Oh the Humidity

Yesterday I took myself out on a walk in the woods. It’s been horribly, horribly humid the last couple of days, but I’d decided I was going to go walking no matter what. No excuses.

When I got out of my car the air was like soup, but I thought once I got deep into the woods and into the shade it would probably be nicer. Nope. It was just as soupy. It was 25c outdoors, which is just about my perfect temperature under normal circumstances, but the humidity is just the worst. I spent a few months in Malta some years back, and even when it reached 42c it was easier to cope with than the weather here. Hot and dry, I can deal with. Hot and moist? No. No way. It’s exhausting.

If you’re in the UK and experiencing this drought, you may have noticed a distinct autumnal quality to the woods lately.

But we aren’t experiencing early autumn, it’s simply the trees dropping their leaves in an attempt to stay alive by diverting all the resources they have to essential functions only. That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling lately, now I come to think of it.

Some areas of my local woods are looking distincly forlorn, but other parts are doing just fine. Better than normal, in fact, because now we aren’t having any lockdowns, a lot less people are coming here for their exercise. As such this area has gone back to being overgrown just like it was pre-covid. There’s a lot less litter about, too (although still lots of abandoned poo bags, which is just flipping disgraceful).

On the 15th of August we were forecast rain for the next day, so I got every container that didnt have holes in the bottom out in the garden to catch any rain we might get. That’s in addition to the water butt. The ground is so hard and dry, if we do get any significant rain it just runs off instead of soaking in, so I thought I’d catch what I could.

We did get rain the next day, but it was only a few spots that evaporated almost instantly. Very disappointing. So that’s where they have stayed, empty, since the 15th. In fact, this morning is the first time since I don’t even know when that it really rained, and goodness me am I relieved. I’ve only been watering the plants I cannot bear to lose, and I especially couldn’t stand to use up all the water it would have taken to keep the grass green. It’ll bounce back just fine, and at least I haven’t had to worry about cutting it.

This morning we had a deluge and not only is the water butt completely full once more, things in the garden that have been struggling for weeks are already looking transformed.

That’s the very same bush, would you believe.

It’s still raining gently this afternoon, and although it is still humid the air has definitely cleared significantly. Hopefully it will be tolerable for work tonight, because last night was… damp. I managed to grab an impromptu night’s holiday after only being there for an hour-and-a-half, and I was already drenched in sweat. It doesn’t help that the forklift trucks are powered by a half-ton battery which gets hot when you use it, so you’re basically spending 8 hours sitting on a heater. Yuk.

Me, personally? I’m very much looking forward to real autumn and (hopefully) a more manageable climate to exist in for the time being. I’m also seriously hoping I manage to get my act together in terms of weight loss so I can have a much more comfortable summer next year, one I’m able to much better cope with.

Then again, I’ve been saying that for two years now! Still, I can but try.

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

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

Me and My Brain

Right, I am finally getting somewhere when it comes to understanding and working WITH what I have in the brain department rather than against it. Of all my artistic pursuits it’s clear to me now that painting is the hands-down favourite of them all, so in order to have the best chance of actually, well, painting anything (as opposed to just thinking about painting and not actually doing it) I have now perfected the permanent painting set-up in my room. It is WORKING!

As soon as an obstacle is placed in front of me, procrastination sets in. I would just paint but first I have to do such and such, but such and such is booooooooring so I’ll put it off and then put it off some more. But now, I walk into my room and BAM, everything is ready to go.

I will share that space with you soon, but first (this is not a ‘procrastination’ first but a real one) I need to spend this week doing a different kind of painting. Then I’ll show you this little area that I’m so excited about.

To say I’ve been putting off decorating for about 20 years would not even be exaggerating. Over the last three years or so I’ve been very much intending to give everything a refresh, but every time I booked annual leave in order to do it, it so happened that I found myself quite badly depressed.

On these occasions I’d go so far as to say my week off left everything in a worse state than before.

It doesn’t help that decorating is one of those tasks I find incredibly boring, but in this instance I think I’ve come to the very limit of how long I can put it off. I just have to bite the bullet and GET IT DONE.

It’s actually funny reading back what I’ve written so far because I started this post yesterday. At the exact time I should have started the decorating, as it happens. I did locate everything I need for the task, so that’s something, but the entire day was spent doing anything but decorating.

I intended to get started but somehow I found myself in the garden. I did a bit of weeding and whatnot, then got the carrots sown in the small raised bed. I’m actually really excited about these, but it’ll be at least three months till they’re ready. Hopefully they’ll be worth the wait.

After that, I took Newty out for a walk, something that I had been intending to do no matter what. It’s been too long since I last went to the woods with my bestest mate.

It was the perfect spring day for walking. A bit chilly, until you get started that is, then exactly the right temperature. With added sunny spells. Then the tiniest bit of refreshing drizzle right at the end of the walk.

As much as I’ve been enjoying the sunshine we really could do with some rain. The water butt is nearly empty already.

Ok, I get it. I’m still procrastinating. So I’d best finish up here and get the hell on with it.

After just one more cup of tea.

Hayley x

Just Can’t Get Enough

It’s a tradition that every single British bank holiday should have atrocious weather, but this Easter weekend has surprisingly been an absolute beauty. I’d go so far as to say it’s been almost perfect.

I knew the most sunshine was forecast for Saturday and Sunday, so I made sure I spent plenty of time in the garden on those days. Today is nice, but not quite as nice. I keep banging on about the tulips but DAMN they are performing. I just can’t stop looking at them! Most of them I planted the year before last, and although I’ve read that tulips don’t normally do as well in their second year, it seems that no one made mine aware of that.

I’ve been trying to pick a favourite, and I’d say that so far Princess Irene is the winner. At least I think they’re called Princess Irene. I am the worst with labelling so that’s just a guess.

All of my tulips are from Farmer Gracy. I first discovered Farmer Gracy from an Instagram ad so I was a bit suspicious at first, but everything I’ve ever bought from there has been spectacular. I noticed yesterday that my giant allium, which is in its second year, has got its head. That was one of my favourites from 2020 so I’m glad it’s making a decent comeback.

In a few months it should look like this:

What an absolute stunner. Also the bees LOVE IT.

In other garden news, I have decided that I am pretty much done with starting seeds off super early. It’s just too much of a pain in the behind, for very little benefit. The only thing I’d say was worth it is the chillies and the tomatoes. Even though it’s been fun to grow the chillies, I hardly ever eat fresh chillies so it’s kind of pointless that I now have SIX chilli plants. My sister is going to take one of them, and I want to keep one for myself, but I need to remember to only grow things that will either be beautiful or actually useful.

The tomatoes are another matter entirely. I eat a lot of tomatoes and some that I accidentally sowed in February are doing really well. I didn’t have any compost so I reused some I found in the garden that must have had tomato seeds in it from last season.

What I wanted to grow didn’t germinate at all, but the tomatoes are looking nice and healthy.

What can I say? It’s a learning curve. I am actually enjoying the trial and error and finding out what works for me.

In 2019 I had great success with marigolds, but last year they were all eaten by slugs. Even though they are supposed to be a natural slug and snail deterrent. I tried again this year and of the twenty seedlings I put in one of my cold frames, only three haven’t been munched to oblivion. I wondered if something else was eating them, but on closer inspection the telltale slime trail was indeed present.

The other cold frame has been ok because I tried a little experiment of putting Lava-Lite No-Slugs on the ground. It’s a pet- and child-safe deterrent that the slugs and snails simply don’t like to cross, so now I know it works I’ve ordered some more. As it happens I also recommend their solution for fungus gnats, which I only use for indoor plants. It doesn’t kill them, they just don’t like it and go away to annoy someone else.

I also did my first springtime walk in the woods last week. Greater Stitchwort is one of my favourite wildflowers and it’s everywhere right now.

It was also nice to get out for some proper exercise – something that I’ve been avoiding recently. I was planning more walks this week, but I’ve caught a bug (thankfully a non-covid bug) so instead I’m going to be resting up until I’m better. Exercising and not being able to breathe through your nose do not really go hand in hand!

In fact, I think it’s time for a nap.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Gently Does It.

January seems to have lasted a hundred years already. Despite the strong urge to do the opposite, I’m letting myself ease into the year gently. Veeeeery gently. I’ve just finished a three-day weekend and during that time I did virtually nothing. I could Not. Be. Bothered.

Maybe it’s work culture that makes me feel like this, but there’s always that background pressure to do MORE. All the time, more, more, MORE. I lost five pounds this week. But if I tried HARDER, exercised MORE, I could have lost MORE. I started reading a book, but if I read quicker and didn’t take breaks then I could have read 3 books! Imagine that! Think of the books I could read over the course of a year!

It does my head in.

I finished a painting today, which was fun.

But I could have done it quicker. I could have done three paintings and I could sell them, and make more money, and I could be a BOSS BITCH or some shit and have a side hustle and… knowing me, have a lovely nervous breakdown.

I have to consciously make myself stop those kinds of thoughts. The main reason (apart from that it’s super unhealthy for me) is that I don’t want my life to be like that. I want to live a slow, considered life, a life where I take notice of the small things. That’s not the kind of world we live in, is it? I find myself getting swept up in it all, but I’m throwing out the anchor. I am intentionally making the life I want and ignoring what other people are doing. Unless what they are doing is chilling the heck out.

I was doing quite well with this a few years ago. During my walks in the woods I started noticing all the thousands and thousands of details I’d previously missed. Gradually, as I got fitter and started losing weight more successfully, my focus slipped and my primary goal became BURNING MORE CALORIES. Now with every walk I feel guilty that I haven’t had a ‘proper workout’. I feel that I somehow wasted that time.

Which is nonsense, isn’t it. My walks made me so happy yet I somehow made it something to get stressed about. That is soooooo me.

I am intentionally going back to the Hayley that stops to notice all the things. I have learned so much about myself over the last few years, through trial and more error than I’d like to admit. Now I know enough that going forward I can bring with me the things that make me happy whilst leaving the rest behind. The only other thing of note that’s happened during my weekend is to get a little gardening done, just a little. I’m late (or early, depending on which way you look at it) but the bulbs have finally been planted.

This year I have 30 tulips, 30 ranunculus and a few anemones. I’m very excited to see a bit of colour in the garden again. My little garden helper had come to visit but he spent most of the time staring at me from the bushes. Little weirdo.

I’m definitely getting somewhere, but I’m getting there one little step at a time and enjoying the view on the way. Life is precious, and I intend to make the most of it in the most gentle way possible. In fact, gentle is going to be my word of the year.

Thank for reading,

Hayley x

Friends

This year has already been challenging. I decided that, no matter what happens, I’ll keep working towards my goals. I didn’t expect to be challenged quite so soon, but the first week of January was a tough one.

In October last year, we had to say goodbye to one of our pets, our little Chester. Pet doesn’t cover it, he was our little friend, our family member, and he was with us for eighteen years. He had a good inning, as they say, but no matter how much time we have it’s never enough. I knew I’d be upset, but I honestly had no idea just how hard it would be.

He was such a good cat. And so funny! He had the loudest cat snore I’ve heard in my life but at the same time the most pathetic little squeak of a meow. He liked tummy rubs and he would always dart into the bathroom and keep me company whenever I needed the loo. Yes, he was a bit strange, but that’s why he fit in with our family so well. We’re all a bit odd here.

It was only once he was gone I registered that he greeted me at the door nearly every single morning when I got home from work. Even now I always expect to see him sitting there waiting for a cheek rub.

I guess I’ve been struggling since then. Then on top of that, we have the crappy weather and the usual January blues. I was determined to make a good start to the year in spite of not exactly feeling in the mood, and I have been doing a good job, but then my sister unexpectedly had her parrot, Petrie, pass away.

Petrie and I had a rocky start – the first time I bird-sat she bit me quite a lot and even drew some blood, but as I got to know her and learned her boundaries we became really good friends. I will miss hanging out with her so much, she was the coolest little bird and it was such a privilege when she let me scritch her cheek feathers. I always felt so honoured when she would do a kind of little bow to let me know it was ok to stroke her. So special!

When I sat down and allowed myself to be completely honest with myself, I realised how much I have been using food and alcohol to manage my emotions over the last two years. I’ve always been an emotional eater, even at the best of times, but just lately I realised I simply have to stop. I want to be able to cope with my emotions in a healthy way, and I’ll never learn how if I don’t face up to them instead of pretending it’s not happening and smothering them with wine and pizza.

So that’s been HARD, just letting myself feel sad. I can’t say I’m a fan, but I’ve been really feeling in my body how my lifestyle has been affecting me and I simply couldn’t carry on that way any longer. It was a make or break moment, and so far I’ve made it through without sabotaging my plans for this year. Given my current mood, I’m fairly proud of that.

Crappy things will always be happening in life. I can’t let them put me back every single time, because that will get me absolutely nowhere at all. As evidenced by the 39 years of my life so far. Opening yourself up though and letting yourself feel after years of pretending you’re not bothered… oof, that’s painful. But even though it’s almost unbearable, the good stuff that comes along with it is worth it. Every time. Feeling a loss like that means you got to feel the love, too. Cheesy, but oh so true.

So, here’s what I’ve done in terms of ‘self-care’. I’ve made an appointment to have an assessment for counselling. I’ve started to increase my exercise levels and have even been OUTSIDE for a couple of walks. I have been eating VEGETABLES! I have been sleeping when I needed to. I took a couple of sick days from work instead of pushing through.

The outside has been lovely, actually. Bitterly cold, but when the sun has been out (and I’ve had the energy) me and my camera have been out adventuring. Oh, I had missed doing that!

Everything is coming to life again already. Even in my poor neglected garden there is so much to discover, so I’m going to make the effort to get out there this weekend and do some jobs that should have been done weeks ago. A bit of gardening is always good for the soul.

The sadness I’ve been feeling lately, it’s almost like it’s physical pain. Like I’m… bruised, somehow. At the same time I feel like it would be weird to not feel that way, given the circumstances, and in actual fact in the long run feeling like has got to be a good thing. Better out than in.

Whilst it’s important to honour those feelings it’s also important to be grateful for all the good stuff in life. I feel like I appreciate the positives deeply lately, and that is what can come from letting yourself feel all the things.

Friends, thank you for reading. I am glad you’re here.

Hayley x

This Time Next Year

The weekend just gone I had a rather impressive pity party. I did get some things done – I assembled a new bed, had a rearrange… and left everything else in a bigger state than when I started. I had one of those weekends where I could only bring myself to do the bare minimum. All I really wanted to do was stay in bed, and for the most part, that’s what I did.

On the plus side I read three books. On the downside I am now even heavier than when I decided that this time I was really, really going to get back on my diet. The lies we tell ourselves!

As I was laying awake at 4am (my sleep has also been atrocious) I realised that there’s only one way to get myself out of this funk, and that’s with sheer bloody-minded effort on my part. I’ve got to work my way out of this.

As if he was psychic, a message from a friend popped up while I was reading an ebook on my phone.

‘Is this you?’

It was indeed me. There’s no point showing you the picture, because it was taken in the days before phone cameras were good (although I’m only talking 2012… I feel old!) but I looked hefty. Someone shared it on Facebook and my friend wasn’t entirely sure it was me he was looking at.

Because it was this time in 2012 I really started losing weight properly for the first time, I could say off the top of my head how much I weighed in that picture – 22 stone 4 pounds, my heaviest ever. I remember weighing myself that very morning and looking at the scales in dismay. Although I’m glad to say I never got that heavy ever again, if I don’t take action now I could well end up back there.

I told my friend that right now I weigh a mere two stone less than I did in that picture, and happily he agrees that it looks like there’s a much bigger difference than there actually is. I think it’s because I’m so much more active now than I was back then, I guess I must have more muscle tone. My fitness levels seem to confirm this. The last time I was the weight I am now I was getting seriously out of breath walking in and out of the warehouse at work, but now I can easily hold a conversation as I walk, even when wearing a mask. I suppose things aren’t as bad as I thought they were.

I used my trusty Google photos app to look up other photos of me from that year. I remember I joined Slimming World in the beginning of May that year, and a photo of me from late November shows that I was unrecognisable 6 months later.

That gave me hope that this year is far away from being a write-off. I got my butt out of bed the next day and took Newton for a walk to brush off the cobwebs.

Yesterday another friend messaged me to let me know a band we both like are going to be playing… this time next year. Tickets had just gone on sale and after a moments hesitation, I booked my ticket to Swingamajig 2022.

Swingamajig 2019 (2020 was of course cancelled) was one of the best days I ever had and also the last day I can say I felt truly happy and the world felt vaguely normal. It was also the best I’ve ever felt about myself (I mean, I looked magnificent) and I can’t wait to get back there.

When I was choosing that fabulous dress I couldn’t decide between that one and another one on sale, so I bought both. The other one I still have, and I’m going to slim into it ready for 2022. I had to have a chuckle at how half-cut I look in that picture, but still along way from full-cut (see below!)

365 days to get back into the swing of things (geddit?) then celebrate with an epic evening of shenanigans? I think having this to look forward to is EXACTLY what I need.

After finishing work this morning I got up early, which I try and fail to do every single work day, and went for a 3 mile walk. I intend to go out walking every single day, which is exactly what I used to do. I used to do it and I used to LOVE it. Once home I cut the grass, hung out with Pea then got another few hours sleep. I woke up before my alarm went off AND woke up with more energy than I have done in a good while.

It looks like I chose the right day to get back to it.

The tulips in the garden are now looking absolutely stunning. Since I got the little greenhouse up the garden looks kinda cute and I stopped stressing out about how I hadn’t done enough. Since there’s no guarantee our local climate is suitable enough for the tulips to come back next year, I got my early bird order of more bulbs in, since you get a discount for doing that.

Worst comes to worst, I only have 70 new plants next year. Best case scenario, they all come back and I have HUNDREDS. I’m hoping for the latter!

Hayley x

Vange Well No. 5

Ah, things were going so well. For 10 days. 10 days of being on plan, of feeling in control, before hormones came along and ruined it all. ‘That’ time of the month is always a bitch, but since I’ve been tracking these things using an app (for a few years now) I’ve been as regular as a… regular thing. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I was a whole SEVEN DAYS LATE.

This was a problem because the depression, cravings, sore boobies and irritability just build and build until I come on. So I had seven days of feeling extra shit. Yaaaaaaay. I have this thing where I want something tasty to eat but I don’t know what I want, so I go around eating things until I stop getting a craving.

I did lose 9lbs. I found 8 of them again. It wasn’t even worth it (I never did find the tasty thing I was looking for).

So I’ll start again, and hopefully my hormones will go back to being vaguely manageable in future.

I do think I need to go back to my Slimming World group when it reopens on the 18th of May, because I lose weight better when I’m there. The problem is, I’m so sick to death of the whole format. It’s the same conversations week after week and I’m not sure my tired brain can take it. Maybe if I just go every couple of weeks? I guess it’s probably going to be a weigh-and-go situation anyway? Because of COVID? Ah, to hell with it. I’ll give it a go and see how I get on.

I felt so crappy last week I almost called in sick for work, but I got through it. In fact, I haven’t taken any unpaid time off in two months now, something I don’t think I’ve done in the whole 12 years I’ve worked there. A pat on the back for me, please!

I’ve been gardening sporadically, and right now the tulips and the honesty are looking great. I grew the honesty from seed last year because I’ve seen the seed pods on my past travels, but I never knew the flowers looked so good in spring. They don’t do anything until their second year, but it’s worth the wait.

Beautiful, yes? Their Latin name is Lumeria, meaning moon-like, because of the shape of the seed pods. You can eat the leaves, seeds and root, which apparently taste like cabbage, but I’m not testing that out right now because there is a high probability that Newton has done a wee on them.

Update: I just nibbled a leaf and it was unpleasant.

Today I did manage to do a lot of catching up, and the mini greenhouse that has lived in the hall for god knows how long has finally made it into the garden.

All the baby plants were taking over my room, so even though it may still be a bit too cold at night for them I’ve moved them all out into the greenhouse regardless. For next year I’ve decided that I won’t be starting anything off indoors, as it was all becoming a bit much!

Yesterday me and the brother went on a mini adventure. It’s about time we started getting out again, so we went to find something I’ve been meaning to check out for some time now. I stumbled across it when I was bored at work looking at satellite photos of our nearest nature reserve – Vange Well No. 5.

A bit of Googling tells me that the building was built in the 1920’s, to enclose a well (the last of five, who would have guessed) from which bottles of ‘Farmer Cash’s Famous Medicinal Vange Water’ was sold. If you had ever visted Vange, you would know how utterly unsavoury that sounds.

The building could actually still be beautiful, but of course the vandals have been at it. It’s littered with broken glass, old disposable masks, empty plastic bags that no doubt once contained Class A substances… It’s not somewhere you’d take your kids. I took a few snaps, focusing on the less disgusting parts.

Despite the fact that as soon as you step into the woods the first thing you see is a used condom (the woods are notoriously used by doggers, don’t look it up if you don’t know what it is!) it really is a beautiful spot. You see the odd wildflower the other side of the woods, the parts that I usually frequent, but in this part there are swathes of flowers. It’s such a shame that I wouldn’t dare set foot there if I was alone.

I think that’s it for today’s post because all the gardening has left me well and truly done in.

Hopefully by the next post I’ll have even better news – that I’ve managed to lose a few pounds AND keep them off.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Scarcity Mindest

I’ve read so much about various subjects over the last year, but I am the absolute worst at remembering, well, anything. Details, what I’ve read, who wrote it… none of it sticks. However the scarcity mindset… that, I’m sure, is most definitely a thing.

I think it’s why I became so obsessed with food and drink. Looking back to April last year, in the end we were able to get plenty of food (despite the panic buyers going absolutely nuts), yet the moment I even percieved any kind of scarcity I wanted nothing more than the things I thought I couldn’t have.

When I did get my hands on pizza, ice cream and wine after queueing outsite Tesco for an hour-and-a-half, I started something that I’ve only just been able to stop.

This last year has most definitely made me more sensitive to this mode of thinking. Every week since Christmas I’ve decided, right, this is the last weekend I eat crap, truly believing it would be the last time I did it. And every single weekend I lasted, ooh, about half a day before I broke. Soooooo much money spent on food and alcohol (especially the impulse buys ordered via Uber for twice the price of the supermarket) over the last 12 months, it brings me out in a cold sweat. It’s done now though. I can’t take it back.

There’s another element to it. When I tried to get back on track I started feeling guilty for every single morsel that passed my lips. Even vegetables. I felt like I was being greedy going back to my old portion sizes (despite losing weight very successfully whilst easting them), and that I was broken now and I’d never be able to lose weight again. So I restricted myself too much, and the result of that was a corresponding binge. Am I really the same person who has lost seven stone SEVERAL TIMES OVER? Sometimes I wonder, because it seems I have to relearn the same lessons every. single. time.

The only way to get out of this pattern was to grit my teeth and get on with it. I had the feeling I needed to get through a single weekend without any blips, so I ate nice big portions of healthy food. The result was that, despite me being ‘greedy’, I actually ate less food overall. Success!

I managed to resist the thoughts trying to sabotage me into ordering takeaway, even when the intoxicating scent of a barbecue came wafting into the garden on Easter Sunday. I so love barbecues, which of course can be done quite healthily, but I just know it wouldn’t be five minutes before I started eating whole blocks of halloumi to myself.

The next morning, feeling quite smug, I got up early to meet a friend for a walk. We did six miles in total, and since I’m feeling so determined I got him to take a ‘before’ picture of me. I’d been too ashamed to do it until now.

That look on my face is because my balance is awful and that stump is taller than it looks, but I’m happy to say I made it through the photo shoot without any injuries. When I got in it did feel like I had a mild case of hypothermia, as despite it being gloriously warm and sunny on Sunday, on Monday we had snow. Of course we did. Damn British weather.

Going for walks is definitely getting easier already. I’m still a bit self-conscious, but the physical act of getting round my old routes is becoming a lot more manageable already. I’m surprised at the level of fitness I’ve kept, probably because I’m so active at work and in the garden. It’s just the hills that are a killer – on one particularly evil hill I’m having to stop half way up to catch my breath whereas before I could do it in one, but I’m already excited to report back when I’m back on top form. I don’t think it’ll be too long.

Spring is doing lots of springing in the woods right now, and I’m feeling rather pleased with myself that I’ve managed to indentify a load of stuff off the top of my head that I’d never heard of this time last year. Sweet violets, dog violets, anemones, cow parsley, cowslips, greater stitchwort, lesser celandine, ground ivy… every time I go there’s something new.

The following plant I came across on Sunday, but it wasn’t one I recognised. It did however look a bit iris-ey so when I got home I looked it up.

A strong contender for the plant was the stinking iris (see, I was on the right track) which is also known as a roast-beef plant. So-called because if you crush the leaves it apparently smells like beef. I saw another one on my Monday walk, so picked a leaf and crushed it between my fingers. It only bloody smells like beef! I asked my friend what he thought and he immediately said it smelled like an Oxo cube. How weird!

There was no walk today but I’ve been out working hard in the garden. One raised bed has been assembled, with a net thing that goes over it.

This is where the stuff that’s especially tasty to bugs will live – the cauliflower, broccoli and (if I’m not too late) cabbages. As I write it’s started snowing again, so who knows when I’ll actually be able to start planting stuff out.

Not yet is all I can say.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x