365 project

Day 280 – What? More pizza??

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Day 280 – Dec 23rd

Today didn’t quite go as planned. In the morning I was dropping the wife into town for her to have breakfast with her friends, and then pick her up afterwards so we could visit our friends for lunch and present swapping. While she was with her friends I was supposed to visit my nan, as she hasn’t seen the girls in a while, which I feel a bit bad about… but it turns out that today she wasn’t feeling very well, and wasn’t really up to visitors. She’s turned 90 this year, and isn’t doing too bad for it, and loves having visitors over, she never says no as long as she is in, although today she just wasn’t feeling it. Instead we headed over to my moms instead. Quite often the wife will take the girls over to see her while I am at work, so it was a bit different that now it was my turn to take the girls over without the wife.

After picking the wife up we made the drive over to our friends house and enjoyed an afternoon there, tucking into more… yes, you guessed it, pizza!! My third day in a row of pizza for lunch, which I couldn’t have done much about even if I’d have realised it was going to happen! I am certainly going to be making the most of the gym in the new year, I’ll be looking like a pizza by the end of the year! Thankfully this week my latest eBay order had arrived, a set of Skullcandy bluetooth headphones to use at the gym. My new iPhone 8 Plus is a lovely bit of kit, but like its predecessor was still missing the headphone jack, much to the annoyance of most iPhone users and smug amusement of android users. To be honest the cable was such a pain in the neck at the gym that I was hating it anyway, this can be nothing short of a revelation!

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365 project, Photography

Day 221 – Make any excuse, just go outside

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Day 221 – Oct 25th

Oh what to do to entertain the kids during half term? Well, they already get plenty of time in front of the tv, and we’ve been to the park… my one passion is to get the girls out of the house where we can and going for a walk, exploring nature and just enjoying being outside. 

A bit of fresh air and a good walk is guaranteed to wear the girls out, and hopefully they’ll get a really good nights sleep from it, although to be fair we did get really lucky with two girls who already sleep well anyway. 

A short drive away from where we live are the Clent Hills, a National Trust location that attracts a lot of walkers and families from all over the surrounding areas. It’s a place I have been going to for over 20 years and have probably only ever explored 15-20% of it. We did start to explore a little bit further when Olivia was walking a lot and Chloe was in a baby carrier,  it but now Chloe is also walking we’ve had to reign in the length of our walks a bit as Chloe’s little legs just can’t walk that far, and she loves to join in with the walking instead of being carried all the time. The distance we cover is significantly less, and it is more about just exploring nature and getting outdoors than how far we get.

We’d left our walk a little late in the day, as trying to work around Chloe’s nap time can be tricky, but these last couple of weeks we seem to have had teething rear its ugly head with an absolute vengeance, and we are seeing many of the evident signs, besides the appearance of teeth. One of which is the clear need for her to get a good 2-3 hour nap during the day. Some days we can push it and get away with less, but it catches up with her. We made it out today with just enough time before the sun went down, and it was nice to see the girls enjoying the outdoors, although putting wellies on was definitely a good idea as Olivia was straight into the muddy puddles and soon soaked from the waist down! Peppa pig has a lot to bloody answer for!!

365 project

Day 199 – Don’t take anyone down with you

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Day 199 – Oct 2nd

Las Vegas, the city of bright lights and entertainment. Overwhelming and over the top, and so who could have imagined the horror that would see so many dead in such a short space of time.

You’ve no doubt seen the news, you don’t need me going over the same thing again, it is heartbreaking. A lunatic who doesn’t flip out, he actually plans to murder as many people as possible and takes several days to prepare everything, yet with no apparent motive, although it has been reported that he set up cameras in the room to record his killing spree. Family and neighbours described him as pleasant and friendly with no prior interest in guns.

The great question of gun laws surfaces yet again in America, and if there is one thing that is fairly certain about it, its that there will never be any agreement about how to handle it. Many Americans see it as their right to carry guns on them or in their house, and believe they are equally fully entitled to use them… and then there is the rest of us, the entire rest of the world who think that apparently Americans just can’t be trusted with guns and we may as well just be handing them out to children!

Seriously, in the UK we have around 150 gun deaths per year, a similar figure to many other countries around the world, which stands in stark contrast to the 13,000 gun related deaths in the USA. Yeah, thats right, all those 000’s are in the right place. Its not to say that in the UK we don’t have our own problems, and guns are a concern for many people, but the numbers speak for themselves! Whilst it may be part of the 2nd amendment to carry arms in the US, we have to remember that the constitution is 250 years old and may need to be revised to meet the 21st century. It has also been noted that Nevada is actually one of the most gun tolerant states in America, and while a lot of Americans like to pipe up about their right to protect themselves it seems that this week there are now 59 dead people and over 500 injured people who didn’t feel very protected by this fact, and people being allowed to openly carry guns certainly seems to be the reason that the largest mass shooting in America could potentially see the death toll continue to rise in the coming days.

What is most striking about this is two things, a) absolutely no-one can seem to find any motive, none at all, absolutely none, and the other thing is he has always planned to shoot himself, which begs the question, if you’re going to commit suicide anyway then why take out so many innocent mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives before you go? What did they ever do to you? If you gotta check out early, then just do it, but why cause so much pain to strangers who you never even met? It is one question I am fairly sure we will never answer.

America, wake up! No-one needs guns! The rest of the world is doing just fine without them!

365 project

Day 195 – I’m not working for nothing

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Day 195 – Sep 28th

September has usually been a fairly good month for weather, and we have seen things dry up a little as the sun comes out after the frequently mixed weather of August. Today there was some beautiful autumn sunlight coming through the window that I wanted to capture as the sun began to set.

It was my third day of cycling to work and I was very much looking forward to riding in on the motorbike tomorrow, especially as I had extra luggage to take in, although my rucksack has been especially heavy this week whilst cycling. I have been carrying a camera, just in case, for my 365 project, but the main weight was due to my MacBook, which I wasn’t keen about carrying on my back whilst cycling, but I needed to edit some staff photos for work that I had taken that I really didn’t want to be dealing with at home in my own time as I wasn’t being paid for it. I don’t usually take photos for free, out of principle, unless it is a gift, but these should work in my favour, and as a one-off I will hopefully reap some benefits from it.

365 project, Photography

Day 188 – How do other parents do it?

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Day 188 – Sep 21st

Tonight was a big event for us, the first open evening of a potential new school for Olivia for when she starts this September. We have finally had to start looking into schools as we need to have registered our choices by christmas, and so finally we have to admit that our little girl is growing up fast. School is the next big stage in her life, the point where we have to let go and watch her fly. Its going to be an emotional time. 

We still have at least one more school to check, and it’s tough working out which is the right one, this is going to massively affect their lives, who they become, what friends they make, maybe even what they want to become one day. 

Still, once that decision is made there’s the realistic prospect that we have literally no idea how we’re going to do the school run every day. When both me and the wife were growing up our mothers used to stay at home, and they’d walk us to and from school each day, and be there if we had to take a day off sick. It seemed normal. 

Modern life is quite different to this, both parents quite often work full time and usually develop a lifestyle that makes it hard for one of the parents to give up work. Grandparents have become heavily relied on in recent years, doing a lot of the childcare for small children while the parents work, and I’d imagine that a lot of them are doing the school run too. 

Realistically our only hope is breakfast and after school clubs to provide that wraparound care making drop off and pick up just a little bit easier. My job working in a school is totally inflexible, I can’t go in late or leave early, as that’s just not how it works, and the wife will also be working in a 9-5 environment when she finally goes back to work.

How do other parents cope??

365 project, Photography

365 project: days 309 – 316

We’re now up to day 316 at the end of this post, which means less than 50 days before the end of this 365 project. I think it will be an interesting one in terms of seeing how Chloe has changed so much, from being born to sitting up, standing and crawling, and who knows… maybe even walking before we finish? There will be obviously much less of the trick photography and clever shots that there was in my first year doing a 365, but it has been good to document the year and keep my finger on the shutter button so my skills stay fresh between weddings etc.

The worst bit is that I just realised I had created a draft of this post and never actually posted it! D’oh!

309: With the christening just 10 days away, its time to finalise the list of who is coming. We’re quite relaxed about this one, as we’ve done it once before and waited a little longer to do this because of the harness that Chloe had to wear when she was a few months old, the same age Olivia was when she was christened.

Day 309 - Nov 10th
Day 309 – Nov 10th

310: One thing we have seen a lot of during November has been some amazing sunsets, and its always hard to let one pass without picking the camera up. Its just a little annoying that we have telegraph poles with cables stretching across the street, so I decided to take to photoshop to get rid of them and tidy this image up.

Day 310 - Nov 11th
Day 310 – Nov 11th

311: Cuteness. A gorgeous smile and the fact that this little lady is standing at every opportunity she can find. She loves being on her feet.

Day 311 - Nov 12th
Day 311 – Nov 12th

312: A quiet Saturday where we don’t do much more than head out to the local Tesco Extra store, and find their impressive christmas aisle, and almost decide to head home and get the tree out of the loft. Thankfully we manage to resist the urge. Once home, we find the girls both asleep in the car, and decide to leave them there for a little while as they were both wrapped up and warm, and we could see them easily from the living room window.

Day 312 - Nov 13th
Day 312 – Nov 13th

313: The supermoon! Well, thats what everyone was saying anyway. Truth be told, I couldn’t see a massive difference by the time I got outside with my camera. I think the most obvious difference was when it was rising, but it was hidden in cloud at that point from where I was. Managed to get a half decent shot of it though. Gave up hand holding the camera for this kind of shot, and got the camera mounted on a tripod.

Day 313 - Nov 14th
Day 313 – Nov 14th

314: With my 70-200mm lens still attached to the camera, I decide to sneak a pic of the wife, as she is doesn’t often want her photo taken these days. Its a great lens for portraits, but doesn’t fair so well in really low light, mostly due to its sheer weight!

Day 314 - Nov 14th
Day 314 – Nov 15th

315: Sending Olivia to nursery was one of the best things we did, she has got so much from it. Today she came home absolutely exhausted and passed out on the sofa watching childrens programmes on the tv, and even gave up on her biscuit!

Day 315 - Nov 16th
Day 315 – Nov 16th

316: Bath night, and this little lady looked so grown up after we finished in the bath, as she was sat there with her hot chocolate and her legs crossed!

Day 316 - Nov 17th
Day 316 – Nov 17th

365 project, Personal, Photography

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What a day! The weekend has flown by and it has been wonderful, as it often is! Time with my two favourite ladies and I feel like I have been quite productive and even learnt something new along the way, I have even discovered the joy of Aloe Vera. Its a bit of a weird one, I grant you that, but I have been introduced to it by a friend and the benefits are immense. So far I am on an Aloe drink, which I won’t harp on about too much, but needless to say, in just a few days it has boosted my energy levels already and I feel fantastic!

Today I was looking forward to both a family BBQ and a business meeting, although sadly they overlapped, so I had to leave the BBQ early. I did manage to grab a couple of birthday before I went though! The weather forecast wasn’t great for today and it was a little cloudy and windy, but it stayed dry and the sun came out eventually, which always makes me happy when people have gone to the effort of putting a BBQ on, as we will be next weekend, so keep your fingers crossed for a sunny weekend for us! After the meeting I came home to a rather messy little daughter who had turned a cheese sandwich into a disaster zone, but she seemed to be enjoying it, so who am I to complain? There was just enough time before her bath for the three of us to head out for a walk while there was still a bit of sunshine in the sky. Poor little Olivia had so much fun with her cousins at the BBQ that she missed a lot of her nap time and was a very tired little lady this evening, so a quick bath and a bottle of milk and she was off to the land of nod. She is coming along leaps and bounds at the moment, and made mommy and daddy really proud this weekend by taking some proper steps while I held her hands. She loves standing up and being on her feet, although it will still be a while before she can do it on her own, but it was great to see those little feet moving and know they we are one step closer to our house being destroyed by tiny hands! Bring on the carnage!

365 project, Personal, Photography

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“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
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I just haven’t had the energy today, for anything! I had no choice but to force myself to jump on the bike this morning, although it ended up being a nice ride in, and I had to stop myself from talking myself out of tonights jujitsu session. The day has been mostly good, although not terribly exciting. Between work and training there hasn’t been a great deal going on. I generally don’t like to talk about work too much on here, its generally frowned upon by most companies, and so I try to avoid it when I can, even though it would never be in a negative light anyway. The day was fine and it still seems a bit strange to think that we are only 8 school days away from the next half term! It was good to see my good friend Alan at work today who has just turned 30, and will be joining us on Thursday night so we can cook him a nice birthday meal. When he was off on his travels I thought he’d still be in Australia for his 30th, and we wouldn’t be able to see him, but now he’s back so we can at least do something nice for him!

I came from from work today to be greeted by smiles from the daughter who is looking more and more like a little girl and less like a baby with each passing day, its almost making me a bit nervous. I hate the fact that I don’t get enough time to spend with her on a Tuesday, but unless I give up my jujitsu training then there isn’t a great deal I can do about it. I had one job to do this evening, and that was to drop Phils memory card from Saturdays wedding back with him. He lives not far from where I practise jujitsu each week, which makes it easy to swing by his on a Tuesday, but in trying to find the right memory card, I had yet another one fail on me, a brand new £25 memory card that should have lasted me years, but has in fact lasted me a grand total of six weeks! It didn’t do much for my already grumpy mood. When I am tired, being grumpy seems to come so easily to me, and today I was tired! With our car still off the road, and the hire car returned, the only wheels at my disposal was the in-laws car which we have both been put onto the insurance of for the week. It was a nice car to drive, but it made me rather nervous, I quite simply DO NOT want to be explaining away scrapes and dents to the in-laws when they get back from their week in the sun! I am sure bad news is never welcome, let alone when someone has just landed and has post holiday blues, but to say to them “I hope you enjoyed the holiday, sorry about your car…” is never a line I’d like to be repeating! Thankfully, the journey was fairly event-free, even I though I pass through the same roundabout each week where people seem to think that not only is it accepted, but is totally expected and pretty normal for people to be going right and taking the third exit whilst approaching the roundabout in the left hand lane!! Has no-one in this part of town passed their test?? Worst of all, while I approached in the right hand lane, indicated right, and turned right, I had some stupid woman blast her horn like she had no idea where I was going and acted like I’d just cut her up with some incompetent driving! Clearly, like the other morons, she’d approached in the left lane, turned right, then realised we weren’t both going to squeeze onto the same narrow bit of tarmac! I get so frustrated with the sheer stupidity of car drivers, more than enough proof for me that mankind is doomed! Its idiocracy happening right in front of us, the human race is literally dumbing down! When people are watering dead plants with Gatorade and watching tv programmes such as “Ow! My balls!” you’ll remember I said it here first!!

365 project, Personal, Photography

91.365 Naaaaahhhhh!!

Okay I’ve been rumbled, i’m totally not giving this up at all!

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Okay, it was a weak attempt at an April Fools prank, and I am still going to be carrying on this journal. My plan at the very least is to capture the entire journey from bump to Olivia’s first birthday. I know I have included a lot of photos of Olivia, and I can’t apologise for that, my little princess gets more beautiful with each day and nothing makes me happier than capturing the changes day by day. So many people have joked about her being the most photographed baby ever, and while that isn’t exactly true, I can’t lie that I do take a lot of photos, but in my defence, I never tire of looking back on them at how she has changed so much in such a short space of time. It may come from the fact that I have so few photos of myself growing up, it was clear that my dad was obviously the photographer, and my mother wasn’t too good with a camera, so when they split up, the number of photos of me drastically reduced. It does make me a little sad, but it is what it is, and I can’t change it. It does reinforce the need for me to keep capturing photos of everything, the little details, and record them in this blog too. I do wonder, will I be looking back on this in years to come, and bringing back all the memories of things we’d forgotten about, I’d certainly like to think so. I’d love to be able to share Olivias time growing up with her when she’s older, and on the subject of the little madam, I was quite pleased to be in bed an hour earlier than usual, but was a little surprised to be woken up by crying at 3:45am as its very unusual to hear Olivia crying much, especially for no obvious reason in the middle of the night. Its a hard call to make, when she stops crying as soon as she’s picked up and starts again when she’s put down. It could be that she just wanted the attention, but its so unlike her. My guess is that her teething woke her up and she just wanted comforting, which you can’t argue with really. It’s not like we’re always giving in to her and teaching her bad habits, as long as this doesnt happen on a regular basis. Hopefully tonight we’ll sleep straight through. So this morning, after Olivia kept us awake for an hour and a half during the night, I was feeling like I was starting the day running on uncharged batteries, on top of which I think I’d picked some germs up from somewhere which really didn’t help. I was a little concerned as tonight was my last session of jujitsu training ahead of next weeks grading for my next belt, and also I am getting back on the treadmill tomorrow morning! A 30 minute bike ride followed by 30 minutes running before I start my work day takes a certain amount of energy and commitment, so I need to catch up on some rest and build my energy back up. I wasn’t the only one suffering of course, the wife was also exhausted as she’d tried to comfort Olivia last night, in an attempt to stop her from waking me up. Normally when I get home from jujitsu, dinner is often waiting for me, but tonight I knew she was to tired, and so chinese take away it was. After eating I had to pop back to asda to get a few supplies, and came across two kinds of people that I really can’t stand, firstly the couple being stopped on the way out by security for clearly stealing, I have no time for people who steal as its regular people who suffer, and then as I was leaving there was the group of young girls who essentially stuck two fingers up to all disabled people and just threw their car into the last available disabled parking bay without a care in the world for any disabled customers who came in behind them. Absolute scumbags, makes my blood boil! Although the car/motorbike road accident at a dangerous junction just up the road soon puts things into perspective and makes you really consider whats important in life! It can all be over so quickly, but then I do get a good sense of that when I take to the road on two wheels myself! Oh well, bedtime it is, I’m back in the gym in the morning!

Night all!

365 project, Personal, Photography

Day 365/365 – 2013 completed!

“Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day.”

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So the sun has quite literally set on 2013, and we can almost hear 2014 tapping on the door. Yet again, going through facebook, I see posts from all sorts of people complaining about what a terrible year they’ve just had and how they hope next year is going to be so much better, pretty much like everyone did last year as well. With every year there are highs and lows, and yes the lows have affected me too with the loss of my aunt and of my work colleague, but the highs have been amazing, most of all with the arrival of my beautiful daughter Olivia who has really blessed and enriched our lives and made us feel like the luckiest parents alive. I don’t want to look back on 2013 and hope that next year will be better like so many, I am truly grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that this year has presented, and I open my arms to embrace 2014, with all the great potential it offers. Our little girl is going to go through a massive learning curve in the next 12 months, and I can’t wait to watch this little baby grow and become a proper person. I am excited to teach her new things and be able to spend real quality time with her, and help her grow and develop. I know there are a few people following this who are keen to share this journey as well, rest assured the photos and the stories will continue. The other highs of the year I kind of went over in yesterdays post, but its fair to say that becoming a family and moving into our own house is going to be hard to top in 2014!

We have decided to keep things pretty low key for our first new years eve as a family. With some of our friends still pregnant and others new parents like us, the options were limited anyway, but we’re trying to get Olivia into a proper bedtime routine and with the wife not the biggest fan of new years eve anyway, it seemed like the logical decision. So we sat down to a candlelit dinner together, with a drink in our hands and appreciated what we have around us. With food done it was time to give Olivia a bath before bed, although she was already far too tired to enjoy it, so it was over pretty quickly. Now with Olivia asleep, its time to kick back, pour ourselves another drink and get a good film on!

So happy new year everyone, and thanks to those of you who have been following this regularly and to those who have recently found me. Have a wonderful evening, and for those in Australia, I hope you HAD a wonderful evening! All the best and see you in 2014!!