Day 097 – The fruits of our labour

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Day 97 – Jun 22nd

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!

Day 096 – El scorchio

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Day 96 – June 21st

The heatwave continues and seems to reach a new peak today. The morning starts out a little cool and cloudy, but apparently the sun is having none of that, and by the afternoon it feels like the earth is on fire! At work I am lucky to be in an air conditioned room, and it is bliss! Stepping outside the room, even briefly was like walking off the airplane in a hot country when you’re on holiday. 

This probably means nothing to you if you’re reading this in somewhere like Arizona, or India, but here in the UK the much cooler climate, plus the several hours of air con on an airplane whilst travelling to somewhere tropical means the heat as you step off the plane hits you like a slap around the face from a very angry woman that you’ve just insulted, after also insulting her mother and her children.

You get the idea!

The ride home on the motorbike was a completely different story, and after sampling how hot it was outside, I was almost tempted for a brief millisecond to not wear a jacket, but just knew that if I didn’t then today would be the day that something happened I fell off. I really don’t fancy using the skin on my arm to slow me down, that tarmac, whilst moving at 40mph underneath me would turn into a cheese grater on my skin! 

I think I’ll stick with being hot and sweaty for a little while, and getting home in one piece. 

A thick leather jacket, my choice of riding apparel, needs a fast flow of air to even stand a chance of not making you overheat, and in slow traffic there is little or no chance of that happening! I think I need to go shopping for more summer friendly bike wear soon!

At home the girls hadn’t coped too well with the heat, and they were both looking exhausted. The fan in the living room was on full, and all the doors and windows were open. There was just no cooling anything down. All we could do was throw both of the girls in the shower before bedtime, and set it to cool. It seemed to do the trick and they both slept well, so I decided to jump in the shower before bed myself, and set it to as cold as I could possibly handle. The only word to describe the water was bracing, and the over riding urge was to jump out, but I stuck with it, and it paid off.

I slept well.

Day 094 – Is it just me, or is it warm in here?

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Day 94 – Jun 19th

Boom! Flaming June gets to live up to its name at last, as the heatwave lands, and the temperatures outside are pushing the mercury past 30ÂșC all over the country, with more of it set to come as the week goes on.

I am feeling a bit rough after the weekend, the warm weather, eating crap food, drinking too much and staying up late enough to fall asleep on the sofa three nights in a row. Anyone would think I’d just discovered university and the student way of life or something. I need to be really cutting out the crap, drinking less and getting myself to bed at a sensible time!

For whatever reason, the roads seemed almost empty this morning, and the ride in was like a dream. I’d thought about cycling in, although was very glad that I didn’t as the showers were not working when I got to work, and I’d have been the guy that NO-ONE wanted to stand next to!! The motorbike was a lot more fun anyway, although this motorbike clothing was going to be hot work later on! Black, thick, padded… the kind of clothing you don’t want to stay still for long in, as long as I’m moving, I’m okay!

Today’s photo was sat down for dinner together as a family, the way dinner time should be. I was playing around with an old favourite lens, the 50mm lens, great for so many things, including portraits. Awesome for kids…. as long as they stay still for long enough, as the area of the scene that’s in focus is so narrow that the child only has to lean forward and their face is out of focus, and what was so close to be an awesome photo is subsequently deleted.

Day 092 – In case of fire, find water

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Day 92 – Jun 17th

Well the weather forecast has lived up to expectations, and even though it was early in the morning, the mercury was already starting to soar! My first job of the day was to get the car over to my mechanics garage, so he could check the battery and car our car starting properly again.

With that checked out, the next job was to drop Clare at the hospital to see her mother, before taking the girls home so Chloe could get a nap before we did something with our, as yet unplanned day. I contacted a few friends about an afternoon in the park with the kids, a couple of them already had plans, and I was about to resort to putting the paddling pool up in the garden under the gazebo for the girls, when my phone pinged with a message from one who hadn’t yet replied, and suggested we join him in his garden for some paddling pool fun with the kids. Game on!

The kids had fun playing together and splashing about, although it wasn’t long before Olivia took herself indoors to explore all the toys! We were in no hurry to leave, especially when another friend arrived with his little girl. Instead, we opened the cider (best drink on a hot day!) and got in some KFC for dinner!

From a day with no plans, it turned out to be a fantastic day, even if I did end up with burnt shoulders,
by simply assuming I wasn’t going to need cream as (I thought) I’d kept out of the sun enough to not really get caught out by it! Apparently not! Still, at least I don’t have the wife’s inherited faulty irish sun-averse genes, and this would eventually calm down and tan! I just hope I’ve passed on a few of my slightly more sun tolerant genes to the girls!

Day 069 – Some like it hot

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Day 69 – May 25th

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!

Day 068 – Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go

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Day 68 – May 24th

What a day! I am hot and tired, my day at work was going fairly well right up until the end. Working in a special needs school can indeed be a very rewarding job, as many people inform me when I tell them what I do.

The job has many positive points and I enjoy what I do. I’ve been in the job a long time, and know that I can do it well.

As a teaching assistant the hours are good, the weekends are always a nice bonus, and the holidays are a definite perk (if you don’t mind being fleeced when booking flights or holidays!).

Then there are days like today, when pupils tempers flare and they lose it. Having my t-shirt ripped, my iPad smashed, and being physically assaulted in a number of ways, it takes all your patience and training to get through it whilst keeping calm and trying to avoid injury. It can be mentally draining and you head home feeling like a bit of a failure for not being able to prevent this pupils meltdown. When you work with pupils with special needs, especially autism, the day can always be unpredictable, and even when you try your hardest, there are times when you’re just not going to win.

Thankfully these kind of days are rare, and I always have my family to look forward to at the end of the day when I get home. There is nothing better than getting home and being greeted by two smiling faces that are thrilled to see daddy finally pull up on his motorbike and walk through the door. Some days Olivia likes to sit on the petrol tank of the bike, and hold the handlebars as I push the it up the drive and into the garage, and Chloe just gets so excited, and gives the best hugs too, you really feel like she’s missed you!

With the wife heading out after dinner to visit her mother in hospital again, its down to me to get the girls ready for bed, although with the weather being as warm and pleasant as it is, there’s still time for a little play in the garden first! As it approaches bedtime, it soon becomes obvious that Chloe is getting tired, the hugs are a bit more frequent, the dummy is in and her poor lamb is being dragged around behind her wherever she goes! This lamb is becoming more and more valuable as each day passes. We currently have no way of replacing it with an identical one as we didn’t buy it and have no idea where it was purchased from, it isn’t supposed to be put in a washing machine, although it definitely doesn’t quite smell as fresh as it used to, and we’re dreading the day that the realisation dawns on us that we can’t find it anywhere. Still, we must continue to guard it like its made of solid gold or something, for if this thing gets lost, then we will be having fireworks at home!

Day 65 – Summer arrives and we find we’re allergic to it

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Day 65 – May 21st

Sunday really started to feel like summer was finally here, temperatures on the rise and the ground drying out from all the rain we’ve had. Likewise, the pollen count starts to rise and almost as if to punish us for enjoying the sunshine, it brings with it misery for hayfever sufferers like myself. Each year is different, and thankfully this year hasn’t been too bad so far, I am sure there is worse to come!

We’ve had a childrens party on the calendar for quite a while for today, from one well prepared parent at Olivia’s nursery. It seems that the popular choice for children around this age is to have it at a soft play centre of some description, and thankfully this one wasn’t far away from us. It was one we were unfamiliar with, and one we may well consider using again, as it was especially suitable for smaller kids. Half the problem with a lot of soft play centres is that they are geared up for older kids who are bigger and a bit sturdier, not only are some of the areas difficult for smaller kids to climb up, but the bigger kids tend to be much more reckless… and the parents rarely watch what they’re doing! The real bonus at todays party was that the entire place was hired out to just the one party, so it was closed off to the public. We still didn’t know a lot of the parents in there, but it was a little more reassuring that everyone was somehow connected and all the kids were a little safer. Soft play centres can be a little chaotic at the best of times, and you always have to watch your children like a hawk, being able to relax a little is a welcome relief.

Back at home the sun was out and it was time to get a little gardening done, pulling up a few weeds and tidying things up a little, with some help from Olivia. I happened to notice how the clematis that my sister had bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago had flowered again, and how pretty it looked. It was worthy of a photo for today. I’m still waiting for the rest of the flowers in the garden to blossom. Growing them from seed is a lovely way to do things, but they always seem to take a little longer.