Hard Times

Whenever I have a few days in a row of feeling I good, I think this is it, I’ve cracked it! I’m going to hold on to this feeling and NOTHING is going to stop me. Then I feel bad again, and I can almost believe I brought it on myself. Shouldn’t have had a nice thought, should I, I was obviously asking to feel bad. I started to wonder if I’m stuck in some neverending cycle… well I’m stuck in a cycle alright, but I’ve likely got a good decade yet before I’m able to be free of it.

Having periods suck. I’ve always struggled around that time, and thought it was just normal and that I was weak for feeling dreadful at least two weeks out of every four. But then as things like this get talked about more on social media, it seems that what I’ve been going through since puberty is not a universal experience. Every single GP I’ve ever seen has shrugged it off, but it’s not normal.

I get by though. Well, usually. As time goes on it gets harder and harder to cope with it, and it’s all mixed up with other issues I have. Basically right now I don’t know my arse from my elbow, and I am not ok with that. I feel like I’m drowning. One thing I know is that things are usually quite bad for me, but once a month, it’s infinitely worse. I also know something has to change because I cannot go on like this.

There’s also past things to deal with. I’ve always been someone who struggled with regulating emotions, then after a bad five-year relationship I hardened a lot (read: turned into a cold-hearted bitch). I opened up later, got hurt more than ever, hardened again, then just recently I started to really feel things again. All well and good until something bad came along and I couldn’t deal with it. Feeling things means feeling all the things. I forgot about that part.

This started off with someone being a bit mean to me at work, which resulted in me absolutely spiraling… like, crying in the toilets and completely unable to stop myself. I just had to wait for it to pass. Absolutely absurd. The person in particular was mean because I was basically doing my job too much, which would normally have me telling said person where to go, but it turned into a paranoid week of ‘absolutely everyone I’ve ever known and loved secretly hates me’.

Then little Newty got sick. He’s OK now but there were a few days there where we really weren’t sure if he was going to make it. At that point I just… shut down.

I was worried sick about that doggo, who thankfully is recovering nicely and well on his way to being his old self, but it was just one thing too much and I couldn’t handle it. After we knew he was going to be ok, I thought I’d go back to ‘normal’ myself, but since then things have been… weird.

I have even less energy than usual, concentrating on anything has been virtually impossible, I’m clumsy (I even fell over the other day) and if I’m trying to think (as in, I’m trying to concentrate on not totally losing my mind) I need COMPLETE AND UTTER SILENCE otherwise I feel an almost uncontrollable rage. It’s like I need to use all of my energy on staying in existence. On top of that, things don’t exactly feel real right now, or maybe I don’t feel like I’m real, not sure which, which may well be dissociation.

Not that a medical professional could enlighten me, because when I finally got an appointment with a ‘mental health practitioner’ she asked me if I’d tried PrActicING MindFuLNesS. Yes, sure, after thirty years of mental illness, I’m calling you because I’m at breaking point, I’ve just spent 40 minutes on the phone to you telling you about all of my issues and that’s what you suggest. I asked to be signed off work while I’m feeling spaced out because it’s really not safe to drive a forklift truck when you aren’t sure if you’re a person or not, and her response? Well, you really should have asked for a note a week ago, you’ve left it a bit late.

Except… I DID ASK FOR ONE A WEEK AGO AND THEY TOLD ME I HAD TO HAVE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOU FIRST. THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS WE ARE SPEAKING NOW.

Response? ‘Oh’.

This is why I never try asking for help. This is the ‘help’ you get.

But I’m at the stage where I can’t not ask for help, and I know it’s going to take a fight to get it. I’m so tired though, I don’t want to fight!

Aaaanyway. I have booked a face-to-face doctor’s appointment, and I only have to wait a month for that. During that time, on my good days, I’m going to be researching to get all the information on the things that are most likely wrong with me, and when I see the doctor I am not going to let him dismiss my symptoms. Because the first doctor did that nearly twenty-five years ago when he told me it was normal for sixteen-year-old me to have a beard, and do you know what? I’ve had enough of not being listened to. Carrying on day-to-day means having some kind of belief that things might actually improve somewhere down the line, and they haven’t been improving with me trying to do it alone. I’m taking a deep breath and seeing where this goes.

In the meantime, even though it’s the very last thing I want to do, I’m going to make a concerted effort to get outside. I know it will help, and I know I need to do it every day. It feels… naughty, being off work and going for a walk in the woods, but what else can I do at this point?

I’ve also found a new craft which is absolutely perfect for turning my brain off, because I don’t have to concentrate too much, but also if I zone out completely I have to go back and start again. I’m using it to practice not zoning out before I go to work, and also to stop unwanted thoughts. It’s nice to have a little break from my racing mind from time-to-time. I would tell you what it is now, but I’m making a gift for my sister and if I tell you what it is she might guess what I’m making. It was supposed to be a gift for her birthday in December, but in reality there’s no way on earth I can wait that long to give it to her. I can’t wait to show you guys either.

After a very moany load of paragraphs (I felt like I just really needed to get that out) I will leave with something positive. So here is a beautiful dahlia, ‘cafe au lait’, which has somehow survived heatwaves, slugs, snails and neglect to turn into an absoute stunner. What can I say, she’s more resilient than me!

Hayley x

Cramming

I’m currently coming to the end of a very long weekend and I’ve had some serious exhaustion to contend with. I’m talking the ‘my family thought I might be dead’ kind of deep sleeping. It’s been… something else.

I’d guess that on one of the days of my extended weekend I must have slept for about 20 HOURS. I suppose I needed it? For the life of me, I just couldn’t seem to stay awake. I was infuriating my colleagues last week- night work is especially hard in the summer as it becomes so difficult to sleep during the day. On the hottest day everyone looked like a sleep-deprived mess. Everyone except for me, that is. I slept for 11 hours straight.

I finally seem to have slept myself out, so now with one day before I go back to work, it’s time to CRAM. I promised myself I’d get everything straight this weekend, and I don’t intend to break that promise. My main goals for the rest of the summer are to keep the plants alive, to practice painting, to get my fitness levels up and to drop some more pounds. And to paint, paint and paint some more. Today I need to get loads of boring organising and cleaning done so that I can keep it in order from now on and mostly concentrate on those goals.

Yesterday was a garden pottering day whilst I eased myself back into staying awake for more than five minutes at a time. I don’t have nearly as many tomato plants as I’d planned, but the ones I do have look really robust and healthy. Good ole tomato plants. Most excitingly, the tomatoes have started to appear already.

I think it’s really cool that seeing that first fruit of the season gives me the same buzz that I got from first growing tomatoes two years ago. I’m not sure why- they’re pretty easy to grow, but I’m not complaining. I’ll take my dopamine wherever I can get it.

I bought this young sunflower indoors from the garden back in May, in an attempt to save it from the garden pests. They had nibbled it down to slightly less than a single leaf, damn them. It’s a Mongolian sunflower, and all of my seedlings were eaten bar two, so I didn’t want to take any chances. It has taken such a long time, but it’s finally bouncing back.

My wish is that I get at least one head this year so I have seeds for next year, rather than having to buy more. The same goes for my ‘Tumbling Tom’ tomatoes. Apparently, they are the only variety of tomato that is a true trailing plant, and the seeds were way more expensive than any other I’ve ever bought. There were only a few in the packet, and only one plant survived. Thankfully it looks like it’s going to fruit prolifically so I can also save seeds from that plant (although they may not come true when I sow them next year). I don’t care about stuff like that- for me, that’s a huge part of the excitement. You never know quite what you’re going to get.

I’m very excited that my hollyhocks look like they’re finally going to flower. They were supposed to flower last year but didn’t, so I can’t wait to see what this variety comes out like. Unfortunately, they are absolutely riddled with hollyhock rust (a common fungal infection) so they aren’t exactly looking wonderful, but a ropey hollyhock is better than no hollyhock in my opinion.

The pests really are outdoing themselves this year. I’ve heard other UK gardeners saying the same thing- that the aphids have just gone crazy this summer. Ladybirds eat them, but I’ve only seen one single ladybird this season. One is nowhere near enough. My RHS Gardening magazine tells me to be patient and that the ladybirds and lacewings will eventually come to eat the aphids up, and to not be tempted to spray the plants. Not that I would. We don’t do pesticides in this garden, no matter how annoying the bugs get.

I guess we could also describe our flock of garden sparrows as pests, but I find them hilarious. I suppose it must be handed down the generations that us particular humans aren’t a threat, because every year they try harder and harder to get inside the house. Well, one has actually succeeded so far this year after making it into my brother’s bedroom.

We have both of our bird boxes occupied, but one couple must be new to the area because they don’t like us so much. The shout at me if I get too close and practically dive-bombed my mum while she was out there. One even touched her cheek as it flew by. I don’t have photographic evidence, so here’s a photo I’ve recylcled from 2020. It’s the same box, so I think it counts.

To get a blog posted was in fact on my to-do list this weekend, so I don’t feel bad for taking the time to do it. Having said that, it’s time I cracked on before I run out of energy. I’ve got A LOT to do.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

When a Plan Comes Together

I used to say that I didn’t give a damn about what our house looked like- there are more important things in life than having a picture-perfect home. Up until quite recently, as a family, we’ve been dirt poor. Growing up it was normal not to have a carpet or to have hand-me-downs- you get used to these things. Check out one of the sofas we used to have… They don’t make ’em like that anymore (thank GOD). I believe that came from my great-nan, but I could be wrong. I wonder when it was made. The 70’s? Earlier? All I know is that it’s a monstrosity.

As time goes on I get increasingly self-aware, for better or worse, and once you start taking notice of things, you can’t help but spot patterns. One major thing I have learned about myself is that not living in a nice space makes me grumpy as hell. Despite the fact that the house has needed decorating for years (at least ten), it was with some reluctance that I started doing something about it. Once I began to really see the changes, however, I knew it was worth it. I feel so much better in myself.

When the chap came to lay the new flooring in the living room, I realised it was the first time I’d ever done proper adulting in that respect. It is the first time I have ever arranged something like that by myself, which was then followed by another first. I just bought my first ever brand new sofa, at age 39, which is quite something. Unless it came from a family member, the only other sofa I bought was a second-hand one from a charity shop when I briefly lived in an absolute dump of a flat with my then-boyfriend. I’m all for recycling, but that sofa did smell funny. There was no getting away from that.

As these things go, apart from the flooring, which we splashed out on so that the animals wouldn’t destroy it in five minutes flat, we haven’t spent much money and certainly don’t have the finest of anything. We don’t need anything particularly fancy, but it’s nice enough that I feel infinitely happier than I did. I think the pandemic made me realise how important for the soul it is to have a decent sanctuary away from the world. Home is a good place to be.

I’m not finished by any means. The old carpet and furniture is being taken away towards the end of the month, until which time we’ll just have to look like a bunch of hoarders, and there are loads of little odds and ends still to be done. Now I’ve made so much progress it thankfully doesn’t feel nearly as overwhelming. Dare I say it, I’m actually having fun now! Most importantly, the animals approve. That’s the main thing.

Be that as it may, I have worked hard over the last few weeks and this weekend I just needed a good old rest. For so long it’s been all too easy for me to consider needing rest as an excuse for eating cake and drinking wine, but told you I was going to do better, and I did.

During the week I went to pick up a pile of bricks that my sister and her fiancé kindly let me have (giving the garden even more hoarder-vibes than ever), and I called upon my friend and his van to help me out. I was very grateful not to have to make twenty trips in the car, so as a thank you I took him out for lunch.

I’d had work the previous night and I was exhausted. Diets and exhaustion don’t go hand in hand, because once you reach that point of tiredness it becomes all too easy throw caution to the wind. Luckily I’d had the foresight to plan what I was going to do ahead of time, and somehow I managed to stick to said plan.

I find Wagamama a great place to eat out because even their healthy dishes are flipping delicious. I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy a Wagamama as it happens. Do you ever do that thing where you eat something so tasty that you have to nod and say ‘mmm, MMM, MMMMMMM!!!!’ as you’re eating it? Maybe that’s just me, but either way it’s a sure sign I’m eating some fabulous grub.

On my days off I was going to start on the project I had in mind for the bricks, but I decided rest and relaxation were more important. The bricks can wait. My number one priority has been to stick to plan when it comes to food, and I’ve done exactly that. My reward to myself for working hard was to actually lose some weight and start feeling better already. Because I really do, after just one week.

The constant heartburn is now non-existent, there is a huge reduction in tummy bloating, meaning I can sit more comfortably, and I’ve seriously been enjoying my food. Plus a distinct lack of hangover is a bonus. What did I ultimately get for my hard work? A 7lb loss, that’s what. Happy days.

Now I finally feel like I’m moving forward, and absolutely nothing is going to get in my way.

Hayley x

Something of a Mess

This year I inadvertently took part in ‘No Mow May’. It was a complete accident- I was simply too busy to cut the grass. Or at least, when I did have a spare moment, it was of course raining. I’m not knocking the rain- I didn’t have time to water the plants so I owe anything still being alive out there to the odd shower. The weeds are thriving which I guess is good for the pollinators, but it’s not that easy on the eyes.

That’s kind of a lie actually. I am personally rather partial to the ‘wild’ look but my mother isn’t a fan, and it’s also really hard to find dog poops in the long grass.

Since we currently have a jungle instead of a garden, I’m patiently waiting until it gets late enough in the morning to cut the grass. I could do it now, but at 8am on a bank holiday? I don’t think the neighbours would be impressed. It is the Jubilee weekend in the UK, not that it means much to me. I couldn’t give a rat’s behind about the queen and I don’t get any extra days off work. Yay for working in retail. But I guess I should allow the rest of the street their lie-in. Me, bitter? Never.

In between paragraphs I’ve been popping out into the garden to see what’s new, and I’ve noticed that some of the nasturtiums have sneakily flowered. I haven’t even got around to sticking them in the ground yet but they’re doing just fine on their own.

So, I previously wrote that I was going to start being healthy this Monday, and wonder of wonders, I actually did. It’s a miracle! Before COVID I used to walk into town all the time instead of taking the car, but I haven’t done it since before the outbreak. Until yesterday that is. I’ve been putting it off for no other reason than I feel so bloody self-conscious about my appearance at the moment.

Fitness-wise I was fine. Despite being several stones heavier than the last time I walked that route, I did around five miles with not even a blister to show for it. Including doing my shopping, I was on my feet for just over two hours. Ok, I was also quite a bit out of breath and absolutely BAKING, but I’m happy that I don’t have to start right from the beginning when it comes to getting my old life back. In any case, look at that view. That sky! You don’t get that sitting indoors.

As for food, where I have repeatedly fallen down is that I started listening too much to other people. All the times I’ve been the most successful at losing weight so far, I’ve been following the Slimming World plan. The premise is that you can eat as much as you want of ‘Free Foods’, so you never have to worry about going hungry. The plan states that you should eat until you feel full, but that’s something I never paid much attention to at first. I like big portions, I always have. I like to eat.

It’s right that Slimming World should add a caveat with the Free Foods, because if you start eating everything in sight for the sake of it then you’re obviously not going to lose much weight. Having said that, I definitely took it too much to heart. I remember I’d lost quite a bit of weight already when my consultant asked me what I’d eaten recently. I’d made a crustless quiche, and if I remember rightly I’d used six eggs. She said to me, ‘but you didn’t eat it all, right?’ I did. I ate the whole damn lot, and I lost several pounds that week as it happens. I lost several pounds every week back then.

After that, other things started creeping into the group conversations. I started feeling guilty if my portions were too big or if I ate until I was stuffed, and that made me not only miserable but also, annoyingly, hungry. I see it on social media, too. HOW CAN SLIMMING WORLD WORK IF YOU CAN EAT 10KG OF PASTA AND STILL BE ON PLAN?!?!? Well, you can’t. As in, you can’t eat 10kg of pasta and not explode. That’s how it works.

Previous attempts to ignore the voice telling me to have one less potato or whatever have failed, but I have a whole new supply of determination at the moment. I have been eating very generous meals, and I’ve noticed that I haven’t been getting ridiculous cravings. Long may it continue! Yes, I’m still worried that I won’t lose any weight this week, but I need to see this through. I’m ignoring the doubts, and even if I don’t lose, at least I’m eating some veggies. My heartburn has almost gone, too. It will NOT be missed.

Ok, it’s only been 3 days and I have a long way to go, but I’m three days closer to my goal than I was before.

That’s something.

Hayley x

For Now

I still haven’t had time to get out into the garden over the last week. I’ve felt like I’ve needed more than the usual amount of sleep just lately, so I’ve been letting it happen. Case in point- I slept for about ten hours last night, left my sister’s in the morning (intending to get cracking with a load of stuff I want to do), but went back to bed for another five hours. I finally emerged at about 5pm, and will definitely still be able to sleep tonight. Sometimes you just need a good old catch up.

Between naps (and rain showers) I’ve been out with my camera. Last year I sowed a wildflower mix, and since I didn’t know what it contained at all I had fun identifying what grew. To be honest ID-ing flowers is one of my favourite passtimes of all. One flower that stood out for me was the California poppy, which has come back this year and has definitely multiplied. They’re really cool – I like them from their initial seed heads all the way to their petals. They are so pretty in all kinds of ways.

In 2020 my friend’s mum moved house. She dug up a variety of unknown bulbs from her new place and donated them to me, which I then haphazardly planted around the garden. None at all flowered last year, but this month I have discovered that some of them are gladioli. I think. It’s not a plant I’m especially familiar with.

At first I wasn’t overly taken with them, but their petals unfurling is actually rather beautiful. I’ve decided they can stay.

The giant allium from last year is in full bloom, despite me wondering whether it might not perform as well this year. For one thing it flowered a lot earlier than its first year, but in addition to that it’s also just as big as it was before. It’s a beaut, for sure.

Unless it’s nighttime, you literally cannot go near it and not see a bee. It’s impossible. Same for the comfrey, which I grew to make feed for the garden. The bees love it, and I love the flowers, so I cannot bear to cut it down. Guess I’m sticking with ordinary tomato feed for now.

After 2.5 years, and one last evening of ‘treats’ (for the time being) my period of eating and drinking all kinds of unhealthy crap is now at an end. It absolutely has to be, because I’m really feeling it now. My fitness is certainly not at an all-time low, not by any means, but it ain’t great either. I have heartburn pretty much all the time and I’ve started to be concerned about other things, such as high blood pressure.

I’m approaching 40 now, and things like that are starting to seem a lot scarier than they used to. I’ve really got to start taking care of myself.

To see me through the next couple of months I had an evening of fun at my sister’s yesterday. I will eventually try to find a good balance of health and fun, but for now I just need to get my s**t together, you know?

We had a nice BBQ then once it got dark got the firepit out. I do love a good fire, and as a photographic subject it’s hard to beat. These are just taken on my phone, but they’re pretty cool all the same.

I do love visiting my sister and her fiancé, but the best bit of all is Newton. It’s all the more fun visiting him at his home because he seems so excited that I have gone to see him instead of the other way round. But then the best of the best is that I was allowed to say over in the spare room (AKA Newton’s room) and he kindly permitted me to sleep in his bed.

He spent most of the night sleeping with me and… I just can’t tell you how happy it makes me. He’s such a sweetie, I will never get over how much I love that dog. How a whippet manages to take up the majority of a double bed is still a mystery, but he manages it somehow, and I’m still happy to take just a corner of the space if it means doggo snuggles.

For now, that’s it with just coating along. From now on I will be making progress.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Soon

I am very much a procrastinator. I intended to start my diet yesterday, but instead, I decided to get a couple of social events out of the way beforehand.

Sunday was a boot sale day, which probably doesn’t automatically mean food for most people. For me and my regular boot sale friend, we will at the very least have ice cream, possibly cake, possibly something hot and tasty for breakfast. Sometimes all of those things. I thought about warning my friend during the car journey that I wouldn’t be partaking of any snacks for the time being, but I changed my mind. This friend does a lot for me, and I thought at the very least I would treat him to breakfast one last time before I get on the wagon for a good while. It really is the least I can do.

We went to the nice boot sale again. It’s a bit out of the way, maybe a twenty-minute car journey, but it’s totally worth it. I’m glad our last trip there was not a fluke. The first stall we came to was selling old plant pots for £1 each, so I bought all of the large ones the chap had.

I don’t mind at all the battered, weathered look, but I happen to be in possession of some Rust-Oleum all surface paint that was begging to be tried out. It’s a primer and paint in one, and first impressions are that it’s damn good stuff. It really does stick to pretty much anything, and it’s suitable for interior and exterior use.

It needs a second coat, but I’m happy with the product so far. The reflection from my little garden table is really cool- I’m tempted to paint that pattern on it permanently.

My other purchase is something I’ve been after for YEARS- an old-fashioned guillotine. I must have said about thirty times as we were walking around the stalls, ‘I can’t believe I finally got one!’ I’ve been keeping an eye on an Instagram account that sells vintage stationery but when one does pop up not only do they get snapped up really quickly, they are also too expensive for my budget.

This was a mere £10. A tenner! I can’t believe it! It looks rough and ready but it cuts like a dream. The chap selling it told me that it was his dad’s, who was a caretaker, and he got it when the school he was working at was demolished to be rebuilt. My dad was also a caretaker, the school was also knocked down, and for a minute I wondered whether this chap might be my half-brother. It’s more than possible because my dad was (is?) a total man whore, and I could well have a variety of siblings out there that I don’t know about, but the ages don’t match up so in this instance it’s just a coincidence.

Next Sunday I’m going to my sister’s for a BBQ where I intend to have a few alcoholic beverages. It’s rare these days that me and the sister get to really chill out and spend quality time together, so it’s an opportunity I’m not willing to pass up. Not to mention that her fiancé can COOK, and to turn down his food would be a sacrilege. I’m really looking forward to it and want to have a fully fun time.

So the diet starts not now, but soon. Very soon.

I’m supposed to be catching up on some gardening today but the weather is poo. Yesterday was gorgeous, and I spent a lot of time in the garden lounging. I’m pleased I didn’t waste the sunshine- and at the end of the day, that’s what the garden is there for. To simply be enjoyed.

This is my first year growing ranunculus, and they are just perfection. They are also one of my least-eaten plants this year.

I’m focusing on the good elements of the garden, and am absolutely not going to dwell on the perhaps 30 healthy heritage carrot seedlings that have been eaten in their ENTIRETY by slugs. Or perhaps a single slug, who knows. I wouldn’t mind but that was my most protected area and those seedlings should have been fine. Damn you, slug. Damn you to hell.

Luckily there is still time to sow more, because I was really excited about growing yellow, white and purple carrots. Looks like I’ll have to take extra measures if anything’s going to make it to harvest though.

Ah well, it’s all experience!

Today has to be a tidying up day. I now have a nicely painted room, we have new flooring in the living room, but there is also stuff EVERYWHERE. I really had better get to it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Just Pick One Already

The subject I’m going to write about today is something I’ve been over, and over, and over some more. I have been so indecisive about what to do- even now my mind is trying to go in several different ways. I finally realised- I need to choose a course of action and stick with it. Half arsed is not the way.

I am going all in.

I am talking about my weight. A few years ago, I really thought I had it cracked, but then it all went tits up. I can’t put it down to one single thing, there were a whole load of factors and put in the same situation again, I have no doubt I would once more eat allllll the things. In any case, right now I do not feel good about myself.

When I think about dieting, the first thing I feel is guilt. Guilt because I know how harmful diet culture is, and I don’t want to be part of the problem. Buuuuuut, I also really hate being fat. That is just the tip of the iceberg of all the contradictory thoughts that go around my head.

I’m trying to be as honest as possible, and part of that is admitting that this post is reading like all the other times I said I was going to ‘get back on track’ or on the other hand, like all the times I said I was going to learn to be happy being fat. So why is this time different? The answer is, I don’t know. It just is.

I know how rare it is for someone to lose weight and keep it off. I know ‘diets don’t work’. But I’m tired of selling myself short. If I only ever did anything that was 100% likely to succeed, then I’d never do anything at all. None of us would.

Before I started doubting myself over every little thing, I knew I could do this. I was (albeit briefly) really happy, and although life is never perfect, I’m aiming for that sweet spot again. This post isn’t doing the fire I feel in my belly the slightest bit of justice, but it felt wrong, like an omission, not to write about it.

I am drowning out the negative thoughts telling me the success rates are not on my side, that I’m not strong enough, or that I don’t deserve to have the life I want. Screw that.

I’ve been telling myself the same thing about my art for years and when I shut that evil little voice up, that’s when everything changed. That attitude is creeping into other things now. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make my own clothes but there was always something in the back of my mind telling me I wouldn’t be able to do it.

No more of that, thank you very much. I woke up a few days ago with another little flame inside me telling me to learn how to sew, and that actually, yes I CAN. I am CAPABLE. Why wouldn’t I be? I have a new sewing machine because as much as I love my nan’s vintage Singer that I inherited, it’s a bit too temperamental for regular use. I also get the impression it could kill me at any moment- I mean, look at that belt. That can’t be good, right? You should see the switch on it. I doubt it meets any kind of modern safety standards. Electrocution, anyone?

I’m going to start off doing basic adjustments to my existing clothes as my weight drops, and see where I go from there. Far, I reckon. I have a good feeling.

From now on there are no apologies for me following my heart.

Here we go.

Hayley x

Compulsions

Do you ever have those things that you never get bored of? For me, it’s the poppies coming out. They arrive every May without fail, and (almost) every year I still rush to get my camera even though I have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of poppy pictures that all basically look the same. I say almost because I don’t have any pictures from 2019. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed because I have at least one from every year since 2014 and to have a gap, well. I’m not best pleased! Looking back, 2019 was a challenging year for me. That was probably why that year is missing.

I don’t like to dwell on those times. Even now, I don’t even know how to refer to what was going on. Am I talking about my ex? Some guy I knew? What was he? What was I to him? No idea. It was all so… weird. It’s nice to sit here and not feel much at all about that time – I really believe I have properly and healthily processed all that crap (besides the occasional wondering – what the hell was that all about?) But I can’t help thinking… Isn’t it WILD how a literal pandemic affected me less than the emotional abuse of one single fellow human?

Even so, to come out the other side of that with my main concern being that I DIDN’T CAPTURE MY 2019 POPPY? I’ll call that a win.

Aaaaanyway. Yesterday was the day the 2022 poppies emerged for the first time. They’re so sneaky. One moment they look like a bunch of thistles, then the next minute you look over and they have big fat buds waiting to burst. Then one morning you look out of the window and BOOM, red everywhere, blooms the size of plates. They have to be a contender for my favourite plant, but if I’m being honest there’s no way I could pick just one.

2014
2015
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2022

This week I’ve also seen my first fledgling sparrows of the year, just a couple of days after seeing the babies in the nesting box for the first time. One was poking its head out, too impatient to be fed. I’ve recycled a picture from a previous year as I don’t have the lens that can capture that sort of thing anymore. It seemed a waste to keep it when I literally only used it to photograph sparrows once a year.

Both of our bird boxes are in use this year, and I’m sure there will be a few more broods to come from each before the breeding season is out. I do love watching our garden sparrows, they never fail to be entertaining.

The garden is actually a bit of a mess right now because I’ve been indoors all week decorating my room. I’ve had the paint for TWO WHOLE YEARS but as you know from previous posts I really effing hate decorating. I hate it so much that I was considering going with plain old white again just so I didn’t have to worry so much about edges and all that. But that’s cheating, and it would be such a shame to waste the lovely greeny/bluey paint that I’d already bought.

I’m so glad I made the effort (eventually) because it’s looking really good in there now. I’m not ready to share a picture yet because we have other things going on in the house so the decorating stuff is yet to be cleared away. Today I have to empty the living room in its entirety because the flooring is being done in there tomorrow. That’s something I both can’t wait for and am dreading. It’ll be nice once it’s done but… everything is in turmoil!

After this week life should return to something resembling normality and I can actually do something fun again. And dare I say it, sort some aspects of my life out that have needed attention for a while.

More on that later, once everything is back to some kind of order. I cannot wait.

Hayley x

Just Like Heaven

It has been a perfect Sunday of simple pleasures. I’m sitting writing in the garden with a cup of tea and the sun is hot (but not too hot) on my back. Earlier I had a little lay down on the picnic blanket, and when I put my head on the pillow I’d bought down with me, the side that had been sitting in the sun was deliciously hot. That’s the only word I can think to describe it. I don’t think I have felt this relaxed since 2017.

I got up nice and early to visit a boot sale I’ve never been to before. The one near me is absolutely enormous but people don’t really seem to sell much in the way of boot sale-type stuff. I like to go for the food, especially when the bakery stall is open, but it’s quite rare to find an actual bargain.

This new one was situated in, shall we say, a more reputable area and it showed. I’m wary of pickpockets at our one but at this one, I spotted someone selling photo frames who had left a note- ‘if I’m not here leave £5 per frame in the box’. You would not get that in my area!

A chap at work was selling at the other boot sale a few weeks ago and had to threaten to call security when a less-than-savoury sort was stuffing all of the contents of his table in bin bags but not, y’know, paying him.

Do you know, today I don’t think they even had security guards at their boot sale? Absolutely wild.

What I enjoyed most about today was that there were unusual things. Even if I didn’t particularly like them, there was plenty of ‘ooh look at that’ rather than ‘why are there so many people selling bongs?’

Although I don’t usually go to boot sales with anything in particular in mind that I want to buy, today I was on the lookout for some lavender plants. I came home with three of them, for a fiver. Perfect.

Then I saw a sewing box. It’s a definite fixer-upper, but it should be easy enough that even I can do it. That was £10. Locally I’d never be able to buy something like that- they’d ask for something extortionate like £40.

My favourite item of the day was another sewing box, this one is more of a sorry state but really unusual. I only had £5, so I was brave and did an actual haggle. I’m normally so uncomfortable doing that, but I wanted that sewing box badly, I really did.

I have a tendency to buy things with the intention of fixing them up, but then I get overwhelmed and end up giving them away. In this case, I’m determined. I’ve already made a start, as it happens.

As I removed the veneer on the top of the box, was I pretending I was on an episode of The Repair Shop? You bet I was.

In the garden, this is what’s left of the sunflower I was most excited about.

The variety is ‘Mongolian Giant’ and out of four healthy plants this one leaf is all that’s left. I’m having a huge slug and snail problem this year, much worse than my first gardening year, which was 2020, and again worse than 2021 which itself was a bitch. In 2020 people on Instagram were asking me, ‘how did you grow that without it being eaten?’ Turns out the answer was sheer dumb luck.

This year I’ve been taking preventative measures but the only foolproof way to protect the plants is basically to not have them in the bloody garden. Or pesticides I guess, but I absolutely will not use them and never ever will. Some seedlings I had in a sealed mini greenhouse but somehow a slug managed to get in the smallest gap. Then I read somewhere that they can stretch to 20x their body length. DAMN THEM TO HELL.

I’m on a rescue mission with my special sunflower, which has been bought into the house until it is strong enough to withstand the pests. If all else fails, I will try again next year, but be much more protective of my seedlings in future.

Apart from that, little seed pods are appearing on the honesty, and when they are backlit by the afternoon sun they are just gorgeous.

So cool.

The poppies always seem to come out of nowhere. One minute they’re not doing much and the next second you look they have big fat buds on them waiting to burst.

And we have ALLIUMS INCOMING.

The only thing that would be good enough to end this perfect day is a good old session of playing Sims 4. Yes I’m 39, and yes I still play Sims. Unapologetically. As adults we don’t make enough time for play. I’m here to tell you that we should!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

NOPE.

That’s it, my week of annual leave is at an end and I’m back at work tonight. Last night I started feeling familiar feelings of anxiety- not about going to work, but about how much there is still to do around the house. But then I told myself ‘NO’. We aren’t doing this. I have made a huge amount of progress with decorating despite the fact I’ve hated almost every single second of it.

Apart from the glossing. I quite enjoyed that part.

Weird.

Whilst decorating, I made a decision. Over the next couple of weeks, I still have some bits to finish off (including laying a carpet, ugh) but after that, I am vowing to NEVER decorate again. DIY can absolutely do one. I hate it, it’s my own private hell. In future what I’m going to do is pay someone to do it for me, which yes, could be construed as lazy. It’s not that I can’t be bothered though, it’s just that for some reason it’s TORTURE for me. Yes, I hate it that much!

I keep thinking ‘don’t be silly, you can save so much money doing it yourself’ but then I think of all the other things I could have been doing this week. The garden has been calling out to me- although I’ve spent some time out there it’s not been nearly enough. I have only sat down to (properly) paint once. This is an unacceptable use of future annual leave.

It doesn’t help that I was pretty poorly the week before my holiday. I had intended to get a lot of prep done so that I could just crack on with the actual painting and get it out of the way, but I just wasn’t up to it. Still, never again. I am standing by that.

DIY is just NOT my thing.

I have been having thoughts about the garden, those thoughts being that I’m really happy with it right now. I haven’t actually had to do much to it this year, other than a bit of weeding and cutting the grass. When it’s the middle of winter and everything is so bleak, it’s hard to imagine anything looking nice and colourful again.

But the garden has come back to life spectacularly, and even though I don’t have time to do all the things I’d like to out there, I’m glad that it is a welcoming space. I do enjoy just sitting out there and looking at it (when I get the chance, that is).

Probably my favourite place is under the apple tree. Newton likes it there too (he obviously has good taste). To some, it’s probably a mess, but I’m not some, I’m me. I love it, and that’s all that matters. There is so much growing under there. Some stuff I planted myself, some of it mum planted years ago, some stuff has found its way there all by itself. It’s one of those spaces where the more you look the more you see, and I could look at it for hours.

It’s hard to imagine that when we moved here the whole garden was just dirt and rubble. There wasn’t even a single blade of grass. It’s a shame we didn’t get a picture of it, but in those days (damn, I’m sounding old now!) we couldn’t afford film for the camera, (did we even have a camera at that point?) if we did have film we couldn’t have afforded to get it developed, and I was still a few years away from getting my first digital camera. Don’t get me started on that subject- after all this time I’m still in awe that digital photography is a thing. It’s just… magic. There are a few material things in life I’ll never take for granted, and photography is one of them.

Did you know, there are people in the world who don’t like tulips? I was only made aware of this recently through the gardening corner of Instagram. It’s true that they don’t last long (some people online refer to them as ‘divas’) but I don’t care about that.

They come, they slap you in the face with spring then they go. They can be flashy divas all they want, I need that wake-up call to let me know spring is finally here.

I have started to deadhead them now, but they have performed so spectacularly. I have no regrets. Here’s the last tulip picture I took, one for the road I guess.

Until next year, ladies. Everything has its time, right?

Speaking of time, how is it MAY? That one snuck up stealthily on me. I have some plans for this month, but more about that next time. Right now I have the very exciting task of… doing the laundry. Rock n’ roll.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x