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

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