Getting ready and trying to get out of the house on time is something every parent of small children dreams of doing. It seems like an elusive dream, a holy grail of parenting, the one false promise you make to all your friends and end up apologising for on a fairly routine basis.
I had arranged to meet an old work colleague who left for a new school around christmas, that I haven’t been able to catch up with since. We decided to head down to Cannon Hill park, as its central for most people to meet up, there is a lot of space to walk around, the lake, two play areas for the children, the crazy golf and a funfair, plus the gardens and a tea room. Its a great spot, but on really warm days we tend to avoid it purely on the basis of how busy it can get. When the sun comes out its near impossible to find a parking space!
Like almost every other day, we were late getting out of the house, and so I was quite grateful that a) we got a parking space quite quickly, and b) my friend, thanks to his little boy, was even later than me. As most of our friends seem to have kids these days, you kind of expect things like this to happen, and you’re just glad that its not you that is the last one to arrive!
The kids had a fun time, and it was nice to catch up with my friend, he’s a really nice guy and I was quite disappointed to find out he was leaving and moving on. We’d played catch with some balls, tried to fly Olivia’s kite, although it wasn’t quite windy enough to keep it up, enjoyed ice creams and spent a bit of time avoiding the large groups of geese that could look a little intimidating to a small person.
Its a lovely park, and I’m looking forward to going back again soon.
There were three things on my to-do list today, and at least with Olivia in nursery I had the opportunity to tick them off. First on my list was getting down to Streetbike, my local motorbike shop, to arrange booking in my motorbike lessons so that I can get my full motorbike license and remove the L plates from my bike, and hopefully in the not too distant future, upgrade my wheels to something a little more powerful.
Second on the list was to collect the bicycle we had ordered and reserved for Olivia’s 4th birthday. It was still boxed, and so easily hidden until her birthday rolls around in a few weeks.
Last on my list was to head back down to the gym and take advantage of the steam room again. I am quite enjoying spending half an hour in there every few days, as I don’t normally have time after a cardio session in the evenings. I finished up and showered just in time to pick Olivia up from nursery on the way home. Usually she grumbles if we have to go home in the car, its nice to know that she enjoys walking home so much! Although it seems that today she was tired enough not to care too much!
Todays photo was a chance shot of our local neighbourhood fox, who always appears from the same place most afternoons/evenings, wandering from one garden across the road into another garden, and doesn’t even care if its dark out, or the middle of the afternoon. Today I saw him out with another fox for the first time and knew that if I wanted a photo, that now was my chance. I wouldn’t have time to change lenses, and had to hope whatever lens was on my camera would get me close enough. Thankfully the lens was suitable, but by the time I was ready to take the shot the second fox had already ran off. I do wonder where they sleep, and what it is they’re finding to eat each night, as food must be slim pickings around here! I’d love to stick a GoPro on one, one evening and find out what they get up to.
Time to relax with a well earned beer, even if it is only a Tuesday night!
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!!
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?
This is it, the summer term is finally over, the last day in work is finished and I can go home to six glorious weeks with my girls!
I will now get to spend, not just most days, but the whole six weeks with them, after a text message from my friend which informed me that they no longer needed me to look after their son any more, rather than the flexible arrangement we had previously, they needed the support to be more regular and with more help during the week rather than just at the weekend, which I could never have offered because of the hours I work and getting the girls to bed. I’ve been doing this for over two years now, and it has been nice to help friends out, especially as their needs were quite specific and it was an area I happened to have experience in, but I’m glad I can have more time at home with my own family now.
So as I arrive home with the sun shining, what better way to spend the afternoon than head straight back out to the park. Everyone is just sat around glued to the tv, yawning and stretching, so lets go and get some fresh air in our lungs and wake ourselves up! Clare decides to stay at home to prepare dinner and tidy stuff, so I strap the girls into the car and head down to my favourite local park and nature spot, Warley Woods. What better way to spend the afternoon than working up an appetite in time for dinner.
After a few weeks without rain, the garden lawn is starting to look a bit tired, and I’ve had enough of having to grab a watering can and water the flowers each evening, and then worrying about them if I forget to do it one evening. Well today started out damp, and apart from a couple of dry spells this morning, its pretty much rained all day since then.
As an adult owning a property with a garden, particularly one that you’re growing things in, its pretty much about the only time that anyone can get even remotely excited about rain. You may be cursing that your day out is ruined, or that you can’t hang the washing out to dry, but you can at least smile in the knowledge that your grass is getting a good water and the flower beds will love it. The simple fact is that this green and pleasant land of ours would not be quite so green without a bit of rain every now and again to keep it that way.
One of the little green shoots that had come from Olivia helping me to plant some seeds back in February was our sunflowers. They seemed to do very little for a number of weeks, and the shoots were no more than a few inches tall, then suddenly, out of nowhere, they seem to have shot up, and this week have even begun to open up! That’ll keep the bees happy for a while, and now the garden will start to look even brighter!
With the weather being wet, I ditched the idea of cycling this morning in favour of the motorbike. Sure, I’m still exposed to the elements, but at least on the motorbike I am covered in waterproof clothing! Made up for it with a gym session this evening, but now have come home with pretty severe heel pain, leaving me limping about a bit, and I’m not even sure how I’ve done it! Only hoping a good nights sleep will fix things, and on that note… well, you don’t get a good nights sleep from tapping away on your laptop while sat on the sofa downstairs!
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?
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!
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.