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

Sea and City

I’ve got to admit – I’m still not 100% back on plan. I’m not even 10% back on plan! But I will be tomorrow. I’m feeling so much better today, so in typical fashion it’s also (almost) time to go back to work. This is my last night off in fact. There’s nothing like the end of a ‘holiday’ coinciding with the 1st of the month to make you feel like it’s time to go and smash those goals. This is the time it’d be reasonable to be cheesed off, but not for me. I never do things conventionally!

I did feel like I’d wasted my entire week off but when I look back on it, actually I haven’t. As long as we don’t put food into the equation that is.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were dire. My best day was the Sunday where, because I’d been at work until 6am, I actually had some steps under my belt. 8533 steps to be exact. Monday was 1925, Tuesday was 3722 and Wednesday was 1761. If I get less than 70,000 steps over the week then I feel extremely guilty, and even then I still feel like I could have done better. Well I could have! 70,000 is the absolute bare minimum!

So I needed to turn it around. Thursday I had my walk to, around and from the country park (18236 steps), Friday was a rainy walk up a big hill and back (15731 steps), Saturday was the park (16745 steps) and Sunday, well, that was the icing on the cake.

I didn’t realise how super cheap train fares are on a Sunday, so I paid for me and my brother to get the train to Leigh-on-Sea. From there we walked along the coast, passing through Chalkwell, Westcliff-on-Sea and Southend-on-Sea, finally reaching our destination of Shoeburyness. We were gone for a good few hours, mainly because we kept stopping to look at interesting things. The beaches were absolutely teeming with oysters, both alive and long dead, and I was really hoping to see an oystercatcher (the bird, not a fisherman) but it was not to be.

Crabs are actually my biggest phobia, so the photo credit goes to my little brother for this one. I’m fine with them from above, but when you see the underneath… Well… I just did a genuine shudder. I accidentally threw a crab once (when I was young), in the hands-on rock pool bit you get at Sealife centres. I was fine picking it up, but then I turned it over to look and it was one of those purely primal instincts to get the thing as far away from me as possible. I do hope the little guy was OK though, because it wasn’t his fault! This one is carrying another, smaller crab, and I’m hoping they were having (ahem) ‘sexy time’ rather than partaking in crab cannibalism.

It turned out to be an absolutely glorious morning for a walk, as you can see from the pictures. Passing through Southend is always depressing as it’s such a dump of a town. I had to pop to the loo and there are places for you to put your used needles. That’s the kind of town Southend is. But as soon as you’re five minutes away from there it’s beautiful, with quaint little beach huts to rival Brighton and hardly another soul about. 

By the time we got home I was rather pink, rather tired, and rather pleased to have accumulated 28,901 steps. That meant I was over 80,000 for the week, and that’s not bad considering it got off to such a lazy start.

Today was another very bad eating day, but it’s the last one, I absolutely promise! I went to Canterbury with a friend with the intention of going to a vegan pub where all the food and all the drink is totally vegan. I’ve only been vegan for a few weeks and already I can only imagine the joy of being able to go somewhere and just eat something without having to research it thoroughly beforehand. I checked their Facebook page and the week before last, when they were closed for a private function, they let their customers know. But there was nothing for this week so I thought it must be OK. WRONG! Even though online it said they were open, they were in fact closed.

Thankfully Canterbury just happens to be a lovely little city that caters for all sorts, and because of this situation I found a fantastic little pub that I’ll definitely be visiting again, called The Lady Luck. It’s an awesome place – they have regular live music, and I haven’t seen anything live for an age so I just have to go back and see something. The walls are plastered with album covers and artwork, the staff are lovely, and they are so inclusive. There’s something for everyone, and although when my food came out my heart sank just a little, because it didn’t look all that tasty, it was actually bloody lovely! I had a soya burger with tofu bacon, onions, gherkins, fake cheese and fake garlic mayo. It was so nice! Everything about the place just made my heart sing. The day was certainly not wasted!

I took just a couple of snaps of Canterbury, because we were a bit short on time and because I hate going anywhere without recording a memory of it. They’re not going to set the photography world alight, but here they are all the same!

Nothing went exactly as was planned this week, but lessons have been learned and I’m feeling positive about the week ahead. I haven’t forgotten those Long Tall Sally jeans, and I’ll be fitting in them before I know it. Tomorrow the scales are going to show a simply ENORMOUS gain, and the week after that most, if not all of it, will be ancient history.

Thank you for reading,

Hayley x

How are you paying for that?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that when I fall off the wagon, I fall hard. The subsequent gains are usually of epic proportions, and sometimes it takes me a few weeks to get back to where I started. We live in a world where we simply cannot escape the lure of food – it’s absolutely everywhere and available 24/7 – so I’m on a continuous quest to learn how to cope with slipping up, rather than letting it completely derail me.

Yesterday morning I had a breakfast mishap. I was very tired and very hungry when I got in from work, but I knew I had to be up again in two hours to take my mum to a doctor’s appointment. I used this as an excuse to convince myself that I wanted to have a little breakfast treat. I’m still in the transitional period of using up any non-vegan items, so I decided to take the opportunity to get rid of some bits and bobs I had kicking around that contain milk. 20 minutes and about 50 syns later I went to bed, feeling rather guilty.

While I was laying there questioning why on earth I’d just completely sabotaged myself, I realised that I now had a number of options:

  1. I could do what I always do, which is convince myself that since I’ve messed up I might as well spend four days stuffing my face full of all the stuff I fancy before, bloated and disgusted with myself, I have to get back on it.
  2. Draw a line under it and just carry on as if nothing happened, or,
  3. Pay for what I’d done

That sounds a little bit drastic, but hear me out. With everything we do there are consequences. Number 1 is just going to get me further into debt, so obviously that option is out the window. Why it took me so long to see it that way, who can say, but I got there in the end and that’s what matters. With number 2, I’m not making things any worse, but there’s a strong possibility I’m going to charged interest come weigh day! But number 3, now that’s something I’ve never actually tried before.

This week me and my sister have been discussing maintaining weight, which she is doing spectacularly well at right now. But she wants more cake in her life (understandably so) therefore she is taking steps to make that happen. As she is moving closer to me this month, we have agreed that we are going to meet up regularly to exercise. I love her approach right now – she wants more treats, but she’s going to earn some credit before she indulges.

And it was thinking of this that spurred me into action – I decided to earn back the progress I’d lost.

This still isn’t something I want to make a habit of, as unlike my sister I still have problems controlling myself around junk food. When I’m at target I do want to increase my exercise in order to make it easier to stay there, and so I can start adding more healthy fats into my diet like nuts, seeds and avocado. I don’t want to get into a habit of eating rubbish and trying to make up for it afterwards, but right now I feel really good about accepting the consequences of my actions but also taking steps to make up for what I’ve done rather than just sit on my backside and accept my fate.

That evening I ramped up my steps and did twice as many as the previous day, I worked my absolute butt off during my shift, and as soon as I got in at 6am I went straight back out again for 3 hour walk at the local nature reserve. I’ve also just embarked on a 30 day squat challenge and have a step aerobics workout planned for tomorrow. Maybe I will have done enough to avoid a gain/maintain, or maybe I won’t have, but one thing I’ve certainly got rid of is the guilt that normally comes with a slip up, guilt which would be a sure-fire way to make me want to eat more junk. It feels like progress to me, anyhow.

As for the walk I took my camera out but the light was rubbish. There are so many lovely flowers in the gardens at the visitor centre, I can’t help but wonder how much more beautiful they will be with a bit of sunshine! Hopefully I’ll be able to go back there when the weather is nicer, but we’ll have to see. I daren’t go on my own because I have absolutely no sense of direction and will be lost for hours (good for exercise but not so good for getting everything done that I need to) and my brother (or the human compass as he is otherwise known) selfishly has to go back to work tomorrow whereas I am off until Thursday.

There were two major highlights though – seeing a baby coote (it’s a scruffy little creature!) and the one single, solitary, ripe and juicy blackberry in a sea of other completely unripe blackberries that was obviously just waiting for me to come along and eat it. Note to self – get a blackberry bush ASAP.

After the walk I stopped off at Lidl’s to pick up some Guatemalan ground coffee, which I like better than the fancy Tesco Finest one and a posh one from M&S that I tried recently, so now I must be off to get my caffeine fix. The posh coffees were OK, but I like my coffee to be nice and (figuratively) punch me in the face. The Lidl one certainly fits the bill!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Parklife

On Thursday I was thinking to myself how I feel a lot safer in our local park now, and how I should make more trips on my own. I was meeting my brother after he finished work but I left early to have a wander around on my own and to get extra precious steps done. I wasn’t there five minutes before I saw something interesting – a movement caught my eye and I saw what looked like a rat near the lake edge, which scampered away into some reeds when it saw me looking. We have lots of rats in the warehouse where I work and they are a lot darker than the creature I saw, so I checked online and it turns out I was in fact looking at a water vole. I didn’t manage to photograph it because it was just too fast, but I was excited anyway.

I was then lucky enough to see a morehen having a nice swim, and after I took a fairly dreadful photo I moved on in order to do a lap of the lake.

I saw the usual geese, ducks and cootes, but then as I got nearer the other side of the lake I could hear shouting and it sounded very much like the C-word being repeated over and over. As I got closer I realised I was not mistaken, and a clearly drunk man was being urged by some other drunk men to go home. The shouty drunk man was getting more and more aggressive, so once I was a safe distance away I phoned the police. While I was on the phone I stopped to tell a young girl, who was perhaps 9 or 10, not to walk her dog that way. The operator told me they’d send someone out, which seemed reasonable, because the police station is literally a two minute walk from the lake.

I thought about going home and telling my brother to avoid the park, but then I decided that I was not going to be frightened away. So I sat on a bench on the side of the lake opposite shouty man, sent my brother a text telling him which way to come in order to avoid said shouty person, and got my camera out. I just sat taking in the scenery, trying not to pay any attention to the distant cries of the drunk man, and soon enough the appearance of some terns distracted me.

About twenty minutes later my brother arrived, but the police still had not. In fact they didn’t turn up at all, which is rather sad. Eventually the drunk man thankfully went away of his own accord, and as he we saw him in the distance my brother informed me that he’s at the park most evenings, and is always drunk. It seems that the best time to visit this particular park is in the mornings. The only other sighting of note for the rest of the day was one very suspicious duck, swimming in a very, very dirty pond.

After an early night and a lovely sleep I got up at the crack of dawn to go to the hairdressers. I’d been giving it some thought and when I got there I gave my hairdresser (Richard) some rare requests. He usually just suggests things and I agree. This time I wanted it messier, weirder, and with some blue colouring.

3 hours and 40 minutes later…

Oh he did not disappoint! It’s my absolute favourite hair style of all time! He did warn me that the colours may fade pretty quickly, but as the blue fades it should look really nice on its way back to a dark blonde (he had to bleach that section to get the blue to take but it turns out my hair doesn’t respond that well to bleach). The thing I’ve found about Richard’s cuts is that they grow out really well, and as there’s no parting or anything the roots generally don’t show. So even though he’s expensive I do get my money’s worth, I think. And in any case you can’t put a price on how utterly fabulous I feel right now, despite the idiots at work piping up again. One bloke said I look like a Duracell battery, but he said it behind my back so I couldn’t tell him how ridiculous he was being. What a joke!

This morning I went for a walk with my brother straight from work, to try out some new parks nearby. The first one was closed but we could legally park on a nearby road so we went in anyway. It was very, very small, and the ponds had long since dried up, but they do have some beautiful wildflower fields. The main problem was that it’s directly next to a busy A-road. Even in the huge nature reserve near me you can hear the rumble of traffic if you listen hard enough, but this took it to another level. In a way it’s sad, but in another way it’s fantastic that all that wildlife still has a home despite all the traffic. We saw and absolute ton of bugs, birds and butterflies and the birds were extremely vocal the whole time we were there.

The next park we tried was closed too, and there was no possibility of parking nearby at all as it was double yellow lines everywhere. At this point we decided we’d had enough and headed home, but it wasn’t an entirely wasted journey. We now know that we’re not particularly taken by the area and that we’ll venture further afield next time.

My weekend started this morning and although I’m determined not to waste it, if I don’t have a little sleep soon then I’ll be spending the rest of the day resembling a drooling zombie! Therefore I’m not going to toddle off for a much needed nap.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

 

So Close

This blog has been so helpful to me. The amount of times writing a post has helped me to get my thoughts in order is unbelievable. It’s the best kind of therapy! This post started off as something entirely different – I was going to write about how things have been tough at home over the last week and there’s a really horrible atmosphere between all of us, and how I didn’t know what to do about it, but as I was writing I figured out a plan of action. So I went to talk to my mum straight away and got things sorted out. Things are still a little strained, but I’m confident we’ll all be a lot happier in a day or two.

Yesterday was weigh in and boy was it a good one! I was expecting a loss but I had no idea exactly how it was going to go, so I was delighted to find that I’d lost 3.5 lbs. That means I now have less than three stone to go until I reach my target. It’s just unbelievable! At the end of Image Therapy I was getting bit restless and ready to be on my way (the more weight I lose the more I get numb-bum from the chairs) when the consultant announced I got Slimmer of the Week. I was shocked because I haven’t had Slimmer of the Week since I first joined and I just never expected it. So that was a nice surprise. Then she announced Slimmer of the Month, and that was me again! And again I was shocked, but very happy – I especially love having new shiny stickers for my book. Now I have just 3 lbs to go to get my 6 stone award, and I’m going to keep my Speed Food intake up to ensure I get there as soon as possible.

My aim was to get my 6 stone award by the end of July, when I go to visit a friend I haven’t seen in about a year. But I reckon I can do it within 2 weeks, tops. I cannot let anything stand in my way! The best part is that his girlfriend has lost 2 stone doing Slimming World herself, so I know I’m not going to be confronted with any ‘bad’ food when I visit.

Months ago I bought a Wii and a balance board for Wii Fit but then completely forgot about it. But today I actually dug it out and plugged it into the TV. I’m not sure how much it’ll actually help with fitness but it is fun, and doing anything that gets me moving has got to be a good thing. It calculated my fitness age based on my balancing skills and BMI, and currently I have a Wii age of 45 (my real age is 34). It also said my centre of gravity is way to the left and asked if I trip over a lot! No I bloody well don’t thank you very much! I bump into things a lot but that’s another story… Also when it calculated my BMI it made my little Wii Mii fatter which is also very cheeky, but it did make me laugh.

I really did choose the best day when I went on my little walk to town, because it’s pretty much been raining ever since. It’s great for the garden, but not for testing out my new lens because the light has been as flat as a pancake. Here are a few test shots I did but I think I need a tripod because my hands are just too shaky for my biggest lens to date. I’m very happy that I could see enough detail to identify a little bird that lives in a neighbour’s roof as a female house sparrow. Before all I could make out was ‘small bird’.

I was also able to verify that a bird I’d only ever seen flying from a distance is in fact a swift. We have a juvenile blue tit that has been frequenting our apple tree but since I got my lens I haven’t set eyes on the little bugger. When photographing wildlife patience is often required, and it’s really not my strong point!

I’m off work tomorrow so I’m meeting my brother in the park when he finishes work, and hopefully I’ll be able to capture some more interesting things. Then Friday morning it’s time for a new haircut, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m having done. It’ll be as much as surprise for me as anyone else!

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Hayley x

Such a Perfect Day

I had to get up early this morning so obviously I had real trouble sleeping last night, because isn’t that always the way? But I refused to let that stop me making the best of the day.

First stop was ferrying my mum to a 9:00am doctor’s appointment, which I expected to last a lot longer than it did. I was home and out the door again by 9:30am. Result!

I left the car on the drive and walked into the town centre via the park which was just beautiful today. The sky has been amazing the whole day – so many interesting clouds! My mum loves learning about weather and via a book I bought her last year we believe that they were cirrus uncinus, which has streaky bits, and the streaky bits are ice crystals and snow. Yep, it’s been snowing today but it never reached the ground. Bonkers!

Best of all, the park was virtually empty apart from a few seasoned fisher-people, some very loud grasshoppers, plus the birds, bees and butterflies.

 

Once in town I realised I was pretty hungry, and it’s a sign of how healthy my attitude to food is right now that I really, really, really craved a perfectly ripe, juicy nectarine. There is no point buying a ‘perfectly ripe’ anything from Tesco or Asda, because the last supposedly perfectly ripe fruit I bought from either of them could have been used to break a car window. But we have an M&S in town, and if they can’t provide you with a juicy nectarine then no-one can.

I was not disappointed so, craving satisfied, I hit the shops. I went to Hobbycraft to pick up some art supplies, WH Smith to spend a Love2Shop voucher my mum gave me (and being a grown-up I bought some kitty stickers and push pins shaped like buttons), Evans for the only tights I can get that will fit me width-ways as well as length-ways, then it was time for some clothes shopping. I went to Primark but didn’t end up buying anything, but it’s still a huge buzz for me that they sell clothes that fit me at all. I tried on a dress and it was too big. Madness. I tried on a couple of bits in other places but the real highlight was in Next.

Next go up to a size 18, which is the size I am now, and they are the only place I’ve found that does a high waist, long leg jean that might actually fit me. Except you can’t get a size 18 for love nor money. So I tried on a size 16 and they felt really damn good, but sitting down in them would be an impossibility at this stage. Plus if I wear jeans or trousers that are too tight I get violent hiccups! Normally I’d buy them to ‘shrink into’, but they were £48 so I’m not going to be buying any jeans from Next until I’m maintaining my weight. I also saw a top I liked, and again they had the 16 but not the 18 so I thought I’d give it a go. I was delighted to find that it fits, and I’ll be wearing it to weigh in tomorrow, and probably to every weigh in for next six months knowing me! I can sit down in it, it feels really comfortable, it’s long enough which is a rare find for me, and it’s not black… It’s perfect!

Finally I visited Starbucks for a venti (mahoosive) cold brew to sip on the way home.

Again I went home via the park and I saw not one but three dragonflies! I didn’t get a chance to photograph them because they were so fast. I just heard the thrumming of their wings and saw a flash of electric blue. There were also countless butterflies and wild poppies and little yellow flowers everywhere, so I sat down with not a soul in sight to finish my coffee, eat another nectarine and soak up the scenery.

On the way home I decided I wasn’t ready to go indoors yet, so I walked to a nearby church at the top of a nice big hill. It’s about a ten minute walk from my house, it backs onto a little conservation area, it has some beautiful flowers, and despite living here for over 15 years this is only the second time I’ve been there. Disgraceful! I live about a 30-minute train ride from Fenchurch Street but on a clear day like today I could make out Canary Wharf and The Shard, and since I’m really not a city person for me it’s the perfect distance to be viewing them from.

Finally, after being out for four hours and not having a huge amount to show for it, I returned home to relax in the garden with Pea and a good book. The only problem is I was supposed to go to Lidl’s before going home because I absolutely needed a cabbage, so once Pea was bored with watching the bees enjoy our mallow plant, I headed out again.

Just after getting home my new lens arrived and I’ve been playing with that ever since, but annoyingly every bird in the area seems to have deserted me so I haven’t had a chance to properly test it. Besides, I think there are enough pictures in this post to be getting on with!

I’ve just had such an amazing day, enjoying the simple things in life. The only downside is the sunburn I stupidly allowed myself to get. I MUST remember to put cream on in future!

It’s scary to think that no so long ago I never would have dreamed of going for a walk by myself, or just for fun for that matter. I certainly wouldn’t have gone to the church alone or stopped to take a photo in case someone looked at me. God forbid! I’m never going back to that, not ever.

Now all that’s left to do today is keep my fingers crossed for a good result on the scales tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Hayley x

Bye Bye Bullies

Since I first changed my hairstyle I’ve noticed a change in the way people at work treat me. I’ve mentioned it here before, but it seems like because I come across as being more confident people think they can be more brutally honest with me. When I walked into work in the past bulging out of my size 26 clothes, people were too polite to say anything. But now they don’t seem to feel the need to filter their thoughts and opinions before forcing them on me.

At first I just sat there and took it because although I’ve shrunk considerably, in my mind I mostly still feel like the old me. Not physically, because there’s no denying I can move around easier and whatnot, but I still see myself as a morbidly obese person. So when someone would say something extremely rude to me, I wouldn’t say anything back. I was frightened that their next move would be to call me fat, and I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone voicing what I was already thinking. Which makes no sense – everyone can see how big I am – but there you go.

Fairly recently one particular man started insulting me, mostly about my hair, and when I called him up on his rude behaviour he’d just say that he was joking. The more I got to know him, the more I realised that he’s just a nasty person. It came to a head when I asked him, very calmly, to ‘stop being a c**t’ (I kept my cool in a way but inside I’d totally lost my temper!) and for a while he stopped. But it was short lived.

Years ago I went to night school to learn how to be more assertive and although I still wouldn’t call myself an assertive person (except when there really is no other option) I learned a lot. One thing was about people who treat you like crap. I asked the tutor what you do if you’ve told the person how you feel and they simply don’t care. She said that you can’t force someone to change, so you have to decide if you want to keep that person in your life or not.

Sadly I can’t just stop seeing this person because we work together, so I made a point of distancing myself from him. And it was working until a couple of days ago when he came up and asked me why I don’t talk to him anymore. So assertive Hayley made a rare appearance and I told him straight – that he is mean. And although other people make fun of me, and I have a laugh with them, that’s not all they do. We have ordinary conversations too, about life and our passions and our struggles. And if they upset me (or vice-versa) I tell them and we work it out. At this point he apologised and I thought we’d made some progress. Then on the way out at the end of shift I heard him telling someone about his plans to bully several other members of staff, because he has decided that they ‘deserve’ it, and that if they ask him to stop he’s not going to until they report him.

If he starts on me again, or I hear him doing it to anyone else, report him I will. And I’ll do it without the fear of any comments about my weight. They may still come, but I have realised that I don’t care anymore if they do. The most important thing is that I surround myself with good people in my life, and don’t give any headspace over to the poisonous people of the world. It feels incredibly good to know that I’m strong enough to do that now!

Anyway on to a different subject, namely FOOD! I have a new obsession and I’ll be honest – I had to have strong words with all of the Polish people I know. I mean, how could they fail to mention that Poland is the capital of the gherkin world? It’s just not on!

Since I started working with Polish people I’ve tried some delicious food, but I don’t eat it now because it’s either meaty or chock full of calories. I tried homemade pierogi that a friend donated to me when her mum visited, which I fried in butter, Fasolka Po Bretonsku (a delicious sausage and bean stew), Krowki (a crumbly fudge that translates as ‘little cows’) confit chicken (the first and only time I’ve had confit anything), and Polish bread, oh how I love Polish bread!

For this reason I normally avoid the Polish food section at Tesco, but this week I decided to have a little look. I’ve noticed recently that gherkins can be inordinately expensive, so when I saw soured gherkins (ogúrki kwazone) and noticed that they were slightly cheaper than our boring old English ones, I knew I had to give them a try.

And oh my, I LOVE THEM! They have the kind of salty, savouriness of olives, but they’re SPEED FOOD! So I had to go back for more.

I shall be eating these until they come out of my ears, they’re just the perfect snack!

My other food obsession right now is fresh cherries. My mum has been poorly and can’t taste anything so I’ve been having the pick of all the perfectly red and juicy cherries every day, just as they ripen. It has been heavenly.

I do have a couple more things to share with you but I just looked at the time, expecting it to be about 5.30pm and thinking I should get a move on. It’s actually 7.15pm and I need to get a shift on!

Hayley X

Nice Weather For Ducks… and Hayley 

Since I’ve decided that for every day in June I’m going to do 10,000 steps a day or more, I realised that on my days off I just have to get out of the house. My usual routine would mean me doing about 1,800 steps and that just ain’t good enough! I don’t feel like I’ve done all that much today but the day has disappeared nonetheless . I did the vacuuming, popped to Lidl for supplies, pottered around on the computer then before I knew it I had to leave to meet my brother. On his way home from work he rides through a park so I walked to meet him there this evening.

I deliberately got there about 45 minutes early so I did a few laps of the lake and got my 10,000 steps. Then I only went and saw a bloody heron! He had a fish in his mouth, which I watched him eat, then I quickly rooted around in my bag for my camera. He was too far away for me to get a decent pic (the one below is cropped) but there he is just the same.

I’m glad I’ve got a picture because for some reason seeing a heron feels really surreal to me. This first time I saw one it was about 6 am and I was on a stress-induced walk. It was a few years ago and I was still with my boyfriend, who had a habit of going off the radar whenever he went to visit his kids. He has a history of falling asleep at the wheel so when after a couple of days I still hadn’t heard from him and I eventually plucked up the courage to call (I wasn’t allowed to in case his ex found out he was seeing someone… go figure…) his phone was switched off and I couldn’t get the images of him lying in a hospital bed out of my head. In such situations my anxiety was just too much to bear and I just had to move, no matter what. So I went out walking in the early hours.

I walked up a hill I’ve driven up a thousand times, and as far as I knew it was just rows of very posh houses up there. I was stomping along when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was eerily quiet and I hadn’t seen another soul so I was shocked when I looked to the side of me to see a little stream which runs underneath the road, one I didn’t even know was there, and a heron just standing there looking at me. I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating or not!

Today was similar. There were kids all around playing football, lots of dads riding bikes with their kids, people walking dogs, yet all of a sudden I was completely alone except for the geese, ducks and cootes (who had gone for a swim, frightened off by the footballers) and Mr Heron here.

My brother arrived just seconds before the heron flew away, then we tempted the geese out of the lake with some tasty porridge oats. It also started to rain, but such things won’t deter seasoned walkers like ourselves, and I kept my camera dry but putting it in a carrier bag and making holes for the lens and the viewfinder. 

 

I cannot believe how quickly these geeselets have grown. This is what they looked like when I saw them last, on the 13th of May. I wish I’d taken my camera that day!

I suppose they must be teenagers now, although it was the parents who were the worst behaved. This one had clearly taken offence to us feeding the kids and it kept hissing and sticking its tongue out. How unfriendly!

We saw some ducks too, and at least someone other than me didn’t seem to mind that it was raining. I know it’s not really smiling but seriously how happy does that duck look?

But this little one though, THIS one was the absolute cutest. JUST LOOK AT THAT FACE!

I’m pleased I had a good photo day, I love getting home to find out what I’ve captured. It was especially fun today because of the rain – I couldn’t review the pictures as I took them so I was completely in the dark as to what they’d come out like.

When I got in I was starving but there’s only one thing that can truly distract me from food, and that’s editing my photos. Once I was done though I had a potato salad with Quorn crispy fillets. I’m just loving simplicity when it comes to my food the last few days – the salad was just baby plum tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and boiled potatoes and it was just so damn good.

I can’t quite believe it’s weigh in tomorrow because it’s come around so quickly. It honestly feels like it was only yesterday I was last at group. I suppose that’s what being back at work has done to me, I’m completely up the wall with my sense of time. Ho hum, hopefully I’ve lost weight, which I’m not sure about because Star Week (sorry, TMI) has arrived early. I did wonder why I was extra angry at work this week, I just put it down to resenting being back after all that time off. I’m not usually one to sulk about things like that though, so it’s making a lot more sense now!

Ok, I’m going now before I ramble at you any further.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

On Top of the World

Denial is something I’m really, really good at. When I’m on plan I log every morsel that passes my lips, I look in the mirror regularly to try and spot changes, and usually there are some. I’m generally pleased with my reflection these days, too. But when I’m off plan, like I have been since I last posted, then I’m adept at not thinking at all about how I look, how my clothes fit (or don’t as the case may be), the huge volumes of food that I’m eating and the effect it’s having on my body. All I allow myself to think about it what I’m going to eat next.

I’m stuck in this horrible pattern of losing a large chunk of weight one week and gaining it back in a fortnight or so. It’s not good for me, and I need to stop it. Unfortunately I’m expecting my biggest gain yet at group on Tuesday. Now I’ve faced up to what I’ve done I need to face the scales, and I think that’s best done at my usual group. Plus I’m not back at work until Wednesday night so there’s no excuse not to go. I’m dreading it, but I need to break the cycle. This has happened to me before, in 2013, and my consultant suggested that I call target for a while until I get my head straight. I didn’t, and I regained everything I’d lost plus more. This time I’m not going to let history repeat itself. I have a few weeks left of a 12 week countdown, so if I’m back to my lowest weight (at least this time around) by the time it’s finished I think I will maintain for a while, probably for a month or so, to take some of the pressure I’ve given myself off a little bit.

On the plus side (and it’s a very big plus indeed) on Thursday my Snowdon trip finally came around. It was a 6 hour drive to our campsite so on the way there me and my brother had plenty of time to plan our strategies. We both admitted that we were rather worried about not being able to reach the summit, and agreed that if we needed to we’d turn around and go back. I don’t like giving up as much as the next person, but it is dangerous and if we got out of our depth we needed to be able to admit that. We also agreed that we’d set off from the Pen Y Pass car park at 5am the next day. It sounds a little bit bonkers, but Snowdon gets really busy and we both like peace and quiet so it was worth getting up early for.

On Thursday the weather was absolutely glorious, and baking hot, so we were looking forward to it being at least slightly cooler up the mountain. Despite the long drive we did have time to get some dinner at a local pub and check out a little waterfall. As we bought cold drinks from the café it was free for us to get in, otherwise it would have been a pound each. It wasn’t the most spectacular waterfall I’d ever seen, it was more of a big stream really, but it was a nice little walk and you really can’t go wrong for that kind of money.

We did try to get an early night but I really struggled to get off, so I must have had about 5 hours tops. Not ideal for when you’re about to go up a mountain but there’s not much I could do about it! I did wake up for a tinkle at 3am and the sky was just stunning. We were camped about a 30 second walk, literally, from the lake you can see in the picture below. What with it being so remote there was no light pollution, and happily at 3am there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, either. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life!

When we set off for the summit the next day, as we’d hoped there was barely another soul around. We did see people occasionally as we made our way up, but they were clearly seasoned walkers and they overtook us every time. We saw one man carrying a mountain bike up, which was inconceivable to us. How did he manage to carry it over the precarious parts? When did he actually get to ride it? Who can say… Anyway we didn’t mind being overtaken, and considering it was our first time doing anything like that we were making really good progress. The best part though was seeing the sun come up behind the mountains.

Another benefit of leaving so early was that we were able to cope in the heat! And considering 90% of the year visibility is pretty awful we couldn’t have wished for the views to be any better. We gradually made our way up the Pyg Track which is one of the steepest yet shortest routes, and it involved actually climbing at various points. I’m talking using both arms to clamber over the parts where the path isn’t actually a path. It was scary, but so exciting and so much fun!

We checked online before we went and apparently a ‘reasonably fit person’ can complete the Pyg Track in about 3 hours. Somehow, we managed to do it and three-and-half and I honestly couldn’t be prouder of myself. 7 months ago I couldn’t walk from the clocking out machine at work to the car park without getting out of breath, and I certainly couldn’t hold a conversation. But on Friday I climbed a mountain. An actual mountain! I still can’t quite believe it!

The views from the top were absolutely spectacular and we even had the summit, which is very small, to ourselves for 15 minutes or so. My camera is old and very heavy, but I’m so glad I lugged that extra weight around. I mean just look at it!

I must admit I found going down a lot harder than going up. My legs were like jelly by the time we got to the lake you can see in the picture above. The picture below? Yep, same lake! We took a different route back down, the Miners Track, which took us right down to the shore where I put my feet in the numbingly cold water and rinsed my hair. It was just an amazing feeling, I can’t even describe it. It was a magical experience. And the water was so clear.

The very last bit was reasonably flat and eventually it turns into what can be described as an actual path, but it was a hard slog as I’d run out of steam at that point. In all, including stopping for breaks and to take pictures (I also video-called my sister from the summit, the only place we could get mobile internet bizarrely) it took us 7.5 hours to get there and back.  When we got back to the campsite I felt super happy and content though! Until this morning I’ve been enjoying my holiday and have continued to eat and drink anything I wanted, but today I’m back on plan before I cause any more damage.

I feel like I’ve been given a rare bit of clarity today – I can see how easy it would be for me to give up now and undo all of my hard work, or I can do something I’ve never done before – to just keep going even when the going is really tough. Even if I don’t lose much more weight for the time being, I need to remember how different I feel now. I’ve achieved something I never, ever thought possible, and I’m looking forward to finding out what else I can do when I put my mind to it.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley X