tea. I was due to visit a friend later this afternoon to drop some photos off and take a few shots of their little girl, but unfortunately we had to reschedule. On top of their wedding, I’ve captured their bump, newborn and christening photos. I’d really like to get another shot for them now their little girl is approaching her first birthday!

After a delicious dinner cooked by my fantastic wife, this evening is just about relaxing and getting myself ready for the week ahead. Hmm, if only I had a nice bottle of red and an empty glass next to me, that could possibly make the perfect Sunday!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 321/365

“We’ll be friends until forever, just you wait and see”


After a few beers last night, this morning started earlier than I wanted it to. I tried to grab a little nap again before midday, but didn’t have much luck. A quick tidy up of the house, and it was time to start cooking lunch for our guests who were on their way over, thankfully the wife had already prepared all the vegetables the night before (yes, while I was at the pub!). Our guests Laura & Duncan are a lovely couple we met at antenatal classes and their gorgeous little daughter, who is just three weeks older than ours. They didn’t really take much notice of each other at this early stage, but I’d like to think that maybe they’ll grow up to be good friends. Lunch was delicious, even if I do say so myself, I’m generally not bad at a sunday roast, but this one was one of my better ones. Our kind guests even brought dessert and wine with them. It was a lovely afternoon that sadly ended in a screamfest as both the girls started wailing at the same time. Still, there’s always next time, at least we had a lovely quiet few hours while we all ate and chatted. After they left, it was bath time for Olivia ahead of the US Grand Prix. Sure I have a bunch of other jobs to be getting on with, but they’ll have to wait until tomorrow now.

Hang on…. is the weekend over already?