Lazy Bones

So far this week I’ve done less steps over seven days than I did in just the Monday of the week before. I know I’ve been chilling out but that is just ridiculous! It also goes a little way to explaining how, according my scales, I have now gained THIRTEEN POUNDS since the 27th of November. That’s a pound a day!

I’m now regretting saying that I’ll definitely go to group on Tuesday in my last post, but I’m still going. A couple at group I’ve known from my Slimming World days in 2012 have been on holiday to Lapland, and they always have enormous holiday gains. So if nothing else I’ll make them feel better (or at least show them how it’s done!)

Perhaps I’ll also make other people feel better if they’ve had a couple of pound gains here and there from work Christmas parties and the like. Then next week I’ll (hopefully) show them that even when you’ve gained almost an ENTIRE STONE you can make a significant difference in just seven days. Hopefully.

Today I’ve been hungry, and I’ve massively overeaten. Before lunch I could feel some intense cravings coming on, and I ended up eating an entire packet of Linda McCartney red onion and rosemary sausages. They are free, and I’ve lost weight eating those kind of volumes at a similar weight to what I am now, but it still feels wrong. Greedy, even. Having said that, they did the job and I’m still not hungry now. If I feel I need a dinner later I’m going to roast a (speedy) butternut squash and have it with some salad. I’m well within my syns, so I should actually be okay. I still feel guilty though.

I just have everything crossed that some of the bloating comes off before Tuesday evening. Because despite everything I’ve just said, I still don’t want to go and face that kind of gain. It’s no one’s fault but my own though. When will you learn Hayley?!

Last night was my one solitary night in work before I’m off for nine, yes nine days of guilt-free and all being well illness-free holiday. Because I’d been off sick I had to drag myself in for that one day otherwise all of my holiday would go down as sickness and I’d have to get a doctor’s note to explain my absence. Which I wouldn’t even be able to do because I’d long be back at work before even getting an appointment!

Thankfully there wasn’t much actually work to be done and I got away a couple of hours early. My alarm went off in the morning to make sure I don’t make Pea wait for her breakfast, and when I pulled back the curtains I was greeted with a veritable winter wonderland!

I quickly got Pea’s breakfast sorted then wrapped up in my work gear then went out into the garden to take pictures.

I’ve been raving about the work salopettes I got this year, because even out in the snow I was actually breaking out in a sweat. Perhaps I shouldn’t have worn my winter coat on top of everything else…

IMG_3156After rushing around before my camera got too wet, I took some more birdy pictures from indoors. The robin looks all the more festive in the snow!

I can remember the last time we had this much snow round our way – it was 2008 – and I got home from work at 3am so I could make a snowman in the back garden. I don’t remember the last time it snowed in December though. How exciting!

This afternoon I sat down with my mum, brother and Pea to watch The Santa Claus and do Christmas crafts, and it was lovely. Pea seems to be enjoying Christmas films weirdly – she’s has chattered all the way through every single one we’ve watched. I think it must be the music that she likes.

Tomorrow I have the dentist for my filling (yep, I’m dreading that) then I’m free to only do enjoyable things for the rest of the week. Just gotta get that one damn thing out of the way first…

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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Perkier

This morning I woke up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep. The whole reason behind it was that my mojo unexpectedly came back, and I’m so pleased to see it that I’m not going to complain about the less-than-ideal timing.

I am so excited for the future, the only way I could calm my thoughts was to get up, make a cup of tea and jot down a list of things to do and things I’m looking forward to.

Me and my brother have started planning our annual holiday already. At the end of May we’re climbing Scafell Pike, hiking in the Isle of Skye, climbing Ben Nevis, and and some point fitting in some sleep. That part’s not a huge priority though.

A friend of mine has been talking a lot about the universe being on his side lately, and I had a similar feeling today. One thing I’m going to need is new hiking boots, because mine pinch the big toe on one foot if I do too much ‘going down hills’. Going down Snowdon this year it did give me some jip, so I need to do something about that.

As I opened Facebook today the first thing I saw was a brand new post from a vegan site I read – all about vegan friendly hiking boots! They have contacted a whole shedload of companies to ask about everything from the glue they use to their working practices, and have compiled a nice list so I can choose a pair without it being a huge headache. How awesome is that?

The only spanner in the works is the price, which is a fair one considering the quality of the boots and the fact that a lot of work has gone into making them eco-friendly, but I’ll have to start saving now. I almost, almost bought them anyway (I still have an emergency overdraft) but I stopped myself just in time. Needing something for the end of May cannot be considered an emergency!

The thing that’s really getting me going is that fact that I’ll be at target by the time we go. Going up Snowdon last May I felt fantastic, but when I saw the pictures of me and my brother’s Gopro footage I must admit that my heart sank just a tad. I was two stone heavier then than I am now, so I know I look a lot different already, it’ll just be that extra bit special this time around. Even if we aren’t so lucky with the weather. Look at that gorgeous sky!!!

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I was also itching to get back on plan this morning as I’m feeling a lot better. I can breathe through both nostrils at the same time and the only thing ‘bothering’ me now is a tickly cough. I can take a tickly cough all day long, it’s nothing compared to a blocked up nose! At lunch I settled down to read Harry Potter (it always makes me feel Christmassy) and a ginormous bowl of thick, silky, syn free, cauliflower soup. Yum!

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I even felt well enough to get out in the garden to take some pictures, but I’ve got to admit these pictures of some of our visitors were taken through the window. They’re a bit shy you see!

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Now let’s see how much of my latest gain I can get off before Christmas! I’ve put on about ten pounds (according to my scales) which is a fair consequence of the way I’ve been eating. I don’t feel bad about it as such, but I’m still going to skip group on Tuesday if I’m showing a gain of over 7lbs. It’s normally quick on/quick off with me though so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I end up going. We’ll see. Either way, I’m going to stay on plan now until Christmas Eve.

Everything is pretty much back to normal now (at least as normal as it ever gets) so I can get back to being festive in peace!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

PS Scratch that. I’m going to group anyway to face the music, no matter what happens. It’s time to start doing things properly again!

Sevens

It’s been something of an eventful week so far, and it’s only Wednesday! I don’t remember how long ago it was now that arrangements were made for me to meet a fellow blogger (this awesome dude here) but it was certainly a while ago. At the time it seemed like a perfectly natural thing to do. I’d estimate that I’ve been reading his blog for about a year now, and what with regular snapshots into another person’s life and the odd comment becoming the odd conversation becoming a proper (albeit online) friendship, I completely forgot that I’m ridiculously shy and that my default setting is to avoid meeting new people at any cost.

I remembered this fact a few days before we were due to meet, and thought I’d warn him incase (at least initially) I struggled to come out of my shell like the social tortoise that I am. Then I put it out of my mind, and early Monday morning I managed to make the two-hour-something car journey in a state of relative calm.

I needn’t have worried at all though, because after an entire day of hopping from parks to coffee shops to charity shops and back again, it was clear that I wasn’t meeting a ‘new person’ at all, it is just a lot easier to have a conversation with a good friend when you can see them in person, rather than having to type everything out!

It also helps when that friend is a complete chatterbox, but a chatterbox who actually has something to say rather than someone who just fills the silence for the sake of it. As such I came away from the experience feeling kind of… nourished. There aren’t many people within a 100 mile radius of me who are on the same wavelength (I can count them on one hand) so to meet up with someone who just gets it was simply brilliant. We went to Harvester for dinner and there was no ‘oh let’s just have what we want and screw the diet’ but a healthy dose of ‘look how much salad I can fit on this plate’. It was a Free Food feast!

According to my Fitbit I walked about 15 miles in that one day, but when you combine that with an epic natter then believe me, you don’t even realise you’re exercising. It was my first experience of having an official Twalk™ and I know it won’t be my last.

I was treated to a tour of my friend’s local haunts, and at first I did get my camera out but as the conversation got into full swing it ended up being forgotten about. Eventually it found its way back into my bag without me quite realising it. This is no bad thing of course, it just goes to show how absorbed I was because normally I’m always thinking about what would make an interesting photo.

It just goes to show though – look at the cool stuff that can happen if you put aside the things you think you know about yourself. Am I really that shy these days? I think not. What other assumptions am I making about myself that simply aren’t true any more? I’m sure there will be more revelations as time goes on.

When I got home the next day I spent several hours with a very sulky Pea on my shoulder. My brother looked after her, which she normally enjoys, but she’s been in a bit of a mood lately and only Hayley would do. Well it’s nice to be wanted!

In the evening I toddled off to group to find out how I’ve done this week. I hadn’t weighed in officially for a couple of weeks, but I had entered my home weigh-ins into the app because I have a complete record of my weekly weight from August 2015 so I can’t be having gaps now!

It was a bit of shocker – I lost SEVEN POUNDS and got my SEVEN STONE AWARD!

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Initially my Christmas goal was to get into the 13 stones, and even though I’m 14 stone 3.5 lbs now and it’s doable, I changed my goal to getting this award because I didn’t want to feel bad for not achieving the first one. Although it’s within the realms of possibility, I have a lot going on over the next couple of weeks so if I can just maintain the weight I am now I’ll be very happy indeed. I’ll keep trying though, I just don’t want to pile on the pressure too much.

Next Tuesday I’m not weighing in because in the afternoon I’m taking my mum to a hospital appointment, then a little bit later I’m going to give blood. What with having to go to work later as well, I think it would just be too much to do in one day. On Sunday I’m out with my sister and naughty food will be had, so I have to stay extra focused during the in between times. The past week shows that I am absolutely capable of doing that, and I’m not even grudgingly on plan as I sometimes am. I’m damn well enjoying it again! I keep trying to find the balance between food-orientated social events and not backtracking and undoing everything I’ve achieved so far. I feel that I’m actually getting there!

On that note it’s time to prepare a perfectly on-plan and delicious dinner before work.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Rescue

One of my pledges this week was to move more, and that I have done. At work Wednesday night I was put on a job that I really dislike doing, because it’s soul-destroyingly boring. Luckily for me (though not so lucky for the people it happened to) the area I was working in is upstairs so we have to take pallets up in the lift, but they’re always breaking down and in the last couple of weeks people have spent hours trapped inside. So now we aren’t allowed to go up in the lifts, and another person downstairs sends them up to us all night.

The lucky part, besides not having to spend hours trapped in a confined space, is that there wasn’t a huge amount to do. I had to keep flitting between different jobs which meant going up and down the stairs. All six flights of them! On an ordinary work day I do about 6,000 steps, but that night I did 19,000. Plus I did extra steps at home and ended on 24,400. THAT’S more like it! I also burned over 4,000 calories, and it’s only the third time (since losing weight, anyway) that I’ve managed that since climbing Snowdon in May.

At the beginning of the week it was looking to be the most dreadful one ever in terms of steps done and calories burned, but I’ve completely turned it around and now I’m ahead of the minimum targets I set myself. Way ahead in fact!

Last night I was put on a reasonably active job again, so I’m wondering if I won’t be quite so lucky tonight and I’ll end up sitting on my behind all night. If I do I’ll just have to make up for it when I get home, because I’m absolutely determined that this week will be excellent. 

The best thing about work last night was that at around 5am I found a ladybird on a pallet that was 11.5 meters up in the air. At first I thought he was dead, because he didn’t move when I picked him up, but I decided to put him on my truck anyway. Once I started driving around he perked right up, so I kept an eye on him until home time then stowed him away in my bag. I called him Fernando, and my colleagues now think I’m completely and utterly insane.

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He stayed with me all the way home, and only made his escape into our jungle of a front garden when I opened the car door.

Goodbye Fernando, may you live a long and happy life! Hopefully you didn’t get eaten by the great tits I saw out there this morning…

Well that’s it from me, because nothing much else has been going on and I could probably do with nap (there’s rarely a moment where I’m not thinking about napping).

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Races and Light Shows

A while ago Fitbit added a feature to their app where you can virtually walk along famous trails and races. When you get to each checkpoint you get to see a photo of what the view is like. It’s pretty cool, and fun to see how long it takes you to complete, but they’ve recently updated it so that you can race with people. Now that is cool. I’m currently in two races in Yosemite National Park – I was in the lead in both but I’m trailing behind so I need to get my butt into gear.

By the way I now have some serious hiking aspirations after seeing some of those views. The only thing that the puts me off is the sheer scale of the place (my mum was freaking out over the prospect of me falling down Snowdon, imagine how far away from help you’d be in this national park…) and the fact that there are other things that want to kill you, i.e. bears and stuff. But if I ever get around to doing it, it’ll be years from now and hopefully I’ll give less of a damn about what could go wrong. And I’d have a proper guide too, I’m not that mad!

The reason I’ve lagged so far behind in the races is that I spent the morning cooking, then I had lunch, spent some time with Pea, then I needed a nap. I’ve had a nap every day this week I think, but I’m allowing myself that because it will help me get back into a night shift pattern. That’s my excuse anyway!

Today I made an absolutely delicious mushroom orzotto (a risotto using orzo instead of rice) inspired by a recipe a nice lady posted in a vegan group on Facebook. I made a mountain of it too. I used a packet of frozen mushrooms, a punnet of fresh forestiere mushrooms (a fancy variety from Tesco) a grated courgette, a grated carrot, garlic, a mushroom stock cube and half a pack of orzo. You could say it’s fairly mushroomy. It’s so simple but really rich in flavour – in fact it’s so simple that I won’t write out a recipe. It’s just one of those bung-it-all-in-a-saucepan-and-job-done meals.

I had a very small portion as a pre-lunch snack. I’m out tomorrow with my brother on one of our adventures so I’m saving the rest for lunch on the go. As it happens I’m also starting to collect odds and ends to make my own vegetable stock. It seems that every variety of stock cube I buy is just more salty than having any particular flavour, so after seeing a short video about how to cut down on food waste I thought I’d give it a go. All of your veggie odds and ends get added to a ziplock freezer bag until it’s full, then you make the stock. What you don’t use you can freeze in ice cube trays, then you start again. Perfect!

After I’d finished my orzotto there was a first for me – I finally got around to trying jackfruit. You buy it in a tin, and I was a bit freaked out by the look of it at first. Veggies and vegans use it as a meat substitute, especially for things like pulled pork, and it’s eerily meaty to touch.

Not to be deterred I smothered it in jerk seasoning and lime juice while I prepared my chips and salad.

It looks much more appetising now! I cooked it in a frying pan (with Fry Light) for about twenty minutes, which I’m not sure is right but it didn’t kill me so I’m assuming it’s OK. Because I wanted to keep it low-syn I tried using just the jerk seasoning but it definitely needed something else, so I added two tablespoons of BBQ sauce for two syns. The jackfruit itself was two-and-a-half syns so my meal worked out less syns than a packet of Linda McCartney pulled chicken, but was probably more expensive in the long run. I don’t remember how much the jackfruit was but I bought it from Amazon. Individual items like that are not normally very cheap at all.

Last night I was treated to a very rare light show. Normally when there’s a storm I’m at work and miss the whole thing, but last night I was home and awake. So I used the slo-mo feature on my phone to see if I could capture anything. I got a couple of strikes before it died down again.

Another reason I was pleased to be home is that Pea was frightened. She’s not bothered by thunder or lightning, but when it started to hail so pooped her little green pants. Parrotlets don’t have very good night vision, so if she panics she’ll just flail around the cage and possibly hurt herself. So I put the light on and calmed her down a bit. Poor little bird!

Anyway here’s a little video of some slo-mo lightning:

You’ve got to love modern technology!

Right then, I’d better get moving (story of my life…)

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Indoor and Outdoor Pursuits

I’m a big believer in printing out your photos. I have all of mine backed up on two separate hard drives, on two separate ‘clouds’, and I still think they should be printed out just in case. Plus there’s nothing quite like leafing through a proper photo album in my opinion. It’s a big job though, one that I always say I’ll keep on top of and one that I never do. As a result practically the whole of yesterday morning was spent re-editing two month’s worth of photos, as they need to be lightened slightly for the printers I use. Once that was done I used Photoshop to stitch together all of the portrait-oriented photos into pairs so that they will fit nicely into my Becky Higgins photo wallets, and sent my order off.

Then all of the afternoon was taken up with the messy part. All of the photos that don’t make the grade for my posh photo album go into more of a scrapbook style album that my brother bought me years ago. This was the floor yesterday:

What doesn’t help is that I have decided I prefer rounded corners, so every photo has to be cornerised using my corner contraption. Then finally it’s neatly glued into the album using double-sided sticky dots. With this album nothing is in order and anything goes, but with my main album I like to keep each page to some sort of theme.

The end result is always worth the hassle, and it’s not so bad with Pea perched on my shoulder watching what I’m doing. Everything’s better when you do it with a friend! Because all of this was so time consuming I knew there was no way I’d do 20,000 steps, but luckily I was 9,000 ahead so I didn’t have to worry too much. I also did 40 minutes on the exercise bike and just scraped a 3000 calorie burn for the day. Since I was already feeling indoorsy, I took the opportunity to get my teeth into some comics kindly donated by a most awesome friend. Let’s just say I’m not going to be struggling for something to fill my time with for the next ten years or so!

Today started off outdoorsy, although I wasn’t feeling it at all. I knew I just had to get out there though, my goals aren’t going to achieve themselves after all. I usually like to walk to my chosen spot, to get extra steps in where possible, but I’m getting a bit bored with my usual haunts. So I opened Google maps and just decided to go anywhere vaguely interesting within a short drive. I finally settled on Thurrock Thameside Nature Reserve, the visitor centre of which is charmingly built on top of an old landfill site. I remembered going here as a kid and being utterly bored, but I think a helluva lot of work has been done since then.

There are two car parks at the reserve, so I chose the one farthest away from the visitor centre (all the better to get my steps in) and started on my merry way. The weather was absolutely lovely – really sunny, hardly a cloud in the sky, a refreshing breeze… so of course it figures that I forgot my hat and suncream. Thankfully it clouded over later so I didn’t get burnt to an absolute crisp. I was a bit worried that it’d be really busy, but I hardly saw another soul. That’s right up my street, I just love peace and quiet. I saw some interesting birds but I couldn’t tell what they were, and I couldn’t photograph them because I limited myself to one lens today. My shoulders are still killing me from my last outing so I decided to travel light. Trust me to make the wrong decision! I’ll go back soon though to investigate further.

I watched a small murmuration of starlings for a while, which was pretty cool. When they were perching they were noisy as anything, then all of a sudden it would go quiet all at once and off they went. As soon as they landed again it was back to normal.

I went to the visitor centre for a map because I wasn’t sure where to start, but it turns out there’s only one path and it isn’t a circular walk. That’s a little irritating for me, I prefer to return a different way wherever I go, but the chap I spoke to assured me that they are acquiring a huge area of land next to what they already have and will be expanding soon. So that’s good to hear!

I really loved this art work from a local school, made with an old pallet. I would have loved doing that when I was a kid. Well I’d love doing it now if I’m honest!

It was a really nice, peaceful little walk, and I’ll definitely be returning in the future. Especially as they have interesting winter birds, or so I’ve been told. My walk wasn’t very long, so I’m only half way towards my 20k step goal, but the day isn’t over yet. Plus later me and a friend are going to pick up a bed for my mum from an aunt, so there’s a bit of heavy lifting that’ll keep the calories burning.

I think that’s it for today then. I’m just trying to update more regularly because I’m sure it’ll help keep me on the straight and narrow. I’m doing everything I can to get an awesome loss next week!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Last Supper

Since I’ve been blogging somewhat sporadically/practicing self-denial/sleeping for England I haven’t been quite as open about my current situation as I normally am. That wasn’t a conscious decision at all – I’ve been hiding from myself rather than anyone else. As August comes to an end and I haven’t achieved much at all of what I set out to do, it’s time for one of those famous fresh starts.

Yesterday I was in London with my brother, sister, and my sister’s boyfriend. The main purpose of our trip was to visit What the Pitta at Boxpark in Shoreditch, and I must admit to there being something of a having-a-blow-out-before-getting-back-on-plan agenda. I’ve never been to Boxpark before and hadn’t Googled it beforehand, so I was surprised to see that it’s a trendy, modern establishment consisting of several small business each operating out of a stacked shipping container. There must be about twenty different shops all crammed into one street corner. It’s awesome!

There are certain foods that I thought would never be recreated now I’m vegan, and doner kebab was right at the top of that list. But I was oh so very wrong, because yesterday I had the best meal I’ve ever had in my entire life ever. I don’t even know what it’s made out of exactly, but What the Pitta’s version of a doner kebab is just heaven on earth. They start of with this enormous yet light and fluffy warm flatbread, which they smear with hummus and then fill to the brim with an absolute mountain of salad (they’re not stingy at all), and whatever the meat substitute actually is, and then drizzle it with some sort of dairy free minty dressing. Oh my goodness it’s so savoury and delicious and approximately the size of a toddler!

Now although the actual doner is no doubt full of goodness, as part of a calorie controlled diet it’s not going to be helping in the slightest. I’d be very surprised if there was less than a thousand calories in that bad boy. Although yesterday I did a very respectable 21,000 steps I still managed to eat my way into a 7.5 lbs gain this week. That’s on top of the 4lbs I gained last week. But I’m still very, very positive. I’ve been searching for some delicious food that’s going to satisfy a craving and that kebab was it. If tomorrow I feel like eating something naughty, I’m going to ask myself if it will even come close, and it won’t, so what will be the point?

Today I’ve been on plan, haven’t had any cravings, and haven’t felt resentful even once. I’m jumping back in with both feet and even though right now I’m back in the 16 stones (16 st 1.5 lbs to be exact) I’m going to be in the 14’s before I know it. I want all of my gains off by the end of the month, which means I need to lose one stone and half a pound. I can do that, it’s actually possible!

After doner kebab naughtiness we all walked to Hackney in the blistering heat, and of course us being us instead of going somewhere, well, Londony, we managed to stumble across a farm right slap bang in the middle of the city. All these people visiting the Natural History Museum and the Portrait Gallery and the Cutty Sark and Trafalgar Square don’t even know what they’re missing, not to mention the fact that Notting Hill Carnival was on! This was actually a godsend because where everyone was off partying in the street the rest of the city was virtually empty so we didn’t have crowds of people to contend with.

This morning I woke up absolutely raring to get going with the healthy eating, and I also fancied something a bit different for breakfast so I had 14 cashew nuts as my Healthy Extra B choice. I wasn’t all that hungry, so soon after I packed my bag and got going on a long walk to a nearby (but not too nearby) high street. When I got there about an hour and half later, I remembered I needed some jars because I want to make my own pickled red cabbage, so I picked some up in the pound shop (not thinking about how much weight they’d add to the several pounds worth of photographic equipment I already had in my bag) picked up some fresh fruit from Waitrose (new season cherries, yum! And my favourite nectarines of course) and thought about heading back. But I remembered that there’s a park nearby so I quickly had a look to see how far it was. Only another half an hours walk! Well, it’d be a shame not to.

This park has a café, lakes, a boathouse, a statue (I couldn’t find it though) a playground, a pavilion (again, couldn’t see it!) but what I didn’t factor in is the school holidays. Tt was absolutely rammed with people! It was nice that there were so many families out and about but I decided not to stay long. I ate some fruit, got a shot of a moorhen and a young coot, then headed back. It’s not a route I’ll take again in a hurry, because most of the travelling is done next to a very long and very busy main road. The noise started to do my head in by the time I was on my way home, and although I’m getting the health benefits of walking I wonder how much of that is negated by all of the traffic fumes I’m breathing in!

I did what I set out to do though, and I’m currently ahead of schedule with another 28,000 steps today. So far.

I’ve just eaten an enormous pile of completely made up red split lentil pasta bolognese, and I’m feeling like everything is right with the world. The only thing that could cause a problem is those inevetable back-on-plan parps. To my family (even though you don’t read my blog) I am so, so sorry!

To everyone else, thank you for reading!

Hayley x

Hatfield Forest

Today I was up before the crack of dawn, at 3:50 to be precise, and out the door shortly after. Me and my brother wanted to go to Hatfield Forest, because it’s not too far away and we’ve never been before. We both like getting to places while they’re still empty, and I had my fingers crossed for some nice morning light. I did my research (I do that before I go anywhere because I like to be prepared) and discovered that one of the car parks is open from ‘dusk till dawn’, that you pay at a machine, and that the actual park is open 24 hours. But when we got there, there was a cover over the machine saying ‘Please Pay at Kiosk’, which doesn’t open until 9am or 10am, depending on which sign you read. I have a thing where I freak out if I get in trouble or get told off, so if I was on my own I probably would have turned around and gone home. But as my little bro was with me we decided to go into the park and come back later to pay when the kiosk was open. Which I didn’t like, but was actually a completely reasonable course of action.

When we got into the park we walked for about twenty minutes before we came to an internal car park, that we couldn’t get to by car because the gate to it was locked. But there was a pay & display machine. So I bought a ticket and walked it all the way back to the car. Because that’s how much of a stickler for the rules I am! Ridiculous, I know, but it allowed me to enjoy the rest of our walk with a clean conscience.

As you enter Hatfield Forest (on foot at least) the first part is a long road interspersed with plenty of cows and plenty of cow poop. I was also provided with some of that morning light I’d been hoping for. There was morning dew on everything and although I hate the word when it’s applied to food or people, I have to say that it was lush.

The thing about Hatfield Forest is that although it is huge, and has loads of really old trees (which is wonderful) it’s just not all that exciting and doesn’t seem to have much character. It’s lovely that there are so many trees being looked after, it was just more of a strolling around kind of place, rather than an exploring kind of place, which given its size (about four times the size of my local nature reserve) I was a little disappointed with. I’m maybe being a little harsh – I did enjoy the greenness and freshness of it all – I think maybe I just need more excitement after some of the cool places I’ve visited this year (Snowdon, I’m looking at you…) I still got a couple of really nice shots though, and as of right now I’m on a very respectable 22,500 steps.

I’ve had something of a meltdown the last few days and have done so much damage to my diet. I’ve completely gone off all of the usual foods I eat and feel sick at the thought of eating them. I’d just like to get it out there that no, I’m not pregnant, unless the next baby Jesus is on his way!

I need to swear now, because when I’m passionate about things my language gets filthy. You’ve had fair warning!

I might fuck up but I will never give up. The last few months have seen a succession of monumental fuck-ups as far as my diet is concerned, and I’m desperate to get my positive head back on. On the 28th I’m going out for vegan treats in London with my brother and sister, so from tomorrow until then I need to be 100% on plan. And I need to get straight back on it as soon as I get on the train home. I say this every time I have something like this planned, and every time I mess up. I’d really love it if I could post here when I get home that I did what I said I was going to do. This time is the one!

I also made a promise that I was going to do an average of 20,000 steps a day this week, but over the last couple of days I’ve got really behind. By the end of tomorrow I need to do 33,000 steps if I’m going to achieve my goal. There’s a huge part of me, the part that’s currently winning over happy Hayley, that questions what the point is when my weight has shot through the roof. It’s counter-intuitive, because any extra activity is going to help. Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand of course, but one can still be done without the other! Still, she’s practically screaming at me – why bother? I’m going to ignore her though, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

I’m giving myself two weeks, and if my mood hasn’t improved then I’m getting myself straight back to the doctor because although there’s plenty of things I can do to help, I don’t think I can fix the way I’m feeling by myself. It won’t stop me trying though.

I’ll say it again – I’ll fuck up, but I’ll never give up

Thank you for reading, and many apologies for the potty mouth…

Hayley x

An Incontinence of Yellowlegs

After getting a healthy dose of inspiration from my favourite blogger, this week I have decided to do 20,000 steps per day. This is only feasible because I’m not at work, and it’s good I’m actually sticking to it because it may negate a fraction of the extra calories I’ve consumed. But I’ll get back to that later.

Monday I got up bright and early and took a stroll into town via the nearest (normally a bit dodgy) park. As all of the schools are now on holiday there were more people about and I felt a little bit safer, so that was nice. I saw not one but two grey herons, but they flew off before I got a chance to photograph them.

I did a couple of laps of the lake, apologised to the geese for not feeding them, then hit the shops. I decided to explore the places in town where I don’t normally go, and I discovered that we have two St Luke’s Hospice charity shops. One is tiny and absolutely crammed to the brim with stuff, and the other is huge with not much in it. I think someone’s missing a trick there! I nearly bought a doll’s house for a fiver until I realised that I am a grown up and also that I’d have to carry it around with me.

I went in all the other charity shops and nothing really grabbed me but I did discover that the best items appear to be donated to the British Heart Foundation. There was a lovely dress in there that would have fit me, but it was too nice and I wouldn’t have had any occasion to wear it. I’ll be keeping my beady eye on that shop though.

I didn’t leave town empty handed – I found that there is a fruit and veg stall – and the man sold me okra (the supermarkets never have any) and four delicious nectarines (which are fast becoming my favourite fruit). I also bought two tops from H&M, which is a massive deal for me because I’ve never been able to fit in anything from H&M! Their sizes are infamously all over the shop, but I’m pleased with that all the same!

On the way home I stopped to drink my traditional cold brew, the geese had the last of my bag of porridge oats, and I took a couple of  snaps to show just how many geese there actually are. These photos were taken seconds apart – it’s not the same geese in both shots, there really are that many geese.

Yesterday was not so exciting. I walked to the hospital for my blood test appointment, and I’m glad I went to the doctors now because something is definitely not right. My food cravings have come back with a vengeance and I’m ashamed to say I have given into them. It seems to me there’s more to it than a lack of willpower. I feel… kind of empty. Even with my family I feel like I’m going through the motions, saying the right things, smiling when it’s appropriate, but I’m not feeling much at all deep down. If it were up to me I’d like to be completely alone and in complete silence. When I wake up in the morning, even after a decent sleep, I’m tired again after an hour. So yeah, something’s up, I’m sure it’s psychological, and I’m frightened. Because this isn’t me. I have down days like everyone else but the bit where I come out of the other side doesn’t seem to be happening, and I don’t really know what to do. I should have sought advice yesterday, but my thoughts only really came together today. Even then they’re not very coherent! I don’t know… I think that I need to keep plodding on then one day out of the blue I’ll wake up feeling awesome again! It’s just keeping those damn cravings at bay in the meantime that is the hardest part.

My plans for today were to get up early and go to Aldi and Farmfoods because they get absurdly busy and there’s no way I’m setting foot in either of them after 9am. But after 8 hours sleep I was still tired so I went back to bed for another two. After me and Pea had breakfasted together instead of doing some boring old shopping I walked to the nature reserve, getting 18,000 steps while I was at it.

As I arrived I saw a group of swifts, so I sat down on a bench to find out what the collective noun for them is. Then I got a little sidetracked, because the whole deal of collective nouns for birds is insane! Some species have several, and some have a different noun depending on what they are doing. If geese are on land they’re a gaggle, in flight they are a skein, and flying in a ‘v’ they are a chevron of geese. If a ducks are on land they are a safe of ducks, on water a paddling or a raft, when diving they are a dopping, or when in flight they are a plump! How could anyone possibly remember all that? My favourite has to be the title of this post though – an incontinence of yellowlegs. Who even thinks these up I ask you? I nearly forgot about the swifts again. Their collective noun is a box, a drift, a screaming frenzy (???) or a swoop. I think I prefer swoop personally.

Apart from swifts and crows there wasn’t much bird life about, but I need see two randy horses, an inquisitive pig, and plenty of mushrooms. I have a guide to British Mushrooms & Toadstools, and so far I don’t think I’ve been able to successfully identify a single species.

There was more to this post, but WordPress kindly deleted it somehow so goodness knows what I wrote. I don’t think I could have had a huge amount left to say, apart from the fact that I hopefully have a friend visiting later and I’m out visiting my sister tomorrow (as well as somehow getting my steps in too). The gist of it was that I will just keep on swimming. I’ll get there in the end!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

PS – Oh, there was something important! And I wrote a huge paragraph about it. The fungus that looks like something that’s burnt? Well I’d just love to know what that is but so far my book and the internet has failed me. At first I wasn’t even sure it was a fungus, but as I looked closer I could see it had pores and was definitely a living thing. Curiosity got the better of me and I carefully used a twig to have a peek underneath. The smell of rotten fish was almost overpowering, it was all gooey, there were maggots in there, and something bright, bright yellow. It was really weird! Hopefully one day I’ll come across something and figure out what it is. Until then… it’s a mystery…

Not Quite Forgotten

Today the universe conspired to dig out a little memory that had been buried beneath 20 or so years of accumulated rubbish. It may never have resurfaced if it wasn't for today's meaningless chain of events. My brother asked me to drive him to the tip, or whatever fancy name they give it these days, to dispose of some oil. And whilst it's normally quiet there, the good weather must have fried everyone's brains and there was an enormous queue to get in. As we were stuck stationary for a good 15 minutes my eyes started to wander and I spotted an animal sanctuary that I didn't know was there. Or did I? Suddenly it all came back. When I was little my nan adopted a horse for me, and we used to go and visit him together. I can't for the life of me remember what his name was, but I remember he was black with a white stripe down his face (like a Shire horse, but there's no way he actually was one, he was no way big enough) and I used to get newsletters come through the post telling me how he was getting on.

Once my brother's motorbike oil was safely disposed of we parked up at Wat Tyler Country Park (another blast from the past, I used to go there on trips when I was in infant school) and walked a couple of minutes back down the road to the sanctuary.

It was £2 each to get in, which all goes towards taking care of the animals, so we were happy to pay it. The animals all seemed well looked after, and there was one ecstatic looking little girl grooming one of the horses, which you can buy as an experience gift for someone. I may have to do that myself one day!
If you look closely I'm actually in the last shot. Here it is zoomed in a little:There were also other farmyard animals to see, and one of the goats treated us to a view of him cleverly scratching his butt…
When we got out of the sanctuary all of the traffic had miraculously disappeared, so if we had gone any other time of the day I may never have rediscovered the sanctuary. It scares me to think of what else I've forgotten over the years, but it's also comforting to think that it may not be gone forever.

Although we didn't have a chance to explore as much as we would like we still had a stroll around the park, and took a ride on the miniature railway. It was really fun, but we may have just been getting high from the diesel fumes.

Since being home I've finished four loads of washing which is not very exciting, but it's a job I always leave till I'm down to my last pair of under-crackers so it's not like I could put it off any longer.

And then I made the most AMAZING dinner. When I was still at school I was a huge Manic Street Preachers fan, and I always remember the lead singer, James Dean Bradfield, (I was besotted with him) talking in an interview about his mum putting Marmite on roast potatoes. I always meant to try it, but I didn't get around to it until today (about 15 years after I ceased to be a fan of their music) But better late than never, eh? They were absolutely delicious, especially as I added some rosemary that I foraged from the county park. His mum sadly passed away some years ago, but I like the fact that her life sent out little ripples that are still influencing complete strangers all these years later.

Anyway!

I've been craving mushrooms lately, so I ate two whole packs of the most delicious chestnut mushrooms from Lidl, just cooked simply in Fry Light with an absolutely obscene amount of garlic. Let's just say vampires aren't going to be a problem for the foreseeable future… It was the tastiest meal I've had in ages.
Now I'm feeling wonderfully content it's off to bed for me. All being well I shall be living like a normal awake-in-the-day-sleeping-at-night person for the next few weeks, the prospect of which makes me very, very, happy!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x