Top five from 2016

I have just posted my contribution to the “Your Top 5 From 2016” thread on PistonHeads.com photography forum. as with my top 5 from 2012 I thought it would make a good blog post.

 

Owen

Owen in Weymouth – this was taken, and processed on my iPhone and is the background on my phone.

 

Owen posing

Owen at home – Owen doesn’t always have his tongue out I promise! Part of the triptych I posted last week.

 

MR2 Sunday Drive

MR2 Sunday Drive – This photo just makes me want to get out and drive my MR2!

 

Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia – I only rediscovered this image whilst looking through Lightroom for my top 5 pictures. It was taken at Charlecote Park, when Jen and I hired a classic FIAT 500 for our first wedding anniversary.

 

Ryton Reflections

Ryton Reflections – I blogged about this image last week, I really loved the winter light.

2017

Happy new year! 2017 is another year with lots for me to look forward to. I am most excited about taking April and May off work to spend time with Owen – thanks to the newish shared parental leave policy in the UK. Owen should be big enough to go in a forward facing child seat, meaning he can join me in the MR2. I also plan to get a trailer or child seat for my bike, so Owen will be able to get an introduction to cycling too. Even if Owen/reality don’t share my sportscar/cycling vision for our 9 weeks together, I’m sure it will be great father/son bonding time.

We already have a couple of trips away planned for 2017 – our usual trip to Croyde, which will be our first as a little family. Jen and I are looking forward to introducing Owen to our favourite places in North Devon. Then in October, we are going to Cyprus  – which will be Owen’s first trip on an aeroplane!

The reason for our trip to Cyprus is that my best friend Partho is getting married and his fiancé is from Limassol. I will be best man at the wedding and will have my work cut out as Partho did such a good job of being my best man. Another good friend, Rich, is getting married in April, so that will be Owen’s first wedding. Two weddings also means two stag dos – I am especially looking forward to Partho’s, which I am organising.

Work is going to restart on the 119 Project, the plan is to restyle the garden and tidy up the back of the house. Hopefully this will get done whilst I am off work in the spring. I might even get phase 2 of my garage project finished…

Another task I have for 2017 is to redesign my website. I have already made a start on this and you will hopefully see some changes in the next few weeks.

This year I have got a few goals/resolutions, making them public should make them easier to meet:

  1. Get my weight under 90kg – and keep it there. Jen bought me some brilliant Withings connected scales for my birthday, so this will be easy to track. This morning I weighed 90.8kg (down from 91.6kg a few weeks ago), so I haven’t got too far to go, keeping my weight down will be the harder bit.
  2. Do a trackday at a new track in the MR2.
  3. Ride my bike at a new trail centre.
  4. Ride the full Follow The Dog and Monkey Trail loops at Cannock Chase in one ride.
  5. Get out on my bike with my camera.
  6. Make yoga a part of my weekly routine.

After seeing my 2016 cycling data infographic I’d like to clock 100 active days and get at least 1x Everest of climbing, after I missed by 5% last year – I can’t believe that some people can do as much climbing in one ride as I do in a whole year. To help with my cycling goals I am going to buy a new bike, as I’m still on the cheap bike I bought to see if I would regularly use a mountain bike – over 3,500km later I think it is safe to say it has had a lot of use.

Like the start of 2016, the weather has been rubbish today – we haven’t even left the house. We have managed to have a productive day, tidying and childproofing our front room. As Owen is going to be crawling any day soon I’ve had to pack away my surround sound system, which has speakers on little stands – perfect for little hands to pull over. I have replaced it with a Goodmans Soundbase, which sounds great considering the £75 price tag. I did manage to find time to take a silly selfie with Owen.

A look back at 2016

Owen

Despite all the bad press, 2016 has actually been a good year for me – mostly down to the arrival of Owen!

My plans for 2016 didn’t exactly go as expected, Jen and I did get to Croyde, but I didn’t get a mountain bike trip to Scotland, nor did I hire a Morgan 3 wheeler – hopefully both are on the cards for 2017!

The year started with Jen’s 12 week scan – our first chance to see Owen! Then the Autosport Show and Leisure Lakes Mountain Bike Demo Day, both of which are regular features in my calendar.

The first few weeks of April were great – a trip to Santa Pod for my first experience on the drag strip. There wasn’t much rest for the MR2 – the next weekend we took it Croyde, a last minute decision, because I wanted to use it as much as possible whilst we were still a twosome! I had brilliant drives over both Exmoor and Dartmoor, we may have been restricted on luggage space, but the decision to take the MR2 really made the holiday for me. After being thrashed up the drag strip and a 600 mile road trip; it was service time for the MR2 – because I had a trackday booked the next month and wanted the car in top shape. The weekend after getting back from Devon, I had motorsport filled weekend: I met my friend Phil and his son William at Donington Park for the BTCC; then the next day I went to the FIA WEC at Silverstone with my Dad.

May started with another weekend away in the MR2 – up to Stockport to stay with our friends Rich and Anna, then over to Bakewell, via the Cat & Fiddle pass, to meet up with Helen and Hayley for Jen’s baby shower. The highlight of May was the track day at Donington Park – my first wet trackday, I had a fun lap following an Austin A35 race car. It dried off in the afternoon and I really felt like I was faster than my previous Donington track day. May was also the start of ante natal classes – things were starting to feel very real!

We didn’t get to our last ante natal class, as Owen arrived on the 6th of June, about 6 weeks early. This was a bit of a shock to us – we hadn’t finished decorating the hall, stairs and landing, let alone started on getting ready for our new arrival! He spent a few weeks at hospital, which felt horrible at the time – we just wanted to get him home, but looking back on his time there, we learned a hell of a lot from the nurses and I think we coped well when we eventually got Owen home! The rest of the year was dominated by Owen; watching him grow and develop into the cheeky little boy he is today – the last few days he seems to be sticking his tongue out at everybody! We have taken him on trips away to Church Stretton – with my family and Weymouth – our first holiday for our little family, where the photo at the top of this post was taken. Owen is the star attraction wherever he goes – especially since learning to smile, which he does a lot!

To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, Jen and I hired a classic Fiat 500 and spent the day touring the Cotswolds, whilst Owen enjoyed some time with his grandparents. In October a got the MR2 on track again, this time at Silverstone – once more I felt like my driving had improved since my previous visit to the circuit. The MR2 also made it into the Pistonheads Carpool in December and I seem to enjoy it more each time I drive it.

On my bike, I was never going to beat my 2,015km in 2015, in the end I only clocked 1,281km in 2016 – about the distance from home to Barcelona. The highlight of which was conquering my nemesis – “Cardiac Hill” at Cannock Chase. Annoyingly, I was 64km short of my friend Partho’s 2016 total – although he did need to ride all the way to Paris to beat me!

Owen is tucked up in bed, and we have a few friends coming round to see in 2017 with us (quietly), so I wish everyone reading a happy new year!

2016

Happy new year!

2016 has started quietly, we saw in the new year with our friends in York, then on the way back to Coventry visited some other friends in Sheffield for lunch and a stroll in the park. The weather was rubbish all day, so disappointingly I didn’t get to take a photo for this blog post. Hopefully this isn’t a sign for the rest of 2016.

After a really busy 2015 I don’t really have any firm plans for 2016. Jen and I don’t have any gigs of holidays planned for the first time since 2010. Most unlike us. Some possibilities which have been suggested are hiring a Morgan 3 Wheeler for a day with my Dad, a Scottish mountain biking trip with Ali and I’m sure Jen and I will find ourselves in Croyde at some point. I’m looking forward to finding out what adventures 2016 has in store.

A look back at 2015

Signing the register

©Richard Long 2015

2015 has been a great year – possibly the best yet!

January and February were fairly quiet, I think we were mostly planning the wedding, which was a good move as from March things started getting a lot busier! Starting with my first trackday of the year on the Silverstone National Circuit, then the Leisure Lakes Demo Day at Cannock Chase, where I got to try some expensive bikes. We also went to London to see Frank Turner at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust’s series of gigs – a great gig in an amazing venue, all for a worthy cause.

In April we went on our first road trip of the year – to Scotland in the MR2, also calling in at Scarborough and York on the way home. In May we started the redecoration of our front bedroom, the aim being to have it ready for us to move into after the wedding. We also went to Prescott Hillclimb to see the La Vie en Bleu French themed event.

June and July were both busy, in June I only had one weekend at home for DIY with a day out to Matlock Bath to meet our friends from York, my little brother’s stag do in London, then a weekend mountain biking in Wales, which was allegedly my stag do, but thanks to my best man Partho turned into a Welsh A&E tour. After the madness of Wales with the lads a relaxing long weekend in Croyde with Jen was just what was needed. The next weekend we went to a wedding, then the weekend after I flew to Japan. After a mammoth 42 hour journey home the weekend after and a trackday at Donington Park (which I really should have blogged about) it was already August!

August started with a Segwaying adventure for my friend Richard’s birthday (Richard took the photo at the top of this post). Also in August was Jen’s hen do, I took this opportunity to go mountain biking at the Forest of Dean with Jen’s cousin Richard. At the end of the month we were back up to Scotland for my little brother’s wedding – I was best man, so no pressure there! It was also the first time I got to wear my kilt and good practice for the main event in September!

Of course the highlight of the year was marrying Jen, having all our family and close friends there to share the day with us made it even more special. We are still humbled by all the kind messages and gifts we received from everyone. After the wedding comes the honeymoon – in our case a California road trip, a trip we had been talking about since we first got together in 2010. The trip was all we expected and more – I’ve still got the last few photos to sort out, but will be updating the blog posts in the next few weeks, as they were quickly posted whilst we were there.

Since getting back from California the last few months have flown by, I did another trackday at Silverstone, with Jen driving a session too, actually getting more laps in than I did. I got out on my snowboard a few times, bought a sensible car, spent my birthday weekend in London and completed my 2,015km in 2015 mountain biking challenge. We are going to see out 2015 with our friends in York.

Thanks to everyone who made 2015 such a special year!

BMW 120i

BMW 120i

Now that I’m a married man I thought it was the right time in my life to buy a sensible car – don’t worry, the MR2 isn’t going anywhere – it is safely tucked up in the garage and will still be used regularly.

The main reason for buying the BMW is that I can put my mountain bike in the back, allowing me to explore more exciting terrain than I can cycle to from Coventry. It also has the benefit of not needing to use Jen’s 500 as much, which I’m sure helped with Jen getting on board with this scheme.

I chose a BMW as the roads around the best mountain biking terrain are good for driving too – think Scotland and North Wales, I’m still a car guy and driving those roads in a boring car would really get to me. After driving grey cars for the last 10 years I was happy to find a suitable car in a bright colour – especially as everybody knows that red cars are faster…

2015

Cycling selfie with Jen

2015 is going to be a big year for Jen and I – we’ll be getting married! We saw in the new year with our best friends, Partho & Jo, who will be best man and bridesmaid at the wedding – a perfect start to the year!

Getting married also means we’ll be going on honeymoon, the plans are a lot more advanced than those for the wedding. We will be going on a San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas roadtrip! Although we really need to get the wedding organised before we can book anything.

Other than getting married, we still have a lot of work to do on the house and phase two of the garage (insulation and flooring). I also want to do some track days in the MR2.

I’m going to continue mountain biking and my aim for the year is to ride 2,015km, I got out for a short ride with Jen this afternoon, so I’ve only got 2,004 to go!

A look back at 2014

2014 is another year which has flown by in a whirl of roadtrips, travel and DIY. Things didn’t quite go as per the 2014 plans I blogged about on the first of January – work got in the way out our European roadtrip and the dining room didn’t get finished until about the twenty third of December.

As is becoming common, the year started with a trip to Autosport International, this year was even better than usual as it was combined with a Pistonheads Sunday Service, which added an extra dimension to it. Later in January I also had my first visit to Race Retro, another local motorsport show.

March was the start of my travels, with an ace roadtrip to North Wales and Chester in the MR2, then the first of my trips to Japan for work. The Pistonheads Sunday Service at Morgan Cars was my favourite of the year, even if a puncture the previous day meant that I turned up in Jen’s Fiat 500. I enjoyed the tour so much I took my Dad back on his 60th birthday.

May was the start of our big DIY project for the year – building my garage! Which continued for most of the summer, with distractions for Coventry Motofest, Le Mans (which I didn’t get around to blogging about) and a trip to Copenhagen with Jen.

In September I went back to Japan for business, but more importantly I spent a week in Croyde with Jen and asked her to marry me! Fortunately she said yes!

The last three months of the year were spent renovating the dining room, as we were hosting Christmas dinner for my family and enjoying my new hobby – mountain biking! The latter of which is why this post was written whilst waiting at Walsgrave hospital A&E department, thankfully due to a dog bite, rather than any failed extreme manoeuvres on my part.

Mountain Biking

It was muddier in the woods than I expected today!

In my last garage blog post I hinted about a new toy that would live in the garage – here it is! I’ve finally bought a mountain bike after wanting one for years, but having anywhere to keep it.

So far I’ve only ridden from home, exploring the woods and paths to the south and west of Coventry, but I have already covered almost 150km on it. I have been surprised at just how much off road riding I can do from the middle of Coventry. At the moment the woods are quite muddy, but exploring them gives me the same buzz as exploring a mountain did on my snowboard – which is great as I can get out on my bike all year and I don’t even need to leave Coventry!

Once the weather and my fitness have improved I’ll venture further afield, with my camera too, so there should be some more mountain biking posts on the blog at some point.

I have been using the Strava app to track my rides and also discover new routes, this has added an extra geeky element to cycling, which is perfect of me! You may have seen all the Strava posts on my Twitter, if not you can also see where I’ve been on their website or follow me if you also use Strava.

2014

Rainy selfie
Happy new year!

My 2014 has started off quietly, with bacon sandwiches, a wet drive out in the MR2 to Stratford, homemade Tartes Flambees and the new episode of Sherlock. Even though I had my camera with me most of the day, the rainy selfie above is the only picture I took – here’s hoping for better weather the rest of the year!

The rest of 2014 is already looking really busy, especially with work on the 119 project, before September we need to finish the living room, build my dream garage and completely refurbish the dining room. If you are interested,the best place to see how it is progressing is on my 119 project set on Flickr.

Aside from DIY I’ve got some exciting projects at work, but even more exciting that that Jen and I have got a two week European roadtrip planned, well, we know we’ll include the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, but have got a lot more work to do before we set of in May! As if one European roadtrip isn’t enough I will also be taking the MR2 to Le Mans in June for the 24 hour race with my Dad. Maybe I should have bought a more sensible car last year… In its defence, the MR2 should be perfect for my other 2014 goal – getting back into track days, although I think I will have to wait until the second half of the year for that.

My resolution for 2014 is to try to blog more, I’ve got plenty of photos left to sort out from 2013 and amongst all the work and DIY I’m sure I will manage to fit in some adventures, a guy has to prioritise, right?