Blog Archives

Day 161 – Make hay while the sun shines

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Day 161 – Aug 25th

The last Friday of the holidays that I don’t have to consider work (although I clearly already am thinking about it, proven by just the fact that I am typing this!) as next Friday will be the final weekend of the summer holidays.

So what do we do with a Friday and no plans? Well, with the weather forecast continuing to look dry and fairly pleasant, so one thing that I have to do is get all the wood in the garden cut into little pieces that will fit in my chiminea, ready for some late night burning.

Life was made a little easier by Chloe napping and Clare disappearing off to her mothers for an hour with Olivia. This meant I could get the saw out and chop up wood to my hearts content. It’s about all you can ask for when you have kids.

Again, as is traditional on a Friday night, we attempted a film. This time we had opted for one we’d seen before, as Clare had nodded off the last time we tried to watch it. Sadly naaaaah, she missed the last 10 mins of this one too, even if it is a good film! We were doing so well at the start, and even up to half way through. So close, and yet no cigar! 

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Day 146 – Its gettin’ hot in here

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Day 146 – Aug 10

So with the garden pretty much finished, it was no time for the finishing decorations, which included a chiminea and some lights for the seated area.

I took Olivia out for a ride in the car after picking her up from nursery, and we picked up a chiminea in the clearance sale at the local DIY store, I guess most people don’t buy them this late in the summer. It seemed like good value, and a similar price to ones I’d seen on eBay, only no postage charges and I got it immediately! It was fairly easy to put together, although it took a little while, but I still had it finished before it went dark, meaning we could give it a test run tonight.

After the girls were in bed, I took the ANKER bluetooth speaker out and put on some relaxing tunes whilst I started the fire in the chiminea. Clare poured us both a drink and we sat out and relaxed as it started to get dark. It was nice to just sit there, without the distractions of the tv, enjoying each others company, and bask in the warmth of the fire as the night air started to cool down.

I’m looking forward to this becoming a regular feature!

Day 142 – If only Sunday was a day of rest

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Day 142 – Aug 6th

So much for resting on the Sabbath, the wife was off out this morning to meet her friends for breakfast, leaving me to sort the girls out. So consequently I am taking no responsibility for any mismatched clothes the girls may end up wearing today though, I apparently always seem to make poor choices where this is concerned!

Me and the girls decided to take some lunch outside onto the new garden furniture, which made a nice change as its not something we’ve really done before, and todays pleasant weather allowed us a chance to do that. Poor little Chloe was just too tired to eat anything with us though, so she was soon up to bed for a nap, leaving me and Olivia free to play a few games and do some reading that is a bit more difficult to do with her energetic little sister around, leaving a trail of destruction behind her.

Once Clare was home, I was free to jump on my motorbike and head out to briefly catch up with a friend who had moved out to Australia a few years ago and was back for a short while to catch up. It was very last minute, and the original plan had been to take the girls over to see my mother, so I left Clare to put them in the car while I was out and meet me at my moms house. Having the motorbike certainly has been a huge benefit. For me, all the benefits of being able to get about without having to deprive the wife of a car while she has the girls.

The best thing about tonight is the fact that its Sunday night and there is no Sunday night feeling. No work for me in the morning!!

Day 140 – Don’t assume you know everything

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Day 140 – Aug 4th

The day I had been dreading, the first step towards my full motorbike license started today with my motorbike theory test. I had never done a theory test before, as they weren’t actually introduced until the year after I passed my driving test all those years ago. I’d done a practise of the theory test online when I signed up for it, and did okay, so I was fairly confident that my knowledge and 20 years experience of driving would be sufficient to get me through it. A little arrogant, or over confident maybe? You could say so, but I figured my road knowledge had always been quite strong.

The night before I decided to try the practice test again, and got a reasonable and sufficient score again, but then happened to notice all the training material that they had available to purchase, and suddenly wondered if I should have done more to prepare for this. Obviously the questions were going to be different on the day, and what if I knew none of them?? What if I not only failed, but did so in spectacular fashion?

Luckily a good portion of it is common sense, and so I managed to get through and pass it. Not with the same score I’d got on the practise, but it was sufficient all the same.

I headed home feeling much relieved and was pleased to see a little bit of sunshine. A chance to get a few more chores done inside the house and out, and continue sorting the garage out by taking stuff we no longer need to the tip. There has been a number of items that have been stored in there for various reasons that just haven’t been touched in the four years since we moved in, so it seems that being a little more ruthless is something I clearly need to work on.

By the afternoon the garage was starting to feel a little more spacious, although there is still work to be done, but at least it is considerably easier to walk through and bring things like garden wheelie bins through when we need to.

I decided to reward myself with a little time relaxing on our new garden furniture, as I hadn’t had much chance to take advantage of it before.

That evening I was dropped into town to catch up with some friends, the dads from our antenatal group, on one of our few nights out. Its so nice keeping up with this lovely group of people and watching the kids all grow up together.

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?

Day 138 – Who needs sunshine to have a bit of fun

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Day 138 – Aug 2nd

Time to make some indoor entertainment, August has landed with a wet start and little signs of improving any time soon. With two little girls who love getting outdoors we decide to head out to a soft play centre so they can burn off some energy with some climbing, jumping and sliding.

They may have energy to burn off, but its time to slow it down when we get home. Olivia loves to sit down and write, draw and colour, so I created a sheet where she could do all three, overwriting numbers, letters and her name, colouring in shapes and matching numbers to groups of dots. She’s amazing and does so well, I can’t wait for her to start school and show off her skills to the teachers. I love that she loves doing it too.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with our friends stopping by to visit, their son is a few months older than Olivia and they usually play well together, although they were both a little lively and loud, so putting the minions 9 mini movie compilation on the TV quickly restored some peace and quiet as they both soon became engrossed in it.

With dinner done and bath time for the little ladies out of the way, its time for stories and bed for them. I decided to grab a quick shot of the chillies I have grown in the greenhouse as my photo of the day. I love growing chillies, far easier to look after than tomatoes, and there are still many more growing yet to come. I’m picking them and leaving them by the window to let them ripen before they end up in the freezer, ready to go in a chilli the next time we cook one, as they turn from green to red they become hotter, just the way I like them! This shot had to be engineered slightly with some sheets of A4 white paper and two Canon Speedlites bouncing light off the walls and ceiling, trying to minimise the light reflections on the chillies themselves. A high key shot requires two things, a white background and lots of light!

Has anyone else had any joy with growing chillies?

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 122- better days are coming

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Day 122 – Jul 17th

Some days you just can’t find anything to watch, seen it before, or just not in the mood… at least that’s what I’d like to think when I walked in from work and caught my daughter emptying the dvd drawer on to the floor! The chances are that she just took pleasure in pulling out each case and tossing it onto the floor behind her! Now if only I could teach her how to put them all back properly…

With the wife’s newly acquired bad back, it was down to me to look after the girls as much as I could tonight,which included bath time. I just needed a littl time to cool down in front of the fan, after a warm cycle home in the sunshine, before I started.

After Olivia’s full on party weekend, plus a trip to the park that morning with mommy and nanny, she was happy enough to chill out on the sofa… although the same can’t be said for Chloe who doesn’t have varying levels of energy, it’s either full on or stop!

It’s nice to relax once the girls are in bed, but this is not a week I can slow down, plenty of things to keep me busy once the girls are asleep and my time is freed up. On top of putting together a wedding album, there is a bunch of jobs that need doing in the garden. It was a warm evening and another sweat fest before bed, but we’re seeing definite progress now! As soon as it’s ready we’ll be able to order some furniture for it!

The garden should be a place for not only fun with the girls, but for rest and relaxation too. Looking at all the things that need doing and wondering where I’m ever going to find the time has not been relaxing, it has turned out to be a little bit stressful when I’ve actually put some time in, found myself busy the following weekend and then it rains the weekend after that, as I  watch everything grow back, and then end up repeating this process again several weeks later.

Positives to take from this? Firstly, I’ve managed to grow a lot of flowers from seeds, and the garden is looking very pretty, and the bees are happy. Secondly, the top of the garden that is being dug up, and has been a problem for so long, will hopefully be finished by the weekend, and after that the garden won’t need nearly as much maintainence to look good! 

Day 121 – I need to go back to work to get over the weekend!

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Day 121 – Jul 16th

Sunday meant party 2 of 2, and this time we were off to another venue that we had also been to before. It was a soft play party for one of Olivia’s nursery friends, and its always nice to see the other parents, as we don’t get much chance to speak when our paths cross so briefly as we pick up our little ones from nursery. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to take siblings with us to things like this, but with Chloe being just a toddler, no-one really noticed her anyway. The kids played lovely together, and it was great to watch them all interacting, as we don’t get to see that at nursery, obviously as soon as we turn up to take them home all interactions cease and they get excited about seeing their parents and going home instead.

After the party we had a little free time, lunch wasn’t needed as we’d been fed at the party, so it was off to the other nanny and grandads house, as the weather was nice and a walk would do us good anyway. Both sets of grandparents in one weekend isn’t bad, as neither of them are going very far at the moment, so its nice to take the girls to them. Little ones have a magical power to instantly cheer people up, that us grown ups just don’t possess!

The last time we’d gone round we left the girls little car there, so this was a chance to pick it up and walk it home. Chloe was keen to jump in, and Olivia was happy to push her, its lovely seeing them play together. Having one baby is an amazing, life changing event, but there is just something extra special about having two and then watching them interact!

With the girls finally in bed after an exhausting weekend, it was time for me to get my sweat on… with the top of the garden being renovated, there was suddenly a big pile of earth that needed removing, but as it was good quality, fertile soil that had had little growing in it, I was reluctant to just throw it away. So I spent the next hour sieving out the rocks and spreading it around the garden. I was honestly exhausted after this, who knew gardening could be so tiring?!

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!

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