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

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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

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