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!
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.
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!
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?
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!
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!
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!
Third day of the new Autumn term and the first day of the kids being back in meant a new class and some new faces to get used to. I wanted to feel more switched on, and be more on the ball, but I definitely wasn’t functioning at 100% today. I think a few cold germs, with the cumulative effects of repeated late nights over the holidays, on top of cycling to work again and pushing it hard in the rush hour traffic to keep up (after getting on the scales this morning and feeling truly horrified at the results)… it has all started to take its toll. I need a couple of days to slow down a little, get to bed early and do something about my diet.
This evening I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely couple, plus the mother of the bride who was proving to be a very useful point of contact, to have some final discussions about their wedding which is now less than two weeks away. The church is one that I haven’t photographed a wedding at before, but the reception venue thankfully is, and in fact it also happens to be where the wife and I had our wedding reception too, so it was lovely to head back there five years later. The last time I photographed a wedding there it had rained all day, so I am hoping for a little dry weather this time around.
As it was an early evening meeting it meant that I missed out on some time at home with the girls, so it was great to get home and have time to see them before they went to bed, and be able to read bedtime stories, as I didn’t think they would still be up when I got back.
Once the girls were in bed, it was time to sit down for dinner, and as usual the TV was on, I wasn’t really paying much attention until the wife flicked on DIY SOS. Now normally I don’t watch a great deal of TV, largely because me and the wife have very different viewing tastes, but also because there is rarely much on that interests me anyway. The wife will sit down with the sole intention of watching something, and will flick through the channels until something grabs her interest, whereas I will generally not watch any TV at all, unless there is something specific I want to see and I will make time to watch it before going back to what I was doing.
I knew that DIY SOS was going to tug at the heart strings though, it always does. For anyone that has never seen it, it is based around a family in need, either a parent or child with a life limiting illness or disability in a house that is totally unsuitable and unliveable, and in just over a week a huge team of local tradesmen and women all give up their time for free to strip the house back to a shell and transform it, and the garden, into something absolutely amazing. The results are often mind blowing and the family are invariably reduced to tears. This particular episode featured a lovely, decent, honest family where the dad, who wasn’t especially old, had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and was given just three years to live. Not even long enough to see his young girls finish school. As a father myself, I just found the thought of this absolutely crushing, life can be so unfair… and so to all those who thought the ALS ice bucket challenge was a waste of time and water… screw you, man! The $100 million or £76 million that was raised in a single month as a result, enabled ALS researchers to uncover a major breakthrough in identifying and working towards treating the disease.
Its things like this that make you stop and think about everything you have, and everything you should be grateful for, appreciating every day because you just don’t know how many you have left.
What have you been thankful for today?
First day back at work after the summer holidays and also the last day of my little girl being three years old.
After a summer of indulgence, there was only one thing for it, back on the bicycle to get to work, it was time to burn off a few of those calories with a bit of pedal power!
I used to love cycling, and getting to work in just 20 minutes during rush hour always made me feel good, and a bit smug if I am totally honest. I wasn’t feeling so smug today though, my fitness levels have definitely dropped recently and it was a bit of a tougher ride in than I was used to. Not having the freedom to take the car to work made it an easy choice to cycle to work in the mornings, but since getting the motorbike I have to argue the whole thing out in my own head as to whether or not I have the energy to actually cycle in, on top of how much fun it is to take the motorbike anyway, which doesn’t really help matters.
Since getting the motorbike in October, I think I have only cycled into work about three times. THREE TIMES! That’s terrible, its no wonder my jeans are all getting tight! What I really need now is the weather to improve during September, I am counting on someone doing a little sundance and bringing the warm weather this way. There is nothing more likely to put me off cycling at the moment than the rain! It has been miserable and persistent lately, and we’ve only seen a handful of sunny days throughout the whole of August. I am willing to forego some time on the motorbike as long as I don’t get soaked cycling to work. The big thing about taking the motorbike is that all my clothing is fully waterproof, and so I don’t get wet at all when I take that!
I need to do something though, lets just keep our fingers crossed that we get a little sunshine to inspire me, I will soon be hitting the gym again though, and hopefully stepping it up a bit. The next big thing I need to address is that pesky diet!
Its the mother in laws birthday, and we could finally we can unveil the canvas we’d created for her birthday, a family portrait taken by myself courtesy of the self timer. A morning out with Clare and the girls, and Clare’s brother and his family at a local park was kept under wraps, so as not to ruin the surprise. The resulting canvas did look lovely and the mother in law was clearly over the moon with it.
We had a lovely lunch for her birthday, and the girls loved playing with their cousins, and the day felt very special, a worthy celebration after the mother in laws illness and subsequent battle to recovery, especially now that all her treatment was over.
I look back on my fond memories of growing up as a child and all the fun I had playing with my cousins, and like to think that my girls are also creating memories that they will equally cherish when they are older. The dynamics of my family have changed a bit over the years, my aunts and uncles don’t get on quite the same as they used to, and I hardly see some of my cousins, but it is still nice to see them from time to time, in particular my cousins as we can all reflect on the fun we had and smile about the easy, care-free years of growing up together.
Families are funny things!