Day 124 – Get me to the weekend!

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Day 124 – Jul 19th

Now I’m used to life on the road with two wheels, I usually don’t enjoy driving to work, it’s a bit different when you get to drive in to work in one of the minibuses that you’ve borrowed to take camera equipment in with. As we only have one car between us, I’d already deprived Clare of the car once last week, and as I had to take my stuff in a second time for more photos, I decided to cycle in yesterday and take a bus home with me. Driving in to work this morning, in a long, wide vehicle, in an elevated seat made me feel a bit more powerful on the road. You certainly had a lot more presence on the road!

The downside was that I had to bring the bike back home with me at the end of the day again, and I was not ready to cycle at all, let alone uphill, in the heat, with my bad chest getting worse… but I still had to! 

It came as no surprise that when I got home I was feeling particularly rough. I was tired, grumpy, coughing, flaking fast, and regretting the cycling decision. 

There was only one thing going to help me here, some sugar in the form of chocolate! 

Okay, okay… it wasn’t actually going to help much, but it would at least help me take my mind off things!

Day 123 – nothing worth having comes easy

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Day 123 – Jul 18th

A progress update on the garden, after a couple of days work from Leigh, who had been brought in to fix our garden, we have the top cleared and almost ready to lay slabs down on. The garden already looks bigger, although its still a bit of a mess while this is going on. 

Today we had the materials delivered that we need to complete the job, comprising of 60 paving slabs, a tonne of hardcore and a giant bag of sand, as well as five bags of cement. The cement couldn’t be left out, in case it rained, so those had to be moved indoors, but I also needed to move the slabs as well. 

I knew it would be a slow job, it would be heavy work, and my back and legs would most likely be aching at the end of it, but it needed doing. An hour and a half later and I have moved all of the slabs from the front garden, through the garage and into the back garden, all the slabs are inside and I’ve finished digging the top of the garden to make way for the work to continue today. 

It’s dark outside, I’m sweating and ready to do nothing but collapse in bed, but not before I’ve had a shower first!!

Day 120 – expect the unexpected

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Day 120 – Jul 15th

Party 1 of 2 for this weekend, and it would seem that our 3 year old daughter has a more active social life than us! The first party was at an adventure play centre not too far from us, some good friends of ours had booked it for the second year in a row as the kids all seem to have fun here last time, there is plenty to do, even if it rains, there’s food, face painting, things to climb and ride, and last year was a success, and so why change it if it works?

We were already having a lovely time at the party, but weren’t prepared for the surprise we got when the hosts took us to one side and asked us to be god parents to their new little baby girl, we were delighted! We would loved to have had them for Chloe’s godparents, but Clare had already insisted on siblings, and thrown into the deal we also had to have at least one catholic godparent too. Its so nice when friends consider you close enough to ask though. This particular friend was a girl I met whilst working behind a bar many years ago, one of the many bars I have worked in throughout the years, mostly throughout my 20s, but also one of the few people I have actually managed not only to stay in touch with, but also keep a very good friendship with, to the point where now we are both married and she is also great friends with my wife.

Its no secret that having kids can affect your friendships with people, and alter the dynamics of your relationships to either strengthen or break a friendship. Sometimes you will see some friendships just fade away in front of you, but the ones that don’t tend to stand the test of time. It definitely helps when your friends all start to have children too and you can suddenly hugely sympathise with each other on all the reasons you have for either being late, or not being able to turn up to certain events at all, as well as having plenty to talk about and great reasons to catch up, rather than just the previous carnage of yet another drunken night out where you didn’t even remember getting in at 3am with a takeaway wrapper in your hand. Of course, nights out are still important, but often I just don’t have the energy these days!

With todays birthday party out of the way, it left us with the rest of the afternoon free, and so we took the opportunity to visit my mother so that she could see the girls for a while, as we hadn’t seen her at all last weekend. The girls always love catching up with their grandparents, especially if it includes running around the garden, although it did mean getting home a little later than we had planned, but it was worth it!

Day 119 – A change is as good as a rest

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Day 119 – Jul 14th

Its nice to have your skills recognised, and being a photographer, when your employer asks you to take time out of your work to do head shots of staff, its quite nice to be able to do something different for a day. As I’ve said before, I never like to complain about my job, but when I am being paid for the day to take photographs instead, it makes a refreshing change. This close to the summer holidays, everyone is winding down for the end of the year now, so things are quieter in the classroom anyway.

I shot around 80 staff, but had to do it in bursts here and there, waiting for staff to find an opportunity to step out of the classroom. Sometimes there would be a queue of people waiting, other times I would be stood around waiting for people to turn up. I also had a chance to edit a few of the photos before the end of the day, so that I didn’t get roped into having to do it at home. These photos don’t benefit me financially in any way, and so I don’t want to be taking up my own time working on them.

Todays photo was one of my colleagues, a guy I have known for a long time, as he started around the same time as me, over 20 years ago. A very friendly, charismatic guy, who is just one of those people who seems to make friends with pretty much most people. I know he won’t mind me using his photo. I have over edited his image a bit, to give it a gritty, high contrast feel. Nothing like the images I will deliver to my employer, which will not look as harsh as this, but I love the way this image looks!

At least I was still able to get out of work on time, as I had no choice but to bring the car to work today with all the lights, backdrops and stands that I just could not carry on a motorbike.

Back when I passed my driving test in 1995, I was just 19 and thought I had the world at my feet with my new found independence, but recently I have actually gone from loving driving, to starting to resent it a little. Its fair to say that I have been truly spoilt with the extra freedom of a motorbike… all the joys of cycling and weaving through traffic on two wheels… but with an engine!! Now I find traffic jams simply unbearable when I am in a car, and commuting to work in the car is something I try to avoid wherever possible! So getting out of work on time was crucial, and my sanity was saved when I got home a few minutes earlier than normal. My family time at home had started, I had my girls and that was all I needed… well, apart from a few Friday night beers!

Day 118 – Sometimes you just have to ask for a little help

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Day 118 – Jul 13th

Okay, so todays photo isn’t the most exciting photo I’ve taken over the course of a 365 project, so why have I taken it?

The answer is simple… its a “before” photo! Yup, after trying to find the time to do something about this part of the back garden for four years, and clearly not doing a very good job about it, in just a few days that corner is not going to look like this any more.

Each summer I promise myself that I’m going to get on top of it, and conquer this corner, and each year I fail. I keep doing a bit here and a bit there and then telling myself that I just don’t have the time. 

So now we have enlisted the help of my sisters partner, whose trade is gardening/landscaping/fencing. He cleared this patch by lunchtime, and totally put me to shame. Still, it had to be done, and he did it. He’ll be back tomorrow to do more, and eventually, once we have slabs down, we can put some furniture up there and enjoy the sun that seems to stay in that corner most of the day and evening!

I clearly couldn’t do this on my own, but at least I can now look forward to relaxing with drinks in the garden, watching the sun go down!

Day 115 – look for the good in the world

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Day 115 – Jul 10th

Monday isn’t so bad when you get a bit of good news to cheer you up. Today is the one day of the year that as school staff, we wait eagerly for… the list of which staff we will all be working with in September. It can make such a difference to your year, as you can end up working with either some brilliant people, or some real mood hoovers who can suck the life out of you just by being in the same room!

Thankfully I am working with some great staff next year, and although we will have some quite challenging pupils, I know we can work together and deliver! It is fair to say that it really brightened up my day.

You know what else can make your day? When you pull up outside the house on the motorbike and see the garage door swing open to reveal your smiling daughter, who is really pleased to see you. Again, as is becoming very common now, she wants to sit on my motorbike and hold on as I push it up the drive and into the garage, although I am most definitely not allowed to turn the engine on to assist me, as its “too loud daddy”!

My one real disappointment of today was my motorbike theory test, which I had to book. I had convinced myself it was an online thing ( why would it be?!), but quickly found out I have to go to a test centre (makes sense I guess!) to complete it, and they do not have a free appointment for another 3 weeks… meaning I cannot book my motorbike test until I have actually taken and passed the theory! On a plus point, it was cheaper to book than I expected, only £23!

Although I had plans to get other things done this evening, I was forced to spend a chunk of it calling Sky about problems on the phone line for the house phone. It has been playing up for over a week now, not dialling calls, or receiving them, so I bought a new phone, which doesn’t seem to have helped the problem. After being on hold for 40 minutes, I finally got to talk to someone who was very helpful, confirming the problem was external probably something to do with the local exchange, and nothing to do with ay cables or equipment in our house, and they’d put in a request for it to be fixed by engineers asap.

So… anyone guess what todays photo is?

Day 114 – What do ducks like to eat?

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Day 114 – Jul 9th

A picnic in the park with friends on a sunny Sunday afternoon, it’s pretty much what the weekend was invented for! 

The date had been in the calendar for a few weeks to catch up with our friends from our antenatal class, back from before Olivia was born four years ago. We’ve not only stayed in contact, but stayed good friends with them all, although we see some more than others due to geographical locations and work commitments. There was no plan for today, just that we were saving the day to catch up, but at the last minute, with the weather looking good, someone called for a picnic in the park. A good shout in my opinion! 

Armed with our picnic blanket, a hamper full of food, a ball and a Bluetooth speaker for some music from the phone we went off to meet our friends. It was a lovely afternoon in the sun with the kids playing together and running about, enjoying an ice cream and watching one of the dads try to fly a kite. 

There was also the madatory feeding of the ducks, which we had brought some oats for, after recent articles highlighting the issues around giving bread to the ducks. It seems a little strange that a tradition for parents and grandparents that has been going on for decades, has only recently come to light, in that we should not be using bread to feed the ducks. Something to do with a lack of nutrition and the ducks filling up on this rather than having a balanced nutritional diet, which can lead to deformities in their wings, a disability known as angel wing, that can hamper their flying or even stop it altogether. On top of all the uneaten bread polluting the waterways, as people just keep on throwing it in, regardless of how much of it is already floating around in front of them. Conservationists instead recommend oats, peas and sweetcorn. We like to think we did our bit.

It was no surprise that the girls both fell asleep in the car on the ride home, and we even got them both from the car to the sofa without waking them up. A truly pleasant afternoon out.

What you do with your weekend?