365 project, Photography

Day 329 – I sure ain’t 21 any more

feb-10
Day 329 – Feb 10th

Our Saturday started with Olivia’s dance lesson, as usual, although it involved me taking her instead this week, while the wife stayed at home with Chloe. The nice thing about these dance lessons is that they don’t start until 10:30am meaning we can take it nice and slow in the morning, and don’t have to rush to get ready.

This evening it was my turn to cook dinner, as we had put a chicken and chorizo jambalaya on the menu, a delicious dish thats fairly easy to prepare, but for some reason has always been one of those dishes that the wife has left me to cook. I do quite enjoy cooking, but don’t seem to get many chances to do it at the moment while the wife is off work. Its easy to get used to someone else cooking the dinner all the time, and whilst I certainly don’t take the wife for granted, and initially did miss cooking a bit, you soon get over as it is quite nice to be cooked for, but this scenario won’t last forever, I’ll no doubt be doing a lot more of the cooking once the wife goes back to work.

Tonight’s meal wasn’t the sort of dish we normally give the girls, but to our surprise they both ate some of it anyway, although Olivia needed a little more coaxing than Chloe, but it still gives me the green light to cook it again soon.

Then… it was time. I’d got approval from the wife to go out and met my friends for some drinks up town. I say I’d got approval from the wife, only because it was supposed to be her night out with friends. Her night was pre-planned, and mine was last minute, but as it happened, hers was postponed anyway, so I could go. I do miss the days when we went out together, having the girls has really put the brakes on those sorts of night, but I’m sure we’ll be able to get back into it soon as the girls are sleeping better now.

I jumped in a taxi to head out and meet my friends. Normally I get the bus, but it was cold, the weather was miserable, and I didn’t want to be hanging around waiting and end up being late. A good night was had, but it seemed that some of the group had itchy feet and kept wanting to move from one bar to another, which was fine until the rain started pouring and after a few drinks no-one quite knew where they were going.

When someone said the word “shots”, I knew the evening was about to get messy, and after a few shots, I was done! Time to jump in a taxi and head home… before losing my phone in the taxi and having a moment of panic at 1:30am until the kind taxi driver brought it back. After having my nice, expensive iPhone only 3 months, I was quite relieved to be reunited with it again. Half an hour felt like forever!

I seem to be out of practise with these nights out!

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365 project

Day 307 – Its like Christmas all over again!

jan-19
Day 307 – Jan 19th

Ah, the sweet taste of the weekend. There is no secret in how much I love my Fridays. 48 hours at home with the family and no work to worry about while I am off. The weekend has always meant several things, relax and watch a film with the wife, some snacks and a few beers/wines/whiskeys (delete as appropriate). It has also meant staying up a bit later, and having no alarm clock apart from the small, two legged, organic ones that sleep in the other rooms and come in to wake us as soon as they’re awake.

Why is it… and I know other parents are asking the same question… why is it that you only have to drag kids out of bed during the week, for at the weekend they are up before sunrise?? I cannot complain too much, we have two fantastic girls, they go to bed at a sensible time, usually by 7:30pm and sleep through until at least 7am the following morning. We nearly always get a solid nights sleep, and have no complaints. I know a lot of parents who don’t have it anywhere near as lucky as we do. Still, to have no movement in the house until about 9am on just one Sunday morning would be absolute bliss!

So whilst in the midst of Dry January, and without a single snack in sight, what does excite me at the weekend now? Well I do like to treat myself to a little caffeine buzz with a couple of energy drinks, sugar free of course, and dinner was a delicious chilli, not exactly a takeaway, but still very much Friday night food. Then there are my deliveries this week, some new clothing… courtesy of eBay of course. I don’t often buy myself new clothing, but have recently purchased a few SuperDry tops from the famous auction site. I only buy clothes that are well looked after and describe themselves as ‘hardly worn’, and in the meantime have saved myself a small fortune. A SuperDry t-shirt for £3.50 and a SuperDry hoodie for £5… yes please, I’ll take those. Sure its a little gamble, they could be terrible, they may not fit, but for the price I’ll risk it! Yes, I know theres a little charity shop somewhere that could benefit from my money if I am looking for a bargain, but I don’t get out shopping very often, so its either look online, or don’t buy anything at all. Now at least I have some clothing which looks new, feels nice and makes it look like I have spent far more than I actually have. Considering how many things are for sale on eBay, I know that there are many, many people doing the same, and probably just not owning up to it. Hey, maybe buying second hand clothes on eBay is still frowned upon a little, but so was online dating at one point, and look where that’s going now!

365 project

Day 301 – Is there anything more important than family?

jan-13
Day 301 – Jan 13th

I was feeling productive this Saturday, I had made a list of things I wanted to do, and they were realistic targets. Things needed cleaning, sorting and reorganising, and I had a weekend to tick them off my list.

However, plans do change, and things can crop up. The morning started off well, I dropped Olivia at dance class and left the wife to watch her while I took Chloe in the car to run a couple of errands. First was picking up a parcel from the sorting office, and the second was a quick trip to Streetbike to look at some cleaning products for the bike, and one of the items on my list involved making my GSX650F all clean and shiny again. I came away with cleaning products, but also a top of the range alarmed wheel lock for the motorbike. I have been reading so many countless stories of motorbike being stolen lately, a problem that is clearly on the increase. I have a good, thick, solid chain for the bike, but there isn’t always something to chain it to! At least now I will feel a little more confident leaving it unattended.

On the way home we stopped at the supermarket so the wife could jump out quickly to grab a couple of things, suddenly Olivia wants to go too, and I was NOT prepared to sit in the car with a crying Chloe who thought she was being left out… so we all went in. The kids love it, whats the harm?!

Once we were all back home, my next job involved clearing out the tops of the bedroom wardrobes and getting a bunch of stuff up into the loft. That was all swiftly ticked off. Sadly my attempt to clean the motorbike somehow turned into me actually washing the car, with Olivia rolling her sleeves up to help! The car wash all nice and shiny by the end of it, on the outside at least, and we were both rather damp. The poor motorbike didn’t even get a look in this weekend! Oh well, at least I have the cleaning stuff to do it when I have some more time next weekend.

With the girls in bed, it is time to relax in front of the tv, NOT open any snacks, and find a nice alternative alcohol-free drink to have in place of wine or beer.

365 project

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

jan-12
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 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!

365 project

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

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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!

365 project, Photography

Day 253 – Look who we’ve found!

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Day 253 – Nov 26th

No hanging around this morning, a fairly early start with a childrens soft play birthday party to kick off the day, it’s a bit of a drive over there and we’re also not 100% sure about exactly where we’re going, so we need to be out of the house on time… which can be somewhat of a tall order when you have small children!

Once we were all up, it was fairly easy getting the girls dressed and out of the house, they are quite good at being helpful if they aren’t too distracted.

Olivia enjoyed the party as there were plenty of her friends from nursery there, and Chloe just gets on with things wherever she goes!

We’d promised my younger sister we’d bring the girls over to a charity fete that afternoon as they’d been roped into help. The girls got a play a few games and meet Santa, although Chloe was having nothing to do with him, and wasn’t even going to get anywhere close to him. Olivia has really started to get Christmas now, and understands the concept of Santa fairly well, so she had no problems with talking to him.

Clare drive the girls over and I took the opportunity to meet her there on the new motorbike. I was aware that the temperature was set to drop over the next week and any frost on the road meant that I would definitely be leaving the motorbike at home and cycling to work. I also had to run a couple of errands, and having the bike meant that I could let Clare take the girls home while I went off and stopped at my other sisters and a friends house on the way back.

It was also a chance to open up the throttle a little bit on the motorway, although I didn’t have the balls to go too fast as it was already dark when I set off for home. There’s a time and a place for a bit of speed, and in the dark on a new bike isn’t either!

365 project

Day 230 – I feel like I’ve earned this!

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Day 230 – Nov 3rd

It feels like we’ve only just gone back to and yet Friday is here again already. I’m giving myself Monday and Friday to use my motorbike, so I don’t get carried away and end up not cycling and putting a load of weight back on. This makes today my motorbike day. Yayyy!

It was looking like a dry day, and the weather was fairly pleasant for the time of year, so the ride home was a rather pleasant one, especially with the roads being a little quieter for being able to get out of work a little earlier in the afternoon. 

The ride home was even more pleasant knowing that we were off to see a fireworks display this evening. The wife isn’t very keen on them, and was additionally concerned about Chloe being scared by the loud bangs, as she doesn’t do well with loud noises. I personally thought it was worth a gamble and knew Olivia would enjoy it. 

We managed to miss a lot of rush hour traffic on the way over there and even got a parking space without too much stress. Our local cricket club put on a bonfire and firework display each year, and it is always very popular, but thankfully they are thoughtful enough to put on two firework displays, an earlier one so that young children don’t miss out, and the main one about an hour later, generally when most of the young children have gone home. 

The fire itself was immense, and even though the heat stopped you from getting too close, the crowds around it were difficult to negotiate, so we didn’t spend long there. We hadn’t planned to stay too long tonight, but there was still time for the girls to go on a few of the fairground rides that had been set up, before the fireworks were due to start. 

Bedtime for the girls was a little later than usual, but they’d enjoyed it. Hopefully next year they’ll enjoy it a little bit more. 

365 project, Photography

Day 217 – My favourite bubbles are in a drink!

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Day 217 – Oct 21st

We’ve made it, the half way point through the first term of the year, and Friday marks the beginning of a week off. There is a wonderful feeling with arriving home on a Friday after work, but it feels a bit more special when its the Friday before a week off work.

A week off with the family is always lovely, a chance to spend some time together, but I am making the most of Friday night before I even think about next week!

Once the girls have been through the bath and are in bed its a chance for the wife and me to relax a little bit. We are very lucky that they both go down so well at bed time, not all parents are so lucky, Since they’ve both been born we’ve worked hard at establishing a strong bedtime routine for each of them, and the fruits of our labour are beginning to pay off now. I really do feel sorry for parents who struggle to get their little ones to sleep in the evening, I think it is so important as parents to have time when you are not parenting, when you can be yourself and relax. I consider the time that the wife and I spend together or doing our own thing once the girls are in bed as equally important as the time that we do spend with the girls while they’re awake.

Time to switch off means you can recharge your batteries and do the things you wanted to do during the day, such as playing with your phone, checking up on facebook or catching up on some photos on the computer… exactly the sort of stuff we want to try and avoid while they are awake so that we are giving them the attention they deserve.

Ironically I am writing this while the girls are up, but in my defence we’re having a bit of a slow start to the day and they are enjoying a bit of cbeebies time!

So todays photo is actually another macro shot, as I continue with my close-up theme, taken of my Jack and Coke while I enjoy a bit of Friday evening TV viewing.

365 project, Photography

Day 205 – Time flies when you’re having fun

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Day 205 – Oct 8th

Its not often you’ll find me setting an alarm on a Sunday morning, and its particularly you will see that alarm set for a ridiculous time like 5am, but today was the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix, and I always try to be up on time for it. Even though the race itself begins at 6am, I still like be up early to to put the kettle on, make myself a slice of toast and give myself time to wake up a bit while I watch the warm up coverage. Anyone with no interest or understanding of F1 would see this behaviour as nothing less than absolutely crazy… but then I can still imagine a number of F1 fans who are just thinking “It’s 5am on a Sunday morning… what on earth are you thinking??!!”.

Getting up at that hour, I was setting myself up for a long day for me today, after the race was over there was just enough time together ready to head out and meet some friends at the park before going for lunch with them. The Sun was out, and although it was October, it was still pleasant out. We took a walk, fed the ducks, and the kids took the bikes and scooters around the park before heading to the play area. We could have stayed here longer, it’s a big park, but we needed to get lunch sorted before Chloe had a meltdown for missing her lunchtime nap, she’d already turned up at the park in full on whinge mode!

Thankfully, after we left the park, she managed to at least grab a little mini nap in the car on the way to the restaurant, which wasn’t far away, and ask I sat in the car for a few minutes longer to let her sleep a bit in case that was all she got, but at some point I had to call it, I was going to brave it and try to get her from car seat to buggy without waking her. To my surprise it seemed to work initially, but inside the restaurant it seemed especially noisy and there was no keeping a light sleeper like Chloe asleep.

Still, the nap seemed sufficient for now, and we all enjoyed the afternoon, and I even treated myself to a few afternoon beers!