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?
Without a doubt, the hottest day of the year so far, and whilst summer may not technically start until the solstice in June, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t have been calling it summer today!
Nice weather for riding a motorbike home from work, especially as I managed to leave a little earlier than normal, while it was still especially hot out. Its even nicer if you can keep that bike moving at speed, to keep cool, but as soon as you get stuck in traffic and slow down then you start to get a bit of a sweat on with all those biking leathers! I may have to pay a visit to the local bike shop and see what they recommend for the warmer weather!
I gave myself a few minutes to cool off once I was home before I walked round to the nursery to collect Olivia, and even though it was at the back of my mind, she’d already suggested the paddling pool before I had chance, and so we thought, “why not?!”. A good pair of cyclists lungs meant it was blown up in no time, and the girls were quickly in it. Just what kids want on a hot summers day to cool off.
Putting the girls to bed meant I still had to consider the cooling process, as the rooms are so warm, and so I was into the loft and bringing down the fans to keep the girls cool while they slept.
For me… a nice cold glass of cider that my sister had brought me for my birthday! Not a drink I have any other time of the year, except for on days like this! Perfect!
Another year has rolled around again, and with my birthday almost here, I sit here and wonder where a whole 12 months has gone, and wonder what I did with my time… and how the hell it made 12 months vanish in a flash!
This time last year I was about to turn forty, it was the last couple of days of my thirties, and I guess I was feeling a little reflective. My thirties had been far better to me that I had ever imagined, especially when I consider where I was, and what was happening when I actually turned thirty. It wasn’t a great place, I jumped into a job that I hated and was dating a girl who was totally not suited to me. She was a party girl who gave no thought to the future, and was all about pleasing herself, I didn’t even get a present for my thirtieth birthday. Forget surprise trips to Vegas or New York like some of my friends seemed to be enjoying, I just had to be grateful she’d bothered to get me a card, seriously!
Anyway, without going into too much detail about that, roughly about 18 months later I met my wonderful wife, who has changed my life in so many wonderful ways, and given me two beautiful girls. So as I sit here looking back on what has been, I can’t be too regretful for the choices I’ve made, as they’ve brought me here to where I am today.
My only real regret is that we don’t make enough time for each other at the moment. Its all part and parcel of being parents, the girls are young, and they come before everything else. They are our world and we both put them above ourselves and each other. We had no idea what being a parent would actually be like beforehand, regardless of what people told us, so this overwhelming love for our children that has made absolutely everything else less of a priority has kind of created an unwritten understanding between me and the wife, in that I am no longer her number one any more, and vice versa… the girls come first. We happily accept this, and know that one day they will become independent young ladies, and we will be left with little option but to turn the focus back to ourselves again.
It would be nice, however, to make sure that me and the wife still have a bit of time together, as a couple, to enjoy each others company. To remember what makes the other one smile, and enjoy all the reasons we got together in the first place. We just need to show a little more patience first, our time will come!
Moving onto todays photo, this particular evening I had invited over an old school friend, back from when I was at infant and junior school, so it has been a good few years since we not only knew each other, but actually last saw each other, up until we’d started meeting just before Christmas. She had enquired about photography training courses on facebook, and I replied that I had been thinking of putting some together. If she was willing to be my guinea pig, then I’d happily share my knowledge for free. We both got something out of it, and it was great to catch up too, especially as she wasn’t living far away. She may well be reading this, and I hope she doesn’t mind me using this photo for the day, it was only taken to demonstrate a lighting technique, but I think it turned out well!
Canon 50D – Canon 24-70mm @ 31mm – F/3.5 – ISO400 – 1/160s – Canon 430EX speedlite off-camera w/radio trigger
Sunday was a stay at home day, with the wife going out and taking the car, I was stuck at home for a while looking after the girls, which was fine as the weather forecast wasn’t fantastic and the Russian Grand Prix was on that afternoon anyway. Before there was any hope of watching the race, I needed to feed the girls. Olivia was excited about the idea of helping me to get lunch ready for both of them, she absolutely loves to get involved and help when she can. I hope she’s this keen to cook when she’s older!
With lunch out of the way, it was nap time for Chloe and Olivia was more than happy to settle down to watch a film on the iPad (any excuse… she loves that damn iPad, but that’s another story!), leaving me free to sit and watch the race in peace. Then, almost as if I’d scheduled and engineered the day myself, Clare arrived home just as the race finished and Chloe was waking up. By this time Olivia had been very patient about not going very far or doing a great deal today, and was starting to get a little bored, so seeing as we still had time left we all threw some towels in out bags and headed out to the swimming pool for an hour.
We don’t normally do things so spontaneously, as getting out of the house can often take a lot of planning, but we managed to do it, and remember everything, and it turned out to be a really fun afternoon. I just hope we can do it all again soon. It was Chloe’s second time in the water and she seems to be quite enjoying it.
I’d put the slow cooker on that morning, and so dinner was ready almost as soon as we got home, after a few bits were thrown on the hob, to go on the side. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday at all, and the beauty of it was… no work on Monday morning. Gotta love a bank holiday weekend.
Todays photo was taken after our swimming session, Chloe was in one of her climbing moods again, and although engrossed in the tv she had decided she was going to sit on the backrest of Olivia’s chair. Repeatedly I took her down and put her on the floor, and seconds later she was back again. In the Good Parenting Handbook (This may or may not exist!) I am sure it mentions about removing temptation and taking the chair out of the room, but to be fair, she is now quite practised at climbing and getting herself down again, and seems to do it with some confidence. She was safely removed for about the tenth time straight after the picture was taken. No babies were harmed in the making of this photo!
T’was the first day of the holidays, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a… oh wait, we have children, we were up at the crack of dawn as usual!
With two weeks to spend together as a family, we made a few plans, mostly around who we were going to see on the days that Olivia wasn’t at nursery, as we don’t like to leave her out where we can avoid it. Today was one of the days where we had no plans, so I decided to text a friend and see if she was free. With her newborn baby, she was also off work, and it was a nice chance to catch up, plus her older son and Olivia always play well together.
A few hours always seem to flash by in the blink of an eye when you are in the company of good friends, and today was no exception, but I at least managed to grab a few photos while they were here. This one for todays shot was set up in less than five minutes, and the result of only a dozen shots. After briefly touching up a few aspects in photoshop a pretty standard procedure for all photos, I was happy that this was the sort of shot that would probably end up displayed on a wall. Its nice to be able to do this for friends.
People did die though, including a police officer whose only crime was turning up for work to protect people. These people never went home to their families that night, their light extinguished like a candle. It made me even more grateful to walk through the door and pick up my two girls. There is never any logic to attacks like these, we will never be able to understand what goes through the mind of someone who wants to hurt and kill people, and then loosely blames it on religion. I know this is oversimplifying it, but the bottom line is that someone wanting to maim and kill can’t be right in the head!
Its impossible to stick your head in the sand and pretend that this isn’t happening, I feel nothing but sadness for the poor families who are suffering as a result.
Yet life goes on.
When I am home with my girls, that is my focus. Today I came home to another Amazon delivery, hardly a surprise as they seem to arrive most days, only this time it is an early mothers day for the wife, and is promptly delivered to her by Olivia (who then dismisses it and goes back to watching Paw Patrol!). I took a gamble on some perfume, which I was fairly confident with and thankfully paid off, but was especially impressed by, not only by the smell, but also by the design and colours. A little something, bright and pleasant, to take our mind off the crazy world outside.
Wow! To think the 100 day countdown to the end of this years photo blog is already under way! I don’t think on this basis, that I need to be wishing any time away, but man is it starting to feel like a long week! I am quite in the mood for a Friday night beer, and yet it’s only Wednesday, although I can’t promise that the fact it’s only Wednesday is going to be enough to stop me anyway! Apparently there are a few that it will stop though, I see Macmillan have launched their Sober for October campaign to raise money by people saving the money they would have spent on wine and beer and donating that to charity. It looks like my regular drinking buddy has been signed up to it by his wife as well (she’s also doing it!) although I am not 100% confident he’ll reach the end of the month as he REALLY likes his nights out at the pub! He has all the right motivation though as they have a little boy with cystic fibrosis, which will be their charity of choice at the end of the month. Bit of a shame for me really, I was quite looking forward to a beer at the weekend after my detox session! Still, great excuse for takeaway and movie night in with the wife… well, that is if she can stay awake long enough to watch the entire movie!
So yes, it may be Wednesday, but as the photo for today clearly demonstrates, I have decided to treat myself to a beer! Don’t worry, I’m not drinking all of them tonight, the rest are for Friday! I have come to the conclusion that maybe I am actually only human after all, and as much as I like to keep myself busy, fill my time productively and avoid most of the reality vote-me-off rubbish on tv, there can come as time, as there has now, where I realise that maybe I have just taken on a little bit too much for myself. Mentally I am near exhaustion, and while there is nothing that a good holiday wouldn’t fix, sadly a holiday seems like a bit of a distant dream at the moment. So it is time to slow down and take a bit of time for myself, read a book, spend some more time with the family, and generally unwind a bit. I decided to treat myself tonight to a midweek beer, not that I am condoning that drinking is the answer to any of lifes problems of course, I just want to unwind and relax a little before bed time. Sleep is important and something I need more of, and I am sure the wife would rather I came to bed sooner instead of when she is asleep, although that isn’t always easy as she certainly loves her sleep! So just for tonight, I am enjoying a nice ale, no gassy lager for me, I am trying something a bit different. I have had a few ales in the past and I can’t deny that they are starting to grow on me! Yeah, maybe its an age thing, or maybe I have just learned not to follow blindly what everyone else drinks and actually dare to be a bit different. When you become a lager drinker you are limited to a handful of mainstream lagers, but as soon as you step into the world of ale, you are presented with literally hundreds, if not thousands of different beers! I even signed up with a new app on my iPhone today, whilst listening to my favourite internet radio show, Lunatic Radio (www.lunaticradio.com) one of the presenters, Adam, has spoke numerous times about an app called Untappd (yes, without the e) which is essentially social media for beer drinkers, and on the last show they even interviewed one of the co-founders of the app, who was a real genuine down to earth guy, and created it just for a bit of fun and never expected any one other than his friends to notice it, let alone for following of hundreds of thousands of users around the globe that it has attracted! You know what, I’ll try it, its a bit of fun, I just “check in” a new ale when I try it and could even find interesting recommendations out of it!
Anyway, bed time beckons, and I need some sleep!
“Nothing is predestined. The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.”
Tonights photo is a humble Aloe Vera plant, a gift from a friend that was just a small shoot and has thrived with minimal attention. I am hoping that this could symbolise some positive changes for the future, as I have been offered an opportunity with a friend to hopefully create a new business and bring some extra income into the home whilst meeting some great people along the way. Tomorrow I meet up with them to discuss how I am going to move this forward, but watch this space, I am hoping that exciting times lay ahead!
The sweet taste of Friday, the weekend is almost here. The weekend is going to be fairly simple, visiting a friend while Clare is out meeting hers on Saturday, and Sunday is all about the F1 Austrian GP. With the weather forecast being very encouraging, it will be a chance to get outdoors and either spend some time on the allotment or on the garden. There is plenty to be planted and we are running out of time to get it all down now.
Friday has been a beautiful and rather warm day, it was a rather hot ride home on the bike and I was keen to check the greenhouse as the door had been closed all day and I was worried about the plants inside being fried by the time I got home, but thankfully they were all okay, if not a little thirsty looking! Olivia has not had the greatest of days, not quite herself, sleeping lots and not drinking much water although it was warm. She had just woken up from another nap as I got home and was a bit grumpy for a while, but eventually came round just as the wife walked in, so it was dinner for Olivia, a quick bath and then back off to bed. Sleeping in thin layers and with her bedroom window open, hopefully she’ll get a better nights sleep. Before the night was over I wanted to get a new type of photograph taken, and so I set about preparing it. I’ll be honest, its not perfect, but I am still fairly happy with how it turned out, especially considering how little time I put into setting it up and the fact that I only had a few attempts at getting it right. So how did I do it? Well this may shed a little light on it for you…
Yup, thats it, nothing more glorious than a small fish tank and two speedlites. I had contemplated a black backdrop, but didn’t even need one in the end! I had to set the camera to manual mode, put it on a tripod and had to use a remote trigger to fire the shot as I stood next to the tank and dropped the apple in. There was no scientific timing, just a little luck! With the ISO set at just 100 and the aperture set at F/32 it meant that even with the lights on, very little light was going to be captured on the photograph, except that from the flash on the apple, hence the black background. Right, now for a movie and a glass of red wine that I am NOT going to drop all over the floor!
“The choices you make now, the people you surround yourself with, they all have the potential to affect your life, even who you are, forever.”
When the sun goes down, what can you do with your camera? Use a flash? Take a long exposure shot? How about both?! Today being Wednesday I was off work for the entire day and yet only took a couple of shots of Olivia. As many of you know, and those of you especially who may be facebook friends, by far the most photographed thing in my life is my daughter Olivia. Am I just a photo fanatic? Am I an over obsessed parent? I’d like to say neither on this count, I just want a record of her daily changes, in the hope that at the end of her first year I can do something with all these images, maybe put them into a short slideshow or something. Anyway, I opted against using my daughter as a 365 model today, and decided to play with the flashgun in the garden. I am not breaking any new ground here, its just a technique I’ve not really played with before, and to be honest I quite like the effect!
So whats with todays quote? Well, I am going to keep this one a little obscure for the time being, but part of my day involved meeting up with an old work friend that I haven’t seen for sometime to talk about something they have become a part of in recent months, a new venture, something that I am considering for myself. I have heard many positive things about it, but it will take a significant commitment from myself to make this work, but I am at a place now where I have to weigh up the consideration of what lies ahead either being “too good to be true” or a “fantastic opportunity” and try to work out what my next move is. I know, I know, I am being very vague about it, but I need to work this out in my own head before I get any input from others. It doesn’t sound like I have a lot to lose, but I don’t want to get my hopes up too much on how this could really help things for me.
Aside from that it was just nice to have today of with Olivia, as obviously we had no-one else to take care of her today. So as much as it stings a bit financially, it is always a pleasure to be able to spend a day with her. She has been so good, eating well and being so happy all day, right up until bedtime when she just runs out of energy and needs her sleep. Pretty much like I have been doing lately. I did manage to get a few things done around the house, like fixing a drawer and getting the lawn cut, but it does limit what you can do when you have a baby that needs entertaining. Peppa pig will only hold her attention for so long, and I hate just leaving her to watch the tv when I should be spending time with her myself! Still, its only for short bursts while I am trying to do things, I just don’t want the wife to walk in from work, look around the house with her hands on her hips and wonder what I have actually bothered doing today, with an accusing look in her eye! I am sure she would be totally understanding that sometimes you just have “one of those days” but with only one day off a week, I don’t want to appear like I have spent the whole day with my feet up watching Jeremy Kyle!