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

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

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
2016
2017
2018
2020
2021
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

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