Aoife & Ryans Engagement shoot

I love engagement sessions, especially when they are close to the wedding (mainly because the conversations are fresh in my head).  It gives me an opportunity to spend a bit of time with the couple, with no pressure and it is always surprising what comes out of these sessions (apart from the amazing photos I take……. obviously)……….. I get to understand how the couple work, how much time they want to spend on their photos (grooms it is ok to be honest, but please accept that ‘5 mins’ will NOT get you an album, or a happy start to wedded bliss)………………But I also get to hear all the funny family/friend anecdotes, which help me to fit in with the day (who am I kidding, I can fit in anywhere, but it is nice to put a face to a funny story).

In Ryan and Aoifes case, it also got them some beautiful memorable photos with their adorable (but totally barmy) pup………….. These sessions can take anywhere from 15-60 mins, (not that im sexist but most men AND dogs get very bored after 5 mins) but they are definetly worth considering.

A quick 15 min session, can get you a beautiful momento that can be used on your wedding day, or kept as a memory.  It is also a great opportunity for nervous couples to relax in front of the camera. All in all they are a win win, and can easily be added to your wedding package.

CONFESSIONS OF A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

I am many (many) things, some good, some not so hot….. But I am honest.  So I am embracing my honesty and owning up to a recent cock up………… Lets just call it a……………A LESSON LEARNT…….

So, being the brain surgeon that I am (I am 8 episodes into ‘Greys anatomy’ so that counts). I understand the human brain very well…………. But my brain works a bit differently to others, there are essentially only two components to my simple brain…………………..

A) THE COCKY LITTLE ACORN (CLA) – This is the part of my brain, that tells me, I am amazing, the best on the earth and I am capable of anything.   This part of my brain, has proven in the past to be very dangerous when mixed with alcohol and has lead me to do many foolish things, (but, thats for another blog……….)

B) BRANCH OF DOUBT (BOD)– This part of my brain, is the one, that tells me I am  useless, it makes me question every decision I make. It is essentially like an Irish mother, a running commentary in the background of my thoughts “it’ll all go tits up”, “wait ’til the neighbours hear what you’ve done” and of course the fateful “I told you so”…………………….

These two components of the brain, are constantly at war. The following, is an actual excerpt of what happened in my brain a few months ago. I had a small 2 hour wedding coverage and about 8 shoots in the studio, so rather than turn down the studio sessions, my assistant covered them, while I covered the local wedding.

SAT MORNING 5AM

CLA – Ye ha its only 5am, go back to sleep you amazingly wonderful person. You are set to do great things today. Aren’t you lucky, you don’t suffer from this thing they call ‘anxiety?’, sure close your eyes and go back to sleep, sure, you look like sleeping beauty when you sleep….. Go on ya good thing.

BOD – Thank goodness, but I really hope I don’t sleep in…. An extra 90 mins would be great

(What happened during this 90 mins of sleep was the worst ‘wedding mare’ I have ever had……..  For those of you not familiar with the term “wedding mare”, it is a nightmare that most (good) wedding photographers have at some point in their professional career. It normally ends in tears and leaves you traumatised for days.  So meanwhile, back at my ‘wedding mare’………………….I turned up at the venue (in my pyjamas, with no shoes, and my hair in pink pigtails). I went to start shooting and realised I had no camera, or camera bag, so I started to use my Iphone. I didn’t know the groom, but he was a mean mofo who didn’t like me (at all), and if all that wasn’t enough it turned out that I was supposed to be shooting two weddings at the same time….. in the same venue!!!!!

90 minutes later, the sound of my alarm, pulled me out of this pyjama induced hell. The sweat was pouring of me, my heart was thumping like a barn door on a windy night, and my mind was a mixture of relief that it was a dream and impending doom).

On the drive to the wedding………….

BOD – Phew, that dream was some craic, what if something like that happens, what if this is the wrong location? What if the wedding was an hour ago? What if I haven’t put memory cards in my camera?

CLA – Wise up ya twat, sure aren’t you the best photographer in the land?, sure didn’t you set up the studio, test the lights, you even typed up a timetable and a list for your assistant. You are amazing, and sure haven’t ya two cameras? Not to mention your endless banter, chat and don’t get me started on how good you look in those pyjamas……. ha ha, im only joking, you look shit hot in those trousers. Now get out of the car and give the world your greatness.

BOD – Ok, smile at everyone, wave, introduce yourself, is that the groom? No maybe it’s his brother and he thinks you’re a total twat now, do you kiss or shake hands? If you kiss him, he might think you’re flirting, if you shake his hand, you might miss and remember what happened at the last wedding? That was so NOT where you meant to put your hand. Is everyone looking at you? they all think that you are a shite photographer? You are a shite photographer, what the hell are you doing here, run, ya big crazy ba%tard.

CLA – Stop talking pure dung, you are David Bailey, you are on fire bitch…. Now get that camera out, and get shooting these lucky, lucky people. Sure look at you, going up in the world, with your two Sony bodies and your 70-200? (technical speak for cool gear), you have made it my friend. That’s it, out you go, breathe and start shooting, sure look? your first photo is an award winner and its only of the grass. Ah oh, your battery says 3%, sure isnt it just as well you have another one, in the camera body, just slide it on in, and strut your stuff. Oh dear………. this battery says 20%…….. Houston we have a problem.

BOD– You stupid fu^kwit, what were you thinking?, why did you even get out of bed? Just double check that you have shoes on ya big tit…… what are you going to do? You have 20% battery in the camera, 20%????!!!!!!, wait…… you have only started using Sony, you don’t even know what 20% means. I know, run, just run…………….how did this happen? We charged both batteries last night!!

CLA – OK lets calm down here, text your husband get him to drive like Mario and get him to bring the charger…………. tell him to leave it under your car in the car park, and you, my friend, smile, act casual and ‘pretend’ to take photos…….. don’t check your photos as, well……, why would you? You are the greatest, (and you might just waste more battery)……This is nothing but a story for this evening. Look at you, out there smiling like a chesire cat, lesser mortals would have the pi$$ running out of them.

BOD – I am going to die, I am actually going to die, I cant breathe, I think I am going to wet myself, think, think, think…………. ok, should I ‘pretend’ to have a heart attack and hope that the defib will charge the battery? Should I come clean?, tell them I am a useless waste of life and ask them if they would like to throw me in the river? I have to tell someone, oh, I think that could be my third heart attack right there.

CLA– ‘Tell someone?’ what sort of a woose are you? Just wait on the perfect shot, then pretend to take photos, go round take photos of details, sure you can add them later, when your charger comes. Ach, look, sure there is the service starting and everyone is looking at you, like you are wonderful, two shots coming down the aisle, perfect, sure isn’t it lovely that the service is outside?, and don’t you look amazing? Sure no one is looking at the bride, that’s it, keep shooting, aye sure get down on your knees, they will all think you’re wonderful, creative and so god damn cool.

BOD – Sh!t, mc sh!t, everyone knows, they all know… I am the worst photographer ever……. how am I going to get the charger from the car park? I know, I will pretend to take a shot from far away and run like Mo Farah to the car, stick it up my jumper and back to the service. I am never going to carry this off, what am I doing? Oh!….. and theres the 4th heart attack….. and a bit of pee…………………….

CLA – That’s it you little gem, sure no one notices the charger up your shirt, they will all be wearing the chargers like this next week……. look how fast you can run, you really must sign yourself up for a triathalon, you could win it…….. now to find a socket, sure shove that singer out of the way and just you hook up that charger, you got this……. and that sweat dripping off your nose??? sure it is only highlighting your eyes…….

BOD – What happens if it’s the charger that’s faulty? Why did I leave those spare batteries in a shopping basket on an amazon website??? Why did I not read the 100,000 page manual that came with the camera?, and why, oh why, did I not check the batteries before I left the office?………Big, fat, ugly, sweaty, cant-run.. Dipstick, you are so applying for McDonalds after this, in fact, no…… McDonalds wouldn’t have you.

CLA – Now, now sure you know you could RUN McDonalds if you wanted and sure look at you, you big mad entreprenuer, sure you have someone shooting for you in the studio, while you go out and make the big bucks at the wedding, maybe you should phone Lord Sugar and offer some sound business advice?……… now off you go and take more of those amazing photos you can take in your sleep………

BOD – Right, the charger, is working, you are in the clear for now, but you are useless, you must never be allowed near another wedding. Now don’t even think of going near the cake, you’ll probably fall into it………. Just dream of getting home and filling the bath full of vodka.

CLA – Look at you riding that little storm, sure look how strong it has made you? Why would you need spare batteries when you have such wit, charm and a super quick thinking brain? Now off you go and charm those mere mortals………… shoot like the legend you are, I am sure there is a millionaire out there, who wants to fly you first class to Vegas for some family photos……. Oh no, its just Uncle Bob wondering if you have a battery charger………………

TEENAGERS!!!!

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We are currently in the midst of attempting to steer two teenage boys through life and appear to be making a total cock up. No matter how long you breastfed them, how organic your home cooked meals were or how many times you read the gruffalo you will invariably become public enemy no 1 to Chucky.

The thought of steering the other three through this hell jungle has got me thinking. Why not just cut the crap and give them a “guide” on how to act. Now my experience has, thus far been with boys (I imagine I will be parenting the girl from a mental institution).

So here goes:

In order to become a successful teenager you must plan your entry with military precision. The transformation must happen overnight. Be sure to lull those oldies into a false sense of security by being a model child, make them think they have made it. But all the while, train like an SAS recruit and then pick your time with precision. This chrysalis should be at a time when they feel they are safe and relaxed, like on holiday.

Practice these basic steps and you will have them bald and on a slow drip fed of Valium in no time.

  1. LANGUAGE– You speak a new language now, which consists of grunts and farts. Eye contact is a thing of the past and it is essential that the oldies say “what??” at least three times per sentence. Oh, and every sentence finishes with “dude”……
  2. SPEED – Is a thing of the past, everything must be taken at a snails pace (unless you’re scoffing pot noodle). Double your time in the bathroom, in bed and getting out any door. To get a feel for your new pace,slouch your shoulders and trail your feet…… Now you’re working it bro.
  3. YOUR ASS– A very important part of your new life, reveal it at all times, with low (and I mean really low) hanging jeans. The ass is also the place where everything must be left, clothes, dishes, homework and most importantly, sports kit.
  4. YOUR SIBLINGS – Public enemy no 2 bro, ditch those dudes ASAP. At every available opportunity wind them up, punch them when they least expect it. Always strike at inappropriate times, restaurants, bedtime, anytime you see the oldies getting nervous or tired. Chinese burns and dead legs are a must.
  5. FOOD– Home cooked meals are a thing of the past. It’s Mickey D’s, super noodles, and frozen pizza (with lots of packaging) from here on. It’s always best to wait until a home cooked meal has been set in front of you before launching your attack. It goes without saying that food should always be eaten in your room and storing utensils under your bed is practically putting them in the dishwasher!!!
  6. YOUR BEDROOM – Is your training camp and where you must spend at least 80% of your day. NEVER let any oldie or sibling in there and scream like a girl if anyone steps within a 1 metre radius. This is where you train, this is your secret haven. Your bedroom floor is magic, it dries towels, it removes clothes and can hide an entire Jamie Oliver dining set for weeks on end.
  7.  YOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICE– Must never leave your side. Make sure you get them really suspicious by replacing your friend’s name in your contact list to “drug dealer 1”. Your mum is also guaranteed to think you’re talking to her when you are playing Fifa with some pervert from Brazil. She will babble away to you before she realises the pervert can see her crazy hair and pjs. Only at this point are you allowed to make eye contact and scream at her for being human. Watch her scratch her head, retreat from the room and have a long discussion with dad. No oldie is gonna sleep tonight dude.

Finally, remember you are king of the house and challenge anyone who says anything different. You know everything and adults??? Pha…..they were never teenagers, they were born 30. Inflict your new found knowledge of everything at every available opportunity and only withdraw if:

A) You sense a heart attack or nervous breakdown
B) You find yourself being physically removed from your home by a crazed oldie who has threatened to leave you naked in the street
C) they start to push drug leaflets under your door
D) either one of your parents start drinking wine with their breakfast….. You’ve gone too far.

Good luck bros…………………

DOING YOUR ACCOUNTS

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Its that time of year again, when I must face up to reality, I’m fat, addicted to wine and I will do ANYTHING to avoid doing my accounts.  I have carried them round all month, like a precious little baby, I bring them everywhere, to the school gates, to the shops and even to the pub!!! I place them ever so gently down beside me and just when I am about to start, something happens, so far this month:

I have spoken to every parent, child and dog at the school gates, I have got on first name terms with strangers in the cafe and all of a sudden,   I really do want to know EVERY ingredient in my muffin (and where the coffee originated from/how long the cafe has been open and hell yes, tell me all about your divorce).  But after being barred from a number of establishments (It appears my marital advice was not welcome) I have decided to sit down at home and do them……… and guess what?? I AM WRITING THIS BLOG!!!!

On the plus side, my house and office have never been cleaner and so far this month, I have done the following……………..

  1. Offered to put away all the christmas decorations (alphabetically and chronologically colour coded)
  2. Kids homework’s – No more, putting the pencil in my left hand while drinking a glass of wine at 11 at night.  No sir, not for me, I have corrected more spellings, read more books and even coloured in with my children this month, than I have in my entire mummy life.
  3. Lunches – It’s home made bread, fresh fruit smoothies and home made buns which greet my children every day at lunchtime.  I am cooking up a storm in the kitchen and the longer the recipe, the more excited I get, anything to keep me away from my desk. Don’t like your dinner? no problem, I’ll make another one (I am so gonna suffer next month)
  4. Cleaned my shower with a toothbrush- You know those gritty little bits of dirt that get lodged in the corner of your shower? well they are all gone……… I have a bathroom Kim and Aggie would be proud of.  Come to think of it, the tiles might need re grouted………………..
  5. Ironed – I have never ironed as much in my life.  Tea towels, dish clothes, even the dogs lead….. All need to be done, very important. Might even take all the socks from the drawers and iron them.
  6. Alphabetically labelled my medicine cabinet – Everything is where it should be and after all January is the time of year for colds and flu.
  7. Colour coded my knicker drawer – The only time of year my underwear matches
  8. Tried to learn how to knit (lasted an hour),  speak spanish (half an hour), I have even watched a you tube tutorial on drones (WTF????)
  9. Got myself on ebays most wanted buyers list, I have purchased everything from a broken bowl (99p) to a manual for the drone (got to 2nd page)
  10. Played hide and seek with the kids………any kid (apparently Im not welcome back at the park)

But what can I do?, I am a self confessed account dodger.  I am sure it should be a recognised disease and they should have loads of workshops (in January) to help you through it.  But as they say owning up is the first step to recovery, the second???? I am sure it is having the cleanest house in the neighbourhood……………………….

A GOOD OLD FESTIVE GIRLS NIGHT OUT

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So the festive season is about to come and hit us over the head with a  bauble and with it comes all the normal stresses.  What to buy, what to wear, how to lose a stone in a day, and how to look great on the all important “GNO” (girls night out).

EVERY woman needs a good old girls night out.  They should be given free on the NHS to help us poor downtrodden women to deal with life, don’t worry about cutting the tax on tampons just give the girls a monthly dose of G&Ts with her besties and the world will be a safer place for all.

But do you ever notice, that you need certain “characters” to make the girls night complete?  You need……

LITTLE MISS ORGANISED – No one is going anywhere without this little organised dynamo.  She will gather nos, phone the restaurants and make sure the night gets off to a cracking start.  She will have a spreadsheet, with who has paid what, a time sheet for drinks and she will do a headcount at every bar.  This woman never shys away from having the kitty, ordering drinks and phoning taxis.  She will also have tissues for the unorganised piss stops, hair bands to hold your hair while you puke and even a plaster in case you bang your head on the wall………….again.  We Love and need Little Miss Organiser.

LITTLE MISS RACER – Also known as the “one bar wonder”, she is first at the restaurant, first to order a drink and first to grab the waiters ass before you have started your main course.  Be wary of this lady, because she is gonna knock back 2 litres of pinot grigio before you have taken your coat off and before you know it she will be dribbling incoherently and telling you she loves you.  Its is always handy to have a wheelbarrow on standby for this little beast, then all you need to do is wheel her to the next bar, where she will sober up enough to contribute to the kitty before falling asleep again and thats when she comes in useful. No need to pay expensive cloakroom charges, simply put this little lady in the corner, cover her in coats and handbags and stick your iPhones in her bra and if she was really abusive earlier, just draw on her. (don’t worry Little Miss Organised will have a pen)

LITTLE MISS MOANER – Oh dear, nothing is ever right for Little Miss Moaner.  She will change the date at least three times, complain that she didn’t get enough ice in her drink and fall out with the barman/waiter/dj/taximan.  You will ask yourself why she was even invited and just when you are about to ditch her, you will look round and find her on stage/in the dj box or trying to get into the mens toilets, she will do something that is so hilarious you remember why she is part of the gang.

LITTLE MISS HYPER – She starts off quiet but as the night goes on she livens up and by the time you end up at the nightclub, this bitch is buzzing.  She will hit the dance floor (podium or pole) and dance the night away while simultaneously downing shots and having the time of her life.  She is funny to watch and so much fun to be with, but don’t get too close, because when the lights go down this little duracell bunny is looking for more.  Oh yes, she’s the one that wants the kebab, the one that thinks that hedge diving should be an olympic sport. But woe betide any of you sistas, who want to sleep, because this little bunny will keep going until 6am, please also be warned that this girl can lead you into a) a strange crowd b) a bus to bangor c) a prison cell.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

LITTE MISS RECORDER – Be wary of this girl, because she remembers EVERYTHING, and before you even have a chance to wipe the 2am kebab sauce from your chin, this little twat will have you tagged in 79 posts and photos  to prove that you “can’t actually do the splits”, (but trying it on the dance floor was a great idea). This little journalist will be first up the next morning  whatsapping the finer details of the night and asking you why you ended up in your neighbours hedge with your kebab.  She will remember everything and she aint gonna let you forget it.

LITTLE MISS MOTHER EARTH – She shall grace you with her presence about once a year, she will only have stopped breast feeding her five year old that evening and will want to discuss everything about home schooling, baking carb free bread and your general misdemeanours as a mother.  Do NOT sit  beside mother earth for at least on hour, once she gets onto her fourth drink and starts leaking breastmilk on the dance floor, she will be much better craic.

LITTLE MISS ROUND SKIPPER – She will donate exactly £7.53 to the restaurant fund, having not had any bread or starter.  She will then hump at the price of the kitty and refuse to give anyone more than one tonic per double gin.  Her beady little eyes will count every drink and she will drink hers through a straw, so she can get drunk on precisely £5.53 .  Keep a close eye on this blade as she is often seen “going to the toilet” when it is her round. But be smart and follow her to the loo, because she is the aladdins cave of hidden necessities.  She will always have toilet roll hidden, an emergency fiver to get home, and if you’re lucky the £2 she saved at the bar, will help with the super chip on the way home.

LITTLE MISS STRANGER – You meet her in tescos (other shops are available), she looks so sad, you feel so sorry for her, so you ask if she would like to come out with you and your girlfriends.  BIG MISTAKE, by midnight this little gremlin will reveal her true colours.  She will thank you all endlessly for inviting her, before crying about her ex husband who left her for a 20 year old lap dancer.  She will use ALL the tissues to dry her tears and leave you mentally tortured (with no loo roll). She will locate her ex at the bar and tell him all about her “new” friends before head butting the lap dancer and getting you all thrown out. NOW you know why she has no friends.

LITTLE MISS PERFECT- She always knows the right things to say, her dress sense is impeccable (and always a size 8), her lipstick never smudges and she never steps in dog dirt.  But every once in a while Little Miss Perfect will fall from her perfect pink pedestal and it will be worth the wait, the lipstick will smudge she will puke into her Michael Kors handbag and just when you think you’re night is complete she will try and snog the taxi man on the way home. You know it is wrong to laugh but the visions of her trying to leave the bar on invisible roller skates will stay with you for a long time.

LITTLE MISS STORY TELLER – This girl never lets the truth get in the way of a good story.  Every tale she tells will have you hooked on every word.  She is like a drug you can’t get enough of………… Until 3am when the stories start to slow, the glazed look appears and she “can’t quite remember what she was saying”.  Little Miss Story Teller is often seen with a fag in hand and her eyes will close as she remembers every detail of what you got up to with her husband at summer camp 1990.  She loves to reminisce and will think nothing of cycling home on your sons bike at 4am “just for the craic”.

So which one are you??? or are you a bit of both.  I know which one I am…………………….

Happy Girls night out xxx

 

 

The joys of Decorating……

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So, It’s New years eve, I am already getting bored at the thought of endless months of nothingness.  So I make the suggestion of renovating the house, sure why would you not? we could have a bigger kitchen, a room to lock our teenager in (did I just say that??), more storage space, and all this for a few months of upheaval.  Sure go ahead………….NO…………NO…………..NO.

Fast forward 18 months, the planning permission is through, the plans are sorted, the excitement is building and we are ready to go. It was June, the kids were just finished school and we were all excited at the thought of camping in the garden, eating under the stars and barbecuing all summer long.

Fast forward four months, the house is still a wreck, our garden is now a bathroom ( there is actually a bath and toilet IN the garden), I can’t find kids most mornings, never mind clothes and shoes, and as for the %^&king barbecue, well I never want to see it again.

The joys of being awoke by a wonderful view and the sound of the birds singing, has now been replaced by a builders bum and the sweet song of a kongo hammer.  The harsh realities have finally dawned, and here are a few things I wish people had told me.

THE DUST – Its EVERYWHERE, up your nose, in your cupboard, it even follows you out of the house…. I took the kids to school the other day and while all the other kids were sitting in their lovely new school uniforms, in walked the willys, work boots, dust,  helmets and spirit levels.

DINING – What can I say?? its been hell.  My beautiful living room units now hold weetabix, crunchy nut and rice crispies, the staple diet for summer 15.  Throw in a few plastic spoons and call it a dinner party.  On the plus side, I am beginning to enjoy wine from a  plastic barbie tumbler, crystal is so overrated.

SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS – Well that’s simple, you sleep where you fall, be it the sofa, the floor, or even the toilet (not the one in the garden).  Rather than expose my lovely clean quilts to the dust, we all took to our sleeping bags for a few months, ah what fun….. NOT.  The fear of trying to wake a sodden child while thinking “please be sweat” (my washing machine is on the verge of a nervous breakdown) will stay with me forever.

CLEANLINESS – My children have not been bathed for three months (showers don’t count) and other than taking them to the swimming pool, we are totally stuck.  Even when they do get washed, the dust sticks to them before they are dried.  Housework is limited and there is only so much hoovering of dust a person (and a hoover) can take. As for the dishes, I often have to take them out to the “bath” to wash them (The neighbours are starting to stare and a few “for sale” signs have appeared)

JUNK -We have so much of it (it is unbelievable how much crap one can gather over nine years) my kids are also at an age were “possession is everything” headless dolls are a necessity and broken guns a fashion statement.  I have now resorted to “dumping” in the middle of the night and have even gone to the extent of “pretending” to look for the headless frozen doll (I was very convincing).

NEIGHBOURS – I always knew my neighbours were pretty cool, they smile politely when the kids hit tennis balls, golf balls and on the odd occasion each other, over their walls.  But I am not so sure how they feel after witnessing me unload endless bags of rubbish into the bath in the garden at 2 in the morning (great hiding place until the neighbours bins go out and then you can race round and throw in all the headless dolls and blame the neighbours!!). They have also witnessed the “sleeping bag olympics” (they were bored, there was no playstation……… or electric).  Is it any wonder there are five houses for sale on our street?

But with every cloud and all that, there have been some advantages

  • My kids have become very adaptable and can eat with chopsticks (well their fingers but it’s still a talent)
  • 3 Weetabix is now considered a “meal”
  • No ‘playdates’ (no decent parent would send their child to a building site) what can I say?, I am devastated…. not!!!!!
  • I am no longer considered ‘fussy’ (my kitchen guy called and asked what colour of doors I would like and I told him I would take anything he had, as long as he could fit it that week, I must say the purple doors are quite a conversation starter!!)
  • After our team of builders witnessed the following, I feel I will never feel embarrassed again a) a full scale domestic over the lay out of the kitchen (of course I won!!!) b) someone may have farted early one morning thinking there was no one about c) shamelessy chasing a child with a wooden spoon (bad daddy)

We are coming to the end of our house renovations and it is beginning to take shape, but now that it looks like everyone in the neighbourhood is moving out, we might just buy somewhere new………………..