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Day 233 – Less excuses, more exercising

Day 233 – Nov 6th

We’re a week into November, Winter is knocking on the door, and this morning we get a reminder of that as the mercury has only crept up to 1ºC as I climb onto my motorbike and head off to work, a little nervous that the last time I went out with frost on the road I wasn’t able to keep the bike upright as I pulled out of a junction. I was still quite new to riding and a fairly lively wobble and the bike went down. Thankfully that wasn’t the case today, and I made it to work in one piece.

The next three days I’d be cycling to work, a much more preferable option when its frosty out, firstly its easy to keep warm when you have to peddle uphill, and secondly the bike is easier to keep upright than a heavy motorbike.

Tonight I had committed myself to hitting the gym again after work, as I hadn’t been for a few weeks. I seem to have found plenty of excuses to not go, but really needed to just get off my lazy ass and do it! Usually I head straight for the cardio equipment when I am at the gym, but with a niggling foot injury giving me some bother I decided to do something different and get on the weight machines instead. It was nice to do something different, even though I was aware I had to cycle in the morning and could easily wake up in the morning with stiff legs. In the long run, if I use the weights regularly it will make the cycling easier.

One thing I that would really benefit me is some kind of training plan, but where do you begin with something like that without throwing money at a personal trainer??


Day 232 – Autumn gives the summer a beautiful send-off

Day 232 – Nov 5th

Its actual bonfire night in the UK, but seeing as it is Sunday most of the fireworks will hopefully have gone off on Friday and Saturday night, although there will always be those that are determined to wait until the actual date to set some off, and the few weird ones who seem to hang on until Monday or Tuesday… what is THAT all about??

We’d already had fireworks on Friday, and a bonfire at home with sparklers on Saturday, so we were done for this year.

I had to pop out at lunchtime to meet with a couple, they are getting married next year and were visiting their venue and had asked if I could join them to take a look over the place. I’d seen a photo of it, and it looked nice enough, so I really wasn’t expecting to be quite as impressed by it as I was once I’d seen it in person. It was a beautiful venue, and the attention to detail was very impressive. With the passion of the people running the place it sounds like the day will run very smoothly indeed, and I am very much looking forward to their wedding day there, I have no doubt it will be an amazing day.

I did grab a shot of the place before I left, but came home to find these three leaves at the bottom of the driveway, just crying out to be photographed. Here is Autumn at its finest, well done mother nature!

Day 230 – I feel like I’ve earned this!


Day 230 – Nov 3rd

It feels like we’ve only just gone back to and yet Friday is here again already. I’m giving myself Monday and Friday to use my motorbike, so I don’t get carried away and end up not cycling and putting a load of weight back on. This makes today my motorbike day. Yayyy!

It was looking like a dry day, and the weather was fairly pleasant for the time of year, so the ride home was a rather pleasant one, especially with the roads being a little quieter for being able to get out of work a little earlier in the afternoon. 

The ride home was even more pleasant knowing that we were off to see a fireworks display this evening. The wife isn’t very keen on them, and was additionally concerned about Chloe being scared by the loud bangs, as she doesn’t do well with loud noises. I personally thought it was worth a gamble and knew Olivia would enjoy it. 

We managed to miss a lot of rush hour traffic on the way over there and even got a parking space without too much stress. Our local cricket club put on a bonfire and firework display each year, and it is always very popular, but thankfully they are thoughtful enough to put on two firework displays, an earlier one so that young children don’t miss out, and the main one about an hour later, generally when most of the young children have gone home. 

The fire itself was immense, and even though the heat stopped you from getting too close, the crowds around it were difficult to negotiate, so we didn’t spend long there. We hadn’t planned to stay too long tonight, but there was still time for the girls to go on a few of the fairground rides that had been set up, before the fireworks were due to start. 

Bedtime for the girls was a little later than usual, but they’d enjoyed it. Hopefully next year they’ll enjoy it a little bit more. 

Day 219 – The fight isn’t always on the street or in the ring

Day 219 – Oct 23rd

Feeding kids is fun isn’t it?! 

No, it really isn’t… it can feel like a hugely stressful time of day for most parents of young children. Absolutely convinced that their stroppy little threenagers are wasting away, literally surviving on nothing more than half a bowl of breakfast cereal, a single bite of a cheese sandwich at lunchtime and and no more than fresh air for rest of the day. Our two girls started off fairly well once they were onto solids, but now each meal time feels a bit groundhog day like with me and the wife sighing and rolling our eyes at each other as the girls either refuse to eat, or take an hour to eat two mouthfuls of food.

Olivia is a slow eater, and rarely finishes a whole plate of food, theres a chance that maybe we are making our portions are too big, it could be a possibility, but it really doesn’t feel like we are when we serve up. Chloe on the other hand has always been known to literally hoover up her food and anything else that was lying close to it… at least that was until recently. The last couple of weeks has been an ongoing cycle of pulling our hair out at an untouched dinner being refused, followed with joy and elation at her eating most of a plate the next day, followed by pulling our hair out yet again the following day when what seems to be “safe food that she’ll definitely eat” gets flatly refused. Currently more food is getting thrown in the bin than is getting eaten… unless said food is crisps or biscuits!

Thankfully, the one thing we do have in our corner that stops us going crazy is the fact that both girls are happy to eat fairly healthy snacks for lunch, such as bananas, grapes, cucumber and carrot sticks on a fairly regular basis. So todays photo is a cucumber close-up to celebrate our sanity being saved by a nutritious lunch at the very least!

Day 218 – Keep going until you get it right

Day 218 – Oct 22nd

Today I was out for my final motorbike lesson ahead of my test next week. It was a bit windy, but thankfully the rain clouds managed to hold it together and only let a few drops out rather than soaking us as Storm Brian tried to disrupt the UK.

The bike lesson went well and gave me a lot more confidence for my test, as we took a long ride out to the Wolverhampton test centre it gave me a chance to get used to being on the big heavy, and rather powerful Suzuki SV650. I found out as I arrived that we had gone to the test centre so that I could do a practise test, which I wasn’t expecting, but could only really be a good thing. It soon came back to me, and I was quickly back into the slow speed manoeuvres around cones on a heavy bike with ease. My instructor Mick was firm but fair, and we were riding out with another girl on lessons who had never ridden a motorbike before, or even done much cycling, but here she was on a 650cc motorbike going for her full license, its ballsy for sure! Fair play to her though, she was doing quite well!

After getting home and feeling quite underwhelmed with my lowly little 125cc bike after playing with the big bike, it was time to head out and meet some friends at their house, along with a few other friends that had already got there, for afternoon tea. Usually this is some delicately cut sandwiches and a few cakes washed down with a cup of tea, very British, but it actually turned out to be more cake than anyone could possibly eat and even a beer for the dads, and the sandwiches never actually made it to the table! The kids played lovely together though, and by the time we had checked our watch the afternoon had flown by, it was rapidly getting dark outside and we needed to be on our way home to get the girls into bed!

Todays photo was relatively unrelated, but I was keeping up the practise with my macro shots, keen to nail the close up shots that I just wasn’t happy with when shooting jewellery at weddings.

Day 217 – My favourite bubbles are in a drink!

Day 217 – Oct 21st

We’ve made it, the half way point through the first term of the year, and Friday marks the beginning of a week off. There is a wonderful feeling with arriving home on a Friday after work, but it feels a bit more special when its the Friday before a week off work.

A week off with the family is always lovely, a chance to spend some time together, but I am making the most of Friday night before I even think about next week!

Once the girls have been through the bath and are in bed its a chance for the wife and me to relax a little bit. We are very lucky that they both go down so well at bed time, not all parents are so lucky, Since they’ve both been born we’ve worked hard at establishing a strong bedtime routine for each of them, and the fruits of our labour are beginning to pay off now. I really do feel sorry for parents who struggle to get their little ones to sleep in the evening, I think it is so important as parents to have time when you are not parenting, when you can be yourself and relax. I consider the time that the wife and I spend together or doing our own thing once the girls are in bed as equally important as the time that we do spend with the girls while they’re awake.

Time to switch off means you can recharge your batteries and do the things you wanted to do during the day, such as playing with your phone, checking up on facebook or catching up on some photos on the computer… exactly the sort of stuff we want to try and avoid while they are awake so that we are giving them the attention they deserve.

Ironically I am writing this while the girls are up, but in my defence we’re having a bit of a slow start to the day and they are enjoying a bit of cbeebies time!

So todays photo is actually another macro shot, as I continue with my close-up theme, taken of my Jack and Coke while I enjoy a bit of Friday evening TV viewing.

Day 216 – Lets get a little closer

Day 216 – Oct 19th

Just one more day to go before the half term holiday, that’s what I keep telling myself, a week off work where I don’t need to set the alarm clock and can spend a little time with the family.

We don’t really have many plans for the week, although there are a few things that need doing. The big focus of my week will be Friday where I finally get to take my motorbike test to get my full license. A full year of commuting to work on a 125cc bike with an L plate has been great practise to get me ready for the test, although I am still feeling a little nervous about it, but I do have a refresher morning coming up at the weekend to get me used to being back on the big bike after a bit of a gap. I wouldn’t feel confident about going into my test after two full months since I last went on a 650cc bike, they are bigger, heavier and so much more powerful. Still, in just over a week we will know if I am worthy of passing the test and owning a big bike. Keep all your fingers crossed for me!

Todays photo was an opportunity to play with my macro lens, it is one I don’t use a great deal except for weddings, yet some of the shots I bring home are never quite sharp enough and so I want to try and practise a little and refine the way I use it to see if I can improve my shots.

Day 192 – Can you speak slowly please

Day 192 – Sep 25th

My brain is literally just taking up space today. When someone asks me a question, I am hearing dial-up internet tones before my brain starts retrieving information at dial-up speed and getting an answer back to you around five minutes later… and possibly a wrong or incoherent answer at that!

After yesterdays busy day the evening took a turn for the worse when Olivia woke up crying and coughing… a situation which pretty much carried on into the early hours and through the night. We tried cough medicine, childrens Ibuprofen, drinks, and keeping our fingers crossed… none of which seemed to work.

When it came time for getting up for work, I was in that frame of mind when you roll over to look at the clock, and with your eyes closed just keep your fingers crossed that its about 3am and you can roll back and go back to sleep… this didn’t prove to be the case. It was time, one way or another I was getting up.

My plan for cycling to work was swiftly abandoned in favour of the much easier motorbike option, it was about all I could manage today. Hopefully we’ll have a better night tonight!

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

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

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?

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