365 project, Photography

Day 302 – Is Sunday still a day of rest?

Day 302 – Jan 14th

I’ve always said that I want the girls to get out of the house whenever they can, rather than sit around and watch TV, and so after Olivia had asked to go swimming numerous times over the last few days, and I’d always found one reason or another to say no, I started to feel a little bit guilty, and I realised that this weekend I could change that. I was hoping we could arrange to meet friends at the pool so that Olivia would have someone to play with, but it was looking like most people were busy.

With the in-laws due over for lunch, I knew the wife would be too busy prepping and cooking lunch to join us, and if I took Olivia then I couldn’t leave Chloe out. So it was either take both the girls on my own, or disappoint Olivia again and take neither of them. I couldn’t say no again, I mean it was only swimming… what could go wrong?!

As it was, they were both fantastic, everything went to plan and I had no problems. They loved it, and I was happy that I’d taken them. We got home in plenty of time for lunch, and all sat down to eat once the in-laws arrived. With turkey and roast vegetables in the oven, it was starting to smell like Christmas Day all over again.

Once lunch was done, I just wanted to sit back and put my feet up and relax, but unfortunately I had promised my friend that I’d take a corporate headshot style photo of him, for LinkedIn and the likes. I really didn’t feel like doing this today, but I had promised and hate to let people down. I only had to get a half a dozen shots, so it shouldn’t take too long.

Sadly it was a very cloudy and dull day, and the shots I wanted to take using natural window light had to be scrapped. Thankfully I had a plan B and a plan C. The first, plan B, meant using two of my external camera flashes (otherwise known as speedlites) but with one placed in front of my friend and one placed behind him illuminating the wall. If that didn’t work out then I had Plan C, my studio flashes and backdrop to use, which was a lot slower and more fiddly to set up and take down, but would have guaranteed results. Thankfully this wasn’t the case, and the speedlites did a fantastic job, which was a good job as I had left all the other kit in the car, and it was rather cold outside!

365 project

Day 300 – We’ll just have to make the best of it

Day 300 – Jan 12th

Day 300, the last big milestone in the project if numbers mean anything to you. It is Friday night, and the torture of Dry January continues. It is lovely to be home from work early to spend an extra hour with the girls, but once they are in bed, we usually crack open the wine, open a bag of snacks of some variety or even one of those tubes that “once you’ve popped you just can’t stop”… you know the brand, then spend at least 20 minutes trying to find a decent film to watch, before we get 45 minutes into it only for me to notice that the wife is fast asleep and the film we finally compromised on could have actually been one that I really wanted to see instead! Ah yes, I love Friday nights at home, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Taking a month off the booze was a decision I have taken before, and failed at after a mere two weeks on my previous attempt. I don’t drink a lot, and never during the week unless I am on holiday, so it is only on a Friday and Saturday night that I actually miss it, and only because it has become such a habit, and a pleasant way to unwind at the end of the week, but its true, I do look forward to a drink at the weekend.

Still, my liver isn’t going to complain too much, my wallet seems a little relieved, but the big winner from all this I am hoping is going to be my waistline. The snack amnesty is still in force, along with the alcohol, and to be fair, both are going well. I am not missing any of them too much at the moment to consider myself weakened by their temptation. The results on the weighing scales have been positive, by doing nothing more than cutting out snacks and booze, I can see the weight falling off almost instantly. Of course, hitting the gym has helped a bit too, and I am looking forward to heading back at the weekend to see if I can push this running a bit harder!

So not our usual Friday night, but I am honestly missing the drink and snacks far less than I was expecting to. This bodes well for the rest of the month!

365 project

Day 294 – Silence is golden

Day 294 – Jan 6th

A quiet Saturday at home, the Christmas holiday has almost come to an end and its time to think about getting ready for my return to work on Monday.

The wife has a morning appointment at the opticians, meaning its just me and the girls for a couple of hours, and with no intention of going anywhere soon we can just relax around the house, we’ll worry about getting dressed later, there’s no rush right now. The girls chose to play upstairs and Olivia’s airbed was proving a popular choice.

After lunch was done for the girls, it was time for Chloe to take a nap, while Olivia went round to visit the grandparents with the wife, to help take their Christmas tree down. This presented a chance for me to put my feet up for a couple of hours, do nothing and try to close my eyes for a bit too.

It was optimistic at best though, my usual plans for napping usually end in me not being able to fall asleep when the opportunity presents itself. Oh well, at least I could put my feet up and relax for a bit, its a rare treat to not have little ones running around demanding attention. For as much as I love them, this little silent spell is bliss!

365 project

Day 293 – Isn’t it about time we had a good argument?!

Day 293 – Jan 5th

Ahh Ikea, the Swedish home of the good old family row! If there is are two things certain about this Scandinavian maze, its that a) you will end up spending WAY more than you intended to and come out with things you never went in for, and b) it will test even the strongest of relationships, often ended up in somebody losing their temper at some point!

We hadn’t been for a while and figured it was about time as we needed some new lamps of quite a specific design for our living room and this was the best place. Its fair to say that the lamps were not cheap, and even with this in mind we still managed to spend 2.5x the amount we intended to. The bill was so high that I even questioned it at the till.

The thing with Ikea purchases is that even if you spend a lot, you rarely regret what you’ve bought, and our new lamps looked fantastic, and fitted into the small space we needed them to. We even came away with a gorgeous wooden toy box for the girls toys, which although we weren’t planning on getting today from Ikea, we were looking at picking from somewhere or other very soon anyway. It added a significant chunk to the bill, especially with all the add-ons that you have to buy to go with it, or it doesn’t look like the display model, but the end result after an hour of putting it all together was one of total satisfaction.

My biggest regret of the day was not stopping in the cafe for delicious Swedish meatballs!!

365 project, Babies

Day 288 – Its certainly not like the old days

Day 288 – Dec 31st

Has it really been a week since Christmas eve?? Where has a week gone? It feels like we’ve done so little!

New Year’s Eve has always been a favourite night of mine, the party night of the year. Be it a house party or an evening in the city battling the crowds, some years I’ve even partied till the sun came up.

The wife isn’t quite as much of a fan of new years eve as me, it’s “just another night” in her opinion, which is fair enough, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Although in the past she has enjoyed a few parties with me and my friends at our one friends house who happened to have a bar and a dance floor in his conservatory and was happy to throw a party for a few years on the run, some good nights were certainly had there, and it’s just a shame the whole thing had to eventually be knocked down for an extension on the house.

Soon afterwards we became parents, and the New Years celebrations were pretty much confined to just the two of us, sat in front of the TV at home. I do miss the parties, but it’s the price you have to pay for parenthood sometimes. Of course, there is the possibility we could have planned in advance a little and organised our own party, but so many of our friends have also become parents in the last few years, that babysitters are strongly in demand and parties are generally quite rare now anyway.

So, we resigned ourselves to a night in. The girls saw a few fireworks before they headed off to bed and we ordered ourselves a takeaway, poured a drink and put the Wolf of Wall Street on to watch. I did get a last minute call from a friend to join them for a few drinks, but we had already ordered our food and Clare was going to attempt to stay up anyway, so I wasn’t going to see the new year in on my own.

Around midnight the fireworks kicked off, and our light sleeper Chloe somehow slept straight through them all, but our deep sleeper Olivia somehow woke up, and so we let her join us at the window to watch the phenomenal view that we had from our bedroom over a few miles of Birmingham, we had literally 50-60 firework displays going off as far as we could see, from somewhere down our road all the way up to a few miles away towards the city centre. I didn’t realise we had such a great view!

It may not be party central, but I had all I needed under one roof. Some good food, some drinks, some good tv and my wonderful family!

365 project

Day 287 – Maybe an old dog can be taught new tricks

Day 287 – Dec 30th

Back to the gym for me this morning. I have been thinking about the new year, and my eating and drinking over the last few weeks. I haven’t overindulged quite as much as I usually do over the festive period, I have been a little more reserved about it this year, but even so, Christmas is a time of excess, and although I am currently refusing to weigh myself, I know I have definitely put some weight on.

I decided to hit the gym this morning to get myself back into the mindset of working out, to get my fitness levels back up a bit ahead of hitting the gym in January. I need the new year to be a time of fixing a few of my faults, the first one being my diet, the second one being the current lack of exercise, and the third one being my ongoing obsession with getting to bed earlier and continual failure to do so.

The gym has recently been taken over and supposedly revamped, so it was disappointing to find several pieces of faulty and unusable equipment so soon after it reopening. Even so, I seem to have picked a good time to go, as the usually very busy car park was much quieter. I’m sure that people from the neighbouring cinema use it in the evening, which is the time I usually go to work out. I soon took my mind off the faulty equipment though, as I tested a new item I had taken along… my Skullcandy bluetooth headphones. Oh my, working out with wireless headphones is a total revelation… its like driving a car for 12 months before finally realising that you have a second gear! It has inspired me to head back again soon, as working out with wired headphones has been one of the single biggest causes of irritation since I joined my gym almost 12 months ago. I know Apple got slated for taking away the headphone jack with the introduction of the iPhone 7, and leaving it out with the iPhone 8, but maybe, just maybe they’re onto something!! On top of which, I have been slacking a lot lately nursing a few running injuries, and they seem to mostly have gone now, I actually quite enjoyed my workout!

Yeah I’m gonna be one of those guys… the “new year, new me” crew!!


Day 271 – How to survive on 3 hours sleep

Day 271 – Dec 14th

After the Star Wars viewing at the cinema I was home and in bed for just after 3am, and back up again just after 6am to get ready for work, I had to somehow make it through today on 3 hours sleep.

I got to work and strangely felt fine, with far more energy than I had expected. I should have seen it coming, but by midday my body had caught up and I was struggling to stay awake at work. Thankfully I was halfway through the day and only had the afternoon to go. It was funny walking around the building catching up with the guys I’d been to see the film with to find out how they were all coping.

It was a huge relief to be finally home and relax with the family ahead of getting an early night and trying to catch up on my sleep a bit. It all seems like a bit of an effort, but theres every chance we’ll be heading back to the cinema again this time next year to do it all over again!

365 project, Photography

Day 267 – The white stuff is so much fun when you’re little

Day 267 – Dec 10th

The snow came. The forecasters were right. I was dubious, I’ll admit it, as normally each time we get a snow warning it ends up just being scottish mountains that end up getting it, nothing down on the flat lands of the Midlands.

We definitely had one excited little girl when we opened the curtains, she couldn’t wait to get outside! Today was clearly a day for walking though, there was no taking the car out on the road. The snow continued to fall throughout the morning, so there was no real hurry to get dressed and get outside in it, it certainly wasn’t going anywhere! So we decided to take the new sledge that the wife had had the foresight to purchase yesterday, and go for a walk with it. All four of us dressed up in hats and scarves and set out for a walk taking the long way round to see nanny and grandad, although it didn’t last long, this was Chloe’s first real experience of snow, and it became quickly clear that it was not something her little legs enjoyed walking in.

Olivia, on the other hand, was like Robert Scott heading off for the South Pole, there was no holding her back! Clare took Chloe back and headed round the short way to the in-laws house while me and Olivia set off on our adventure to meet them there later.

It came as no surprise that even the busy Hagley Rd, which we had to walk along on our little adventure, was struggling with the snow, it was coming down too fast for the traffic to keep it clear, and there were still several crazy car drivers who refused to stay put, insisting that their super important journey was most definitely worth the risk of crashing or getting stuck in this persistent and increasingly hazardous weather. For me it is just not worth the risk, we’d listened to the forecast the previous day, and having assumed the warnings were correct had been shopping to ensure we had enough basic supplies to see us through a couple of days, meaning that if we didn’t want to go out, then we didn’t have to. Our venturing out today was purely just for the fun of it.

365 project

Day 266 – You wait ages for one party then two come along

Day 266 – Dec 9th

A double party day, meant we were up early on the Saturday for the party of my friends son on a party bus. It was a cold day out, but the kids managed on the bus as there was plenty of jumping around and dancing going on. The bus itself was parked up on the car park of a pub that my friend had taken over, and so most of the parents could stay inside in the warmth, with us all taking turns to supervise outside.

From there it was onto a different kind of party, it wasn’t actually a celebration of any kind, but our antenatal group were meeting up again. We always meet up at christmas, and for the first couple of years went for food, although this year it was as much for the kids as the adults and one of the group had booked a venue that I’d never heard of before. Instead of the usual soft play, this was a brand new imaginary play centre. An old pub had been converted into a children’s play area, on one side was a shop area, a construction area, a doctors area, a kitchen area and a dressing up area, and on the other side was a cafe and seating area for the adults. I chatted briefly with the owner and would certainly look to go back in the future. We managed to grab a nice photo of the kids before they chose their secret santa gifts, although by now most of them have either a brother or sister and so it may well be a bigger group photo in the future!

We had two more things to do on the way home, firstly if everyone else was taking this snowfall tonight seriously then maybe we should too, so we stocked up on a couple of essentials like bread and milk in case we couldn’t go far for a couple of days. Secondly by the time we were actually heading for home it was too late to cook, and so the final stop of the day was the chip shop for tea!


Day 265 – Sometimes you will get surprised

Day 265 – Dec 8th

It was time. The alarm had gone off, it was Friday morning and the truth of whether or not the forecasters had been right was about to be revealed…

Yup, there had been snow, but nothing like we’d been promised… no shock there then! I’d planned to cycle to work and it still seemed like the best way to get there. The motorbike could easily go over due to its weight, and the car could get caught up in the inevitable traffic chaos that was likely to go with a sprinkling of snow.

As it turned out, the school was closed to pupils and with the threat of more snow on the way, we were pleasantly surprised that staff were also being sent home at lunchtime.

It was so nice to be home by 1pm on a Friday, the girls were over the moon to see me. With Chloe heading up for her afternoon nap, I took Olivia out to the local nature spot of Warley Woods to run about in the snow and throw a few snowballs at me. Its a huge gathering area for local people when it snows due to a gentle slope that is perfect for small children to slide down.

It was just enough snow to enjoy for an hour, although it hadn’t caused any real problems on the roads, and so there was virtually no disruption because of it. The real threat was the forecast for a real heavy snow shower on Sunday night, and people were starting to take this one a bit more seriously!