365 project, Photography

Day 304 – Not just tired, but parenting tired

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Day 304 – Jan 16th

After our previous nights excitement in hospital, today we were feeling the full effects of missed sleep. I’d worked out that I’d got just over three hours before my alarm went off, and knew that today was going to be a long day. As it happened, I coped fairly well for the morning, but then I sat down for lunch and it hit me… and all I could think about from that point on was bed.

Now it’s fair to say that I’m a bit of a night owl, and have never found it easy to get to bed early, but I knew that if I was going to maintain my running at the gym this week then I’d need to do something a bit more drastic than usual to make sure I had the energy.

After the girls were in bed, I did what I had to and started getting ready for bed much earlier than usual, and was actually in bed before 10pm, the last time this happened I’d taken the day off work and felt like I was dying with some flu virus.

Hopefully, with a little light reading of my new book, I’d soon be off to the land of nod!

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365 project, Photography

Day 289 – Time for a few changes

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Day 289 – Jan 1st 2018

Happy New Year everyone!!

Its New Year’s Day 2018, and its fair to say that although I wasn’t feeling too clever when I woke up, I have certainly woken up in far worse states than this in previous years.

It marks the end of a period of overindulgence during the festive period, as like most people I like to eat and drink well, up to and over Christmas, and then allow myself to wait until January before I begin to feel guilty about it.

This year felt slightly different though, I woke up on new years day actually feeling a little bored with drinking. It was definitely time for a few weeks off, and although I got fed up and caved in after two weeks the last time I tried, I was determined to see this one through. I am not normally one for resolutions, but I felt that I also needed to make a few other changes this year, mostly based around the diet and the sleeping habits.

Firstly the diet… biscuits, beer and chocolate all banned, at least for the first month anyway, and we’ll see how it goes after that, maybe I can introduce things back in slowly. Snacks are certainly my one big weakness, and I am worst in the evening, usually when I stay up too late and have a drink in my hand.

So on we come to the second part, sleeping habits, and this is the real tough one, a real engrained habit. I am a night owl, and have been for most of my adult life, getting to bed at a sensible time seems like such a challenge. Well, this year is about challenges. I have yet to weigh myself, but my weight has to be the focus of my efforts initially, and all these resolutions are going to work towards getting my weight down. Sleeping better, drinking more water and less alcohol, and cutting out the snacks are all going to help. All I need to do now is make sure I can get to the gym often enough. I am already going weekly, I just need to commit myself to at least twice a week.

I can do this, I am armed with all the tools I need. My iPhone, Apple watch and bluetooth headphones are going to help me track my fitness and sleep, as well as my old friend myfitnesspal to help me track my food, plus the support of my wife. Yeah, I’ve joined the “new year, new me” gang!

Who else is feeling determined??

365 project, Photography

Day 260 – We’re not the only ones preparing for christmas

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Day 260 – Dec 3rd

With the weekend landing we didn’t have any plans for Sunday, and by Saturday night it is pretty much laid out before us. We start the day with a visit to my mothers so that she can see the girls, and I can see her after a couple of weeks.

Sadly it was a short visit and then straight off to the park to meet friends, as we’d thrown Olivia’s bike in the boot of the car so she could ride around with our friends little girl who is the same age and had also taken her bike. It actually turns out to be a nice calm walk as the girls don’t make it very far before they stop and want to get off again. There was plenty of screams as we stopped to feed ducks and the angry geese chased both of the girls sending them into a frenzied panic. Part of me wanted to laugh a little, but a part of me also wanted to send the damn geese flying with a punt from my size nines! In the defence of the geese, if the girls hadn’t run off holding a big piece of bread, they geese may not have chased them quite so much!

We did spot a few squirrels hoarding a last few nuts before settling down for their winter snooze. I have never been able to get a decent squirrel shot as the little buggers always disappear up a tree, which most of them were doing today, until I found the little fellow in todays photo who seemed a little twitchy, but was more intent on filling his face instead of running for safety.

So without the day being too crazy, we felt like we’d spent our time well and enjoyed ourselves. That evening I even managed to get a load of christmas presents online, which is my preferred method of buying presents, so that was a bit of pressure off, as it meant we were a little more prepared for christmas now.

Only two more weeks at work!

365 project

Day 257 – Baby it’s cold outside

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Day 257 – Nov 30th

Back before the girls were born, before we’d moved into the house, the wife and I lived together in her flat, which I guess you could say eventually became our flat after we were married.

It was a lovely little place, perfect for us as a childless couple, and even though there was no proper heating system it never really got cold in there as we had a flat above and below insulating us. Some nights we’d put a film on and light a few candles, very romantic, but the practical upshot of this was that the flat, due to its size, got very warm after a while.

I loved lighting up a load of tealight candles for a cosy night in, especially on the colder nights, and it is something we haven’t done much since moving into the house as we were only in here for a few weeks as a couple before our first little baby arrived and suddenly we were parents. Early on into the parenting thing we were too distracted to think about romantic nights in front of the tv, and now the girls are at least sleeping well every night we just don’t like to have candles out at any point with those inquisitive little hands exploring, and tend to forget by the time they have gone to bed. Still, I am keen to teach them the importance of not touching things when they have been told, and they stayed well away from these candles when we lit them up the other night. I didn’t stray far from the candles while they were lit, and it was as much an experiment to see how they’d behave around them as it was for the pretty light and any heat they’d give off. It went well, they didn’t get too close and listened when we told them not to touch.

365 project

Day 248 – Hold onto those purse strings

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Day 248 – Nov 21st

Its the time of year that few people look forward to, the government budget announcement where we get to see how financially difficult or easy the government want to make the next 12 months.

Rarely is it good news.

Previously I’ve just tutted and rolled my eyes, not usually paying too much attention to it, apart from the obvious increased costs of petrol and alcohol, the two things that may have affected me the most back then, but in recent years I’ve started to listen a bit closer, as there are more implications from being both a homeowner and a parent.

Tonight I intend to forget all about it and get myself back in the gym, as it has been a couple of weeks since I was last in there and I need to get that heart pumping!

365 project, Photography

Day 233 – Less excuses, more exercising

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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??

365 project, Photography

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

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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!

365 project

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

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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. 

365 project, Photography

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

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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!

365 project, Photography

Day 218 – Keep going until you get it right

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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.