Blog Archives

Day 215 – A little bit of black (and white) magic

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Day 215 – Oct 18th

If there’s one thing little missy loves, it’s a bottle of warm milk before before bed, is asignificant featured her bedtime routine, but the simple fact is that she is not far from her second birthday, and I don’t think we’re going to be seeing these bottles for much longer. 

It’s not that we are desperate to take them off her, but they have to reach a natural end at some point and I think we’re getting close. She’s still having a bottle in the morning before breakfast, and I think that’ll be the first to go as we can easily replace that with breakfast itself, although the bedtime one may take a little longer as we scratch our heads trying to remember how we handled this situation with Olivia.

I grabbed this quick photo as I thought she looked so peaceful and calm in front of the TV drinking her milk, although when I reviewed the picture later on, it didn’t seem particularly special, it was just another photo and needed a little something doing to it. Some photos look nice in black and white, others just seem to leap off the screen when you remove the colour from the scene. This, for me, felt like one of the latter. 

How often do you make our photos black and white?

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Day 192 – Can you speak slowly please

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Day 192 – Sep 25th

My brain is literally just taking up space today. When someone asks me a question, I am hearing dial-up internet tones before my brain starts retrieving information at dial-up speed and getting an answer back to you around five minutes later… and possibly a wrong or incoherent answer at that!

After yesterdays busy day the evening took a turn for the worse when Olivia woke up crying and coughing… a situation which pretty much carried on into the early hours and through the night. We tried cough medicine, childrens Ibuprofen, drinks, and keeping our fingers crossed… none of which seemed to work.

When it came time for getting up for work, I was in that frame of mind when you roll over to look at the clock, and with your eyes closed just keep your fingers crossed that its about 3am and you can roll back and go back to sleep… this didn’t prove to be the case. It was time, one way or another I was getting up.

My plan for cycling to work was swiftly abandoned in favour of the much easier motorbike option, it was about all I could manage today. Hopefully we’ll have a better night tonight!

Day 190 – Just take it easy

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Day 190 – Sep 23rd

The weeks can all tend to fly by so fast, and sometimes its good to slow down and take it easy. Saturday was a day that we did not want to do a great deal, with the only exception being our visit to the local fire station open day. The girls enjoyed seeing the fire engine, police van and ambulance, as well as the dance troupe that were putting on a demonstration. Which got us thinking about something we had only discussed recently anyway, the prospect of Olivia joining some kind of dance school or gymnastics thing. I know she’d love either one of those, but we can’t seem to work out which one will be best suited, or even what is on offer in our local area, so we still need to do our research and find out what there is for a four year old. We can’t rule out other options too, a friend of mine has recently enrolled her daughter into girls rugby, I’d naturally be quite happy for Olivia to do that if its what she really wanted, although the truth is that she’s just not that kind of girl… her sister, however, different story!

Our only other commitment for the day was one of my sisters coming for dinner that evening. It’s always nice to have my sisters over, although tricky trying to find a weekend where they’re both free at the same time. We ate, drank wine and had a pleasant evening, and even the wife managed to stay up a little later than normal, although thankfully it wasn’t too late, as our girls are pretty unforgiving in the morning! 

Day 187 – Why did you do it then?

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Day 187 – Sep 20th

Ah yes, hump day is here, we are now closer to Friday afternoon than Monday morning, its all downhill to the weekend from here. I had treated myself to a cruise into work on the motorbike, and even the weather was treating me to a dry day while on two wheels. I have committed myself to at least three days a week cycling as I need to make sure I keep up a regular amount of exercise each week, and although  I am already feeling the benefits, its nice to have a break in the middle and use a bit of horse power rather than leg power.

It is much nicer to get home not feeling all hot and sweaty and being able to pick the girls up without having to change out of a soggy top first… although today it seems that neither of them were especially interested in daddy getting home anyway. Olivia was burnt out from a shopping trip out on the bus with nanny and had collapsed on the sofa in front of the to before falling asleep shortly after I got back, and Chloe had only managed a 45 minute afternoon nap instead of her usual 2-3 hours and didn’t quite know what to do with herself, leaving her a little bit cranky in between smiles. 

Chloe loves to play and can get a bit rough at times, and has taken to head butting things lately, so today when she bumped her head on mommys knee it clearly hurt a bit. She got over it pretty quickly, but I still had to grab a photo as it was quite funny. She’ll soon learn to make the connection between head butting things and it hurting! 

Back out to the gym this evening, needing to keep up the exercise even though I didn’t cycle today. Feeling a little nervous about how much my foot is going to hurt in the morning if I run tonight, may need look into booking an appointment with a physio soon!

Day 186 – The day I remembered that I’d forgot

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Day 186 – Sep 19th

Back on track, and at least I’d made it half way through before I missed a day, although I can’t believe I just totally forgot, usually just before bed I’ll remember and at least make an effort. 

The project begins to get a bit more difficult from here onwards as we head into Autumn and the days get shorter and shorter giving me less daylight to shoot in after work. Sure there are other options, using the flash at home, long exposure shots at night, or taking the camera to work and shooting during the day, although the latter is brings its own challenges as I don’t get a huge dinner break to both go out and find some and also eat, plus when you’re cycling, the added weight of carrying a big camera in your bag is something you really don’t need. I tend to carry quite a bit in my rucksack at times and each little thing adds extra weight. It might not seem much as you pack each item, but it adds up and there are some days when you first pick the bag up that you begin to wonder how you’re going to cycle with that load on your back at all. There is also the fact I can’t shoot anything within my work environment as cameras and camera phones are generally not allowed in a school setting, especially in this era of heightened safeguarding. So although not impossible, photos during the day are tricky to say the least.

Autumn does bring with it some beauty though, and it is a season I love. The colours in the trees, the leaves on the ground, the way the sky seems to turn so blue. I was looking for a shot and managed to capture this pigeon as it flew overhead, contrasted against the sky. I knew that was my picture for the day.

Day 180 – Don’t leave it too late

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Day 180 – Sep 13th

One thing I’d had on my mind today was about making a bit more effort to take a photo, I was keen to capture some traffic trails, as I always think these look lovely. I knew the spot I wanted to use, a big traffic light junction near home, that is nearly always busy.

The weather forecast had suggested a bit of a rough day, I’d even taken the motorbike to work, to avoid the high winds and heavy rain that never ended up appearing anyway, but I was still aware that the long exposure shot I wanted to take could have been ruined if it got too windy and the camera moved while I was trying to take the shot. Thankfully the weather remained calm that evening, but because I’d left it too late to go out, I had literally missed the bulk of the traffic, and the resulting shot was not exactly what I’d had in mind. 

Stil, it wasn’t a bad shot, especially as I’d technically only gone out to get milk  for work the next day and failed because the shop had changed their hours and shut early, so at least it wasn’t a wasted journey.

Not the first time I’d had to make do with something because I’d yet again left it until the last minute. You’d think at my age it would be a lesson I’d learnt by now!

Day 179 – just tell me what you want

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Day 179 – Sep 12th

Buying presents for children seems to be something of a first world proble at times, a dilemma between letting them enjoy Christmas and their birthdays, and not spoiling them with so many toys that they forget what they own. There’s also the consideration of space and where to keep everything with an ever increasing collection of jigsaws, dolls, and musical toys. Our house is fairly compact, which is fine for us, but if we don’t keep things in order it quickly and very easily becomes untidy.

The girls toys can quickly seem to dominate a room once they get them out, it’s hard to keep all the bits together so things don’t get lost, and wit more and more toys appearing it means that some toys don’t even see the light of day for weeks at a time.

With all these toys choose from Chloe still has a new favourite above all others, something we didn’t even buy for her… the car. No, I’m not talking about the red plastic Mini Cooper push along childs car that we bought from Toys R Us that they play with in the garden, I mean the 2.0L turbo diesel one sat on the drive.

Chloe has started trying to say a few words recently and has clearly learnt the word car, and will stand at the front door pointing outside saying “car, car” over and over until either a) we manage to distract her (not easy), or b) give in and take her out, accepting that you’re going to be stuck in that car with her for a good ten minutes, and even then you may not manage to get her out without a bit of a fight on your hands!

Incidentally, on the subject of first words, one of the other words she is beginning to learn is ‘Alexa’ after hearing us talking to our Amazon Echo all the time… how very 21st century! It’s quite amusing watching her stand on the edge of the chair trying to shout up to it! 

What other unusual first words have you heard?

Day 178 – If you don’t try, you’ll never know

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Day 178 – Sep 11th

With hurricane Irma destroying Florida and the Caribbean I find it hard to really complain much about our fairly placid weather, plus it’s doesn’t make for a very exciting blog either, but today was a day of relative extremes for us here in the UK, glorious sunshine followed by torrential downpours, followed by glorious sunshine, followed by torrential downpours… you get the idea. It’s really stating to feel like Autumn has arrived, regardless of what the calendar is telling us it should be. The wind has picked up, a few leaves on the trees have started to turn red, some have even started falling off already. 

The biggest changes have to be the overnight temperature and the sunset times. At the height of summer there was still light in the sky at 10pm, but now it is almost completely black outside by 8pm. We’ve been lucky to have some very mild nights over the summer and haven’t even shut some of the upstairs windows in weeks, but over these last few nights we’ve really started to feel a significant drop in the temperature after the sun goes down, and the outdoor thermometer had recently been telling us that the temperature has dropped down into single figures during the night, (that’s basically below 50°F for our transatlantic friends) and it’s starting to feel a bit chilly at night, we are going to need to get our winter quilt back out of the loft and onto the bed this week, the summer quilt is just too thin to keep us warm at night! A brand new electric blanket to have the bed nice and toasty for when we get in, is already on order from Amazon!

The weather isn’t the only change going on at the moment, I also decide it was finally time to do something about my hair. I can’t even think of the last time that I had it cut, and I was beginning to get worried that if I sat for too long in one spot with a McDonalds cup in my hand that people may start throwing spare change into it! It was desperate!

I’d decided that I was doing something about it tonight, but instead of just buzzing the lot off like I usually do, I’d quite enjoyed having it a little longer on top, and so asked the wife for her help on doing something a little different with it. 

I was very pleased with the results, and considering the wife is no hairdresser, or even had much experience cutting hair, I think she did a cracking job! It seemed the perfect opportunity to try out my new backdrop to grab a photo of it. A single off-camera flash placed off to the side on a stand, and the black £10 backdrop hanging from the curtain rail was pretty much all I needed with my camera set up on a tripod. It turned out just as I’d hoped it would. Nice photo, shame about the subject!

Day 177 – Try to keep up with me

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Day 177 – Sep 10th

Sunday wasn’t supposed to be much busier than Saturday, but we still had a couple of things we wanted to do.

Our first thing was a trip out to the park to meet a friend and her little girl who was the same age as Olivia. They had both recently turned 4 and both of them had new bikes. We’d agreed to head for one of Birminghams most well known parks, Cannon Hill park as its nice and flat for the girls to ride the bikes, and there is plenty of space of the path for bikes and all the people on foot. The other added bonus is the Garden Tea Room.

Cannon Hill Park may be well known for the infamous arts centre, or MAC as its better known, located at the main entrance to the park, with its shiny new appearance, its shows, its sleek cafe and the courses and other things it puts on, but the Garden Tea Room sat on the opposite side of the park gets a little overlooked. It serves good food at a good price and you rarely have to queue or wait for your food for long. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, plenty of room to store buggies inside and they offer high chairs for the little ones. In fact about the only complaint I have about this place is the fact that they don’t accept card payments for any of the food or drink. A bit of an inconvenience, but if you know about this in advance then you won’t go hungry when you get there, as one of the things the entire park, and the MAC centre are missing is a cash point. Luckily we had cash, so when a rain shower appeared on our walk around the park, we took the opportunity to duck inside and grab a bite to eat and a hot drink.

The morning was a lot of fun, the girls had a fantastic time on the bikes, riding in circles, charging through puddles, racing each other, and frequently stopping to jump off and pick up feathers or horse chestnuts, all before we headed for the duck pond to feed the ducks. We chose a smaller pond, away from the main boating lake, as it is literally plagued by geese, and we would have been mobbed within seconds!

After leaving the park it was over to my mothers for a couple of hours. We knew we were going to be pushing Chloe through her nap time a bit, but she’s coping better with waiting now, although we can’t push her too far, no-one wants a meltdown… and when this girl goes, everyone knows about it!

After getting home and Chloe getting a much needed nap on the way back in the car it was time for dinner, and the good old english classic of toad in the hole being cooked up by the wife. What a way to finish a Sunday!

Day 174 – we are made of star dust

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Day 174 – Sept 7th

Its tough getting back into the swing of things after six weeks off work, and a poor track record of going to bed far too late. After feeling a little run down and unwell yesterday I decided to take the motorbike to work today, and it was so much nicer!

Sadly changes at work mean having to stay a little later than usual on a Thursday, so I couldn’t race home to collect Olivia from nursery, I had to leave that to the wife. As soon as I was home, Olivia was keen to get out on her new bicycle and go riding. She’d only had it two days, and I thought we’d end up just going up and down the length of our road, but she’d clearly been practising while she was at home yesterday and looked like she’d got this thing mastered, even using her brakes to slow herself down.

Todays photo was pretty much just an observation of how badly I need a hair cut. It was also a planned, deliberate pose… a close-up shot using the ultra wide angle lens, with a bounce flash illuminating me from above, and then converted to black and white using one of my favourite actions from my Totally Rad actions collection in Photoshop. It came out exactly as I’d imagined, that always makes me happy!

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