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?
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?
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!
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?
Since February I have been growing flowers from seed in the house, the transporting them outdoors when the time came about eight weeks later, after the threat of frost had completely passed. I love to have a bit of colour in the garden, and would ideally spend more time gardening, although this is somewhat of a luxury with two little ones running around demanding attention. Now Chloe is almost 18 months old, fully running around, climbing, investigating, pulling, throwing, falling, she is demanding more attention than ever, and far more than her older sister! Having time to spend in the garden is something I can only hope for in the future when the girls are more able to entertain themselves and each other!
I do find a little time for some gardening though, and have managed to get my flowers planted, keep them watered and get rid of a few weeds, and having that colour really brightens up the garden. The other practical upside is the bumblebees, who are drastically in decline thanks to humans ruining the countryside and getting rid of all the wild flowers, it has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grassland since the 1930s, which you can read more about here.
Making sure there are plenty of bright, colourful flowers is my little bit to help the bees to survive, as we’d be in trouble without them.
When I got home from work on Friday afternoon, it was lovely outside, the temperature had risen again and the girls were keen to get in the garden to play, so I had to oblige. I had been wanting to capture a shot of the bumblebees with the flowers, so grabbed my camera and took advantage of being outside in the garden with the girls.
We even broke records this evening with Clare staying up to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, from start to finish, all three hours of it without even coming close to falling asleep! Virtually unheard of previously, and not only that, but having previously written it off, she even enjoyed it! It was nice to sit down and enjoy watching a good film together, as it feels like such a battle each weekend trying to find something to watch. You wouldn’t believe the options we have open to us, with not only Netflix, but NowTV, and Amazon Prime Video. More films to choose from than you could shake a stick at, yet each week I seem to keep scrolling through thousands of films that I simply haven’t heard of, questioning why I have subscribed to these services. I guess its just nice to keep our options open while the girls are little, but I am going to have to start getting rid of some of the subscriptions soon, especially if it is taking so long on a Friday to find something to watch, that by the time we have its time to go to bed!
I’d like to say I’m lucky to have roses in the house to photograph, but the truth is that I bought them… and I bought them for the wife to apologise for rolling in at 3am drunk the other night, after saying I was popping out to my friends party for an hour or so. We’ve all been there when we’re having a good time and totally lose track of what time it is… haven’t we?! Oops!
Anyway, I had to take this shot while the roses were still fresh, which they should be for a few more days yet, the shot just isn’t the same when they start to wilt so I didn’t want to leave it and miss them at their peak. I love a close up of rose petals, there is something so serene and peaceful about it, like no other flower.
This shot cheered me up a bit, which I needed as some frustrating, but not totally unexpected news at work meant that the next couple of days are going to become somewhat stressful. I’ll just be glad when Thursday gets here! I won’t bitch about the details on here, as no-one likes to hear people whinge, and I need to stop myself from being negative.
The good news for today, besides seeing my girls when I got home, was catching up with blogging friend extraordinaire Suzie to discuss the details of wedding planning and my participation in being lucky enough to photograph this event. She’s a lovely girl who has worked hard on her blog and clearly mastered her skills, and meeting up with her and her lovely fiance was exciting for both of us. For them it makes things feel like a bit more of a reality when you start talking about the details and timeline of the day, and for me… well, I love a good wedding, and even more so when it happens to be a friend. Although with some photographer wedding guests and a massive audience when the photos appear on her blog, I am feeling the pressure start to mount a little. Pressure is not normally something I enjoy or thrive on, but its good when it comes to a wedding, as it keeps you on your toes! The happy couple to be seem fairly relaxed about it all, and its a venue I have been to before, so keeping our fingers crossed for a bit of dry weather, it should be an awesome day!
A few weeks ago I was given a strawberry plant by a friend at work, took it home and planted it in the garden just in time for flowers to start appearing on it. When the flowers appear it’s not long before they fall off and strawberries begin to appear in their place. Recently we’ve had some strawberries appear, and this week, with all the rain and warm weather we’ve had, the strawberries have begun to ripen, and Olivia loves to eat them straight from the plant, which is lovely to watch. The thought of being even remotely connected to the land for such simple things is a nice feeling. To watch your children pick fruit and eat it, and get excited about it too, rather than pick up sweets is brilliant! I can’t wait until the blackberries are out later in the year, its always fun going out for walks and spotting these!
The weather has cooled down a lot now, and by the look of the forecast, we’ve seen the end of our little heatwave. Its a bit of a shame, it was nice having so much sunshine, even if it meant that sleep was only possible with a fan in the bedroom, and a cold shower before bed. The garden has done so well in the sunshine, although it has meant some committed watering of all the plants. The seeds I planted back in February have all started to bloom now, and the garden is beginning to look very colourful. Its nice for Olivia to see the end result of the seeds she helped me to plant, although I am not entirely sure she remembers doing it!
Todays photo is one freshly picked strawberry from the garden, hopefully the first of many if the squirrels don’t find them!
A fairly standard day at work, after cycling and hitting the gym yesterday, it was good to be back on the motorbike today. The weather has been pleasant and warm this week, and it makes the commute on a motorbike even more enjoyable. I still need to get around to arranging the lessons and test for my full motorbike license at some point, as it means being able to throw away the L plates, and buy a bike with a much bigger engine. I also want to go shopping for some more sunshine friendly motorbike clothing, as it can get a bit warm on the back of a bike when you’re covered in heavy, dark, padded jacket and trousers when you’re stuck in traffic and not moving much.
The weekend is set to see the mercury rise quite a bit, it’ll be shorts, vest and flip flops weather at this rate. One thing I need to keep on top of is watering the plants and flowers that I have growing in the garden, most of which I have grown from seeds. Some of which I still can’t remember the names of. Todays photo is one such flower, it’s produced a beautiful orange colour, although for the life of me I can’t think what it’s called. I managed to use my macro lens to get a nice closeup shot and fill the frame with the petals. I can see that this years 365 project is going to be regularly filled with petals and the girls. Maybe time to start thinking of a few new ideas. What is everyone else pointing their cameras at, at the moment?
Well this was an awful week to pick to start cycling to work again. Monday was a wash-out, and today was another day of cycling through the rain, followed by attempting to ride home in strong gales, which after several months of not cycling, was absolutely punishing on the legs. The weather forecast for the rest of the week isn’t fantastic either!
At least when I came home from work, the sun was out, even if the wind was unrelenting! Still, I had to no time to rest my weary legs, it was straight out to pick Olivia up from nursery. The wife suggested taking the car, but on top of the traffic being unpredictable, I didn’t want to waste this bit of sunshine. Along the way there are several patches of foxtail grass, as seen in todays photo. I took a photo of some in my first 365 project and was so impressed with the result that I wanted to try and reproduce it or improve on it, but sadly I only had time for a quick shot, and there wasn’t as much grass as I’d have liked. I do remember picking it when I was young, on the way home from school, and pulling the head off it and throwing it like a dart.
Today was a day we’d really been looking forward to, catching up with some wonderful friends and their new baby for some breakfast at the local harvester, and not just any breakfast, but all you can eat breakfast with unlimited tea and coffee! It sets you up really well for the day, and usually means we can totally skip lunch after one of these.
Its a great opportunity to tuck into some lovely food and really enjoy breakfast, but it is also a great chance to catch up with our very good friends who we don’t see nearly enough of. There is no rushing here, and none of us are checking our watches anyway, its just a nice relaxed morning.
With our bellies full, we decide that this time we are all going to walk some of it off around a nearby park, and head out to a lovely place called Haden House park with a number of play areas and a great walk around it, that I have unfortunately only been to once before. The last time I went was a few years ago on a cold winter day, and so I couldn’t enjoy the sunshine like I did today. I think its definitely a park we need to be heading back to again soon. The walk got our heart rates up, the kids played and rolled on the grass, the flowers were beautiful. A great place to stretch your legs in.
After we got home, we had a visit from another friend who brought her son and her newborn baby girl. Her son played with Olivia in the garden, and we got the paddling pool set up for them, with the slide going into it. They spent plenty of time outdoors, and had a great time together. Nothing like seeing kids laughing outdoors and having fun. With the weather over the next week being a little uncertain, we need to take advantage of the sunshine while we can.