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

Full of Beans

Today I am full of beans! I’m full of actual beans (pulses and legumes, too), coffee beans, and just the general beans of life!

Last night work was… OK. And that’s weird, because normally it just isn’t. The shift started off with us being given little tokens with our names on, to be put into one of two boxes. One for yes and one for no. And the question? Do we want on on-site gym. Of course I’d be voting yes anyway, because it’s a great idea, and in all the time I’ve worked there it’s the most positive and health-conscious suggestion that’s ever been put forward. But did I think I’d actually go to the work gym and exercise in front of my colleagues? Well, no. But I have a most excellent work friend who I think the world of, and we both confessed that we’d be too self-conscious. And that’s what’s great about friends, and being open and honest. Good things can come of it, because as we both feel the same way, we agreed that we would go together.

Then at 34 years old I did my first ever ‘pinky swear’, upon his insistence. When I was a young lass we didn’t have pinky swears (as far as I know) which I think must have come from our American cousins. But my friend is a mere whippersnapper at 23-years-old and has been exposed to much more Americanisms in his youth than I have. It is therefore a done deal, and if the gym does actually get built (I think it will because one of the top managers is really driving it forward) then I will from that point forward be a gym person with my very own gym buddy. I’m kind of excited, and also terrified, because there’s a chap at work who I think is simply a beautiful human being (and I’m not just talking physical attributes here, although he is a very unconventionally attractive person), and if he goes I will be mortified. But I won’t let it stop me, because even if I thought he would be vaguely interested in me I know he isn’t the right chap. Not that I even have to consider that eventuality! I’m actually grateful for that – I just want a simple life.

A couple of hours into my shift my manager sent a message asking for volunteers to go to another department, so I thought what the hell, let’s just do it. When I first started working there I was on said department permanently, and since there is an area with small, light items to be picked that’s where I went. I call it the girls’ area. The men were consigned to the area containing weights and flat pack furniture. But last night I ended up in the man area, which was probably an error on the manager’s part, but I decided to stick with it and see how I did. And it was an absolute breeze! I wouldn’t want to be doing it every day but I had no trouble with the heavy lifting at all! The last time I picked I probably spent about 40% of the shift in that area and then I had to ask to be moved because it was just too much. That was a few months ago, and I’m happy to find that I’m so much fitter and stronger than I was back then.

We also have to wear a pack around our waists that communicates with the servers and tells us where to go and what to do. For the last 8 years I have felt anxious every time I’m given a pack as I don’t know whether I can get one that will go around me. Some selfish people adjust it to their waists and cut off the excess. But I realised in the last year I haven’t had to do that. I can just pick up any pack and not have the humiliation of having to ask to change it if it doesn’t fit. Because they all do! In the eventuality I get one that doesn’t fit, I know it’s because a super slim person has had it before me, not because there’s anything wrong with me personally. That’s a liberating feeling.

Steps-wise being on a more physical department hasn’t had much of an impact, I’ve maybe done a couple of hundred more, but I think it will definitely have an impact on my calorie burn. I will know for sure after midnight.

When I woke up this afternoon I got out in the garden, with a bath towel over my camera, to take another picture of the giant thistle which is open even more today. I think the relentless rain is doing it the world of good, but I do miss the sunshine already. If the rain actually stops at any point I’ll be out there again taking macro shots of raindrops, but it’s not looking all that likely. I just didn’t have time to get a decent raindrop shot before I became soaked through. There’s always hope though!

Finally I will tell you about yesterday’s dinner and my attempt at a tofu bechamel sauce. It was a DISASTER. It was so bad that (you may want to sit down for this) I couldn’t finish my dinner. The actual main part of the dish though, the ragu with aubergine, fresh on-the-vine-tomatoes, soya mince, onions, and my new love – Henderson’s Relish – was absolutely delicious. Next time I will just syn some vegan cheese substitute to go on top or (and this could well turn out just as disastrous as the tofu) I’m thinking something with blended cauliflower? Hmm, this needs more thought and experimentation…

Until next time, 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

Fightin’ Talk

I’ve mentioned it before but I’m really bad at living within my means. Just before I hid one of my credit cards (which doesn’t make a huge difference because I can use it via Apple Pay and PayPal) I treated myself to a couple of bits from Long Tall Sally, courtesy of Tesco Bank. I like the Long Tall Sally clothes, for the most part, but even their basics are just so damn expensive. I needed a couple of t-shirts for when I eventually go running with my sister (she’s mega busy trying to get her new house decorated and furnished) as all running gear for women seems to only cater for very short people. Me? I need a top that’s going to cover my tummy or I’m seriously not leaving the house! I managed to get two tops for £25 which isn’t too bad, even though the same sort of thing for a short person is more like £6, but while I was there I also bought a pair of £45 jeans. Oops. They are a pair of slouchy ‘boyfriend’ jeans (I really resent that term!) that are meant to fit well at the waist then be quite slouchy. I got them in a 16, and since I’m a 16-18 on the bottom at the moment, and as I say they are quite fitted, I can get them on but there’s a serious amount of muffin top going on. Plus I can’t breathe. So even though I haven’t quite recovered from my bad mood yet, I do have fresh focus because I really want to get into these 38″-inside-leg jeans! That is not my inside leg (I’m a 34″) but as I mentioned before they’re supposed to be slouchy. But they’ll be holding my tummy in nicely once they fit. I’m convinced they’re going to be a firm favourite so I need to get a grip and lose this damn weight!

I got up early today with the vague intention of ‘getting stuff done’ and on a whim checked the weather forecast. I was just starting my second very large and very strong cup of coffee, but since the weather was only going to be nice for the morning I quickly downed it, made myself look presentable and got my butt out of the house. I’ll admit that although I brushed my teeth and whatnot I didn’t have a shower, which is kinda gross, but in my defence I had one at 5pm yesterday so it’s not toooooooo icky. It does however show my dedication to catching what little sunshine was available!

First stop was the church on the hill, and for the first time ever I actually saw other people there even though it was only 10am. There was one lady who had the same intention as me – taking photos – and a young man who I’m pretty sure had tattooed eyeballs. I’m not judging, I just think it’s an interesting fact. I like it when people are different! I think he was just having a nice stroll, listening to music and enjoying the view.

Next I headed to the local park but there was a problem. After all that coffee I really needed to pee, so I had to venture into town (just a little bit) to use the facilities. The closest was M&S so I did what I needed to do, bought some nectarines and got the hell out of there. Because town on a Saturday doesn’t even bare thinking about.

The park was quite busy but I had the geese all to myself for a while, and I’m telling you there was an absolute army of them. For a split second I wondered whether I should feed them in case they got upset when I ran out of oats, but then I decided it was worth the risk for a good photo op.

There was easily the same amount of geese as you see in the picture here behind me, the other side of me and in the water. It’s clearly been a bumper year for mother and father geeses!

I used my oats to lure the geese away to either side of me so that the ducks could get a look-in. I’m thinking these ones are probably teenagers, but because their mum was with them they were exceptionally well behaved.

Apart from feeding the birds the best thing about the walk was that by 10:30am I’d already burned off the same amount of calories that I’d burned by 6pm yesterday. And I have another nice walk planned for tomorrow, somewhere a little different this time. I’m really annoyed that I didn’t think of it sooner, but what can you do. I’ll update you on that tomorrow.

When I got home I made myself a nice lunch of meat-free chicken-style burgers and some pretty weird sausages (all on plan though) with chips and salad. I’ve been sampling Fry’s Family Foods sausages and burgers and although they are really good value for syns (the sausages and ordinary burgers are 2 for half a syn, the chicken-style ones are 2 syns each) they are an acquired taste. The sausages have a kind of Play Doh texture that takes a bit of getting used to! Eventually I want to move away from these kinds of meat substitutes and cook more wholesome meals from scratch, but one thing at a time eh!

Now I’m going to get on and do all of the boring little jobs that I’ve been meaning to get around to for days…

Thanks 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

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

Brain Food

My mind has been so completely occupied with everything Slimming World for months now, so much so that some of my other interests have taken a back seat. I used to really enjoy reading but lately I haven’t been able to relax enough to get into the right head space. I wanted to do all of the things all of the time! But now I feel I’m really ready to have a better balance in my life of all the things I want to do.

I’ve been meaning to be more artistic but just never sat down and made the time for it, so after deciding a few blogs ago not to worry about whether something is rubbish or not, I also made the decision to stop worrying about whether I can finish it or not. I thought back to when I did my art GCSE (I smashed it by the way and got my one and only A*) and how we’d just work on things bit by bit, lesson by lesson. I don’t have to do everything in one go! So this week I’ve worked on something artistic just a little bit every day. Even if it’s just half an hour, it’s something. And just that half an hour makes me feel like I’ve been doing something really productive. Which I suppose I have!

The same goes for reading. I have a growing pile of real books and Kindle books that I want to read, and if I don’t make some headway soon then I’m going to become overwhelmed. So again, just half an hour every day, I’m giving myself the time to sit and feed my brain. Reading has been a problem in the past because there was nothing I liked to do more than sit down with a good book, a glass of wine and a big box of chocolates. But as with film and TV, I think I’ve now successfully separated eating from reading so I don’t feel like something is missing if I just sit down with a cup of coffee.

At the moment I’m reading The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell, which is all about my favourite author. My sister bought it for me in 2014, but I never started reading it because I find it really hard to get into non-fiction. If I believed in such things then I’d think I was meant to read it at this point in my life, because there are tons of inspirational quotes from Neil that I can apply both to my Slimming World journey and my artistic endeavours. And I’m feeling a little bit emotional too (hormones, bleurg) but I’ve noticed that it’s happy stuff that is more likely to make me tear up now rather than sad stuff – every time I read something inspirational I get a lump in my throat. Although watching A Monster Calls the other day was an exception, that film is simply heartbreaking. But also very good!

In the picture above we also have a couple of books about birds (I’m so predictable) one of which was a Christmas present from my brother (I read the introduction and cried over a story about an African Grey parrot) and one that a friend of mine read recently. She said that Fire, burn! is a murder mystery based around bird seed, so of course I had to get a copy. Hopefully it’s as wonderfully bonkers as it sounds.

Yesterday I was very naughty and impulse-bought a new lens for my camera, which should be arriving tomorrow. I can’t wait to try it out. It won’t have the quality and sharpness of my usual lenses, but then that’s reflected in the price. I wanted something that I could use to photograph wildlife, because it’s hard to identify things if they have flown or scampered away before you get the chance to look at them! The lens I would have liked to get is £1170, but instead I settled for one costing £102. It will also come in handy because every year my work colleagues have a football match and last year I tried sports photography for the first time ever. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and the results weren’t too bad either, but I know they’ll be a lot better with my new lens. Hopefully they organise this year’s match soon.

I had another impulse buy, this time in Tesco’s and thankfully for a lot less money. I always look in the kid’s craft section, as you do, and I came across some little pom-pom balls. I suppose most of us have seen the motivational pebble jars people use when slimming, where you have a jar with pebbles representing pounds to lose, and another jar with pounds lost. I thought I’d do mine with colourful balls, but I didn’t work out how many I’d need before hand. Rather than go back for more I decided to make the most of what I already had and made one jar (or bottle, in this case) with balls representing all of the whole pounds I’ve lost so far (77) and another with balls representing every half-pound I have left to lose (85).

I’m very pleased with the results, and they make a nice colourful addition to my shelf.

And now after all this talk I need to get off my back side and do something with my day!

Have a fabulous Sunday people,

Hayley X

Victory Is Mine

The Workweek Hustle is over and the results are in – between Monday and Friday my sister did 74,392 steps but I did a winning 87,581! My sister was gaining on me considerably, that is until Thursday night when my manager put me on a really physical job and I worked my absolute butt off. I’m really hoping this increases my chances of a good loss come Tuesday because I am seriously chasing that 15 stone bracket now. I want to see those numbers so, so badly!

It’s been a weird old week. Wednesday I wore two layers of clothes to work and needed a hot water bottle to warm me up when I got home in the morning, but today it’s absolutely gorgeous out there. I did a bit of washing as I’m out tomorrow and my favourite summer outfit was dirty, but it took me a while to get it on the line. The first time I went into the garden my brother was out there with Chester, our ginger cat. He has to be supervised outside, on a lead (Chester that is, not my brother), because he has kidney failure. He can’t go exploring by himself because where he isn’t processing protein properly his back legs are weak so he can’t get himself out of trouble if he needs to. Weirdly he seems quite content with being on a lead. So I just had to run in and grab my camera.

After Chester had finished posing I went indoors and actually managed to get the wet washing out of the machine before Kitt came along to say hello. Kitt (named after the car from Knight Rider) and Chester are brother and sister and they are both getting on a bit now, so Kitt doesn’t venture far these days. Most of the time she escapes through the back door then goes straight round to the front of the house to sit on the window ledge and meow to be let back in. They’re not the brightest of creatures! Eventually I managed to stop getting distracted and the washing is drying in the sun and the wind as I type.

Whilst out in the garden I noticed that it can’t be long now until the cherries are ready to eat. There’s nothing like eating them straight off the tree, although it’s still more of an overgrown twig at this stage.

It occurred to me today that in a way I seem to have aged considerably in the last year. I have become a person who watches Springwatch on purpose, I have started doing embroidery, I joined a bird identification group on Facebook, I am contemplating learning how to do gardening (what kind of stuff do I plant where? Will it come back next year? Do I need to know what pH my soil is?) and I love being outdoors. In my early twenties I harboured a secret ambition to become a hermit but now I’m the complete opposite and I’m absolutely loving it.

My sister is the same, and we talked recently about how we used to be so different yet we have independently become practically the same person. She went to university in Southampton, moved to London, became a teacher, met a guy… I never had a clue (still don’t) about what I want to do, never had any luck with relationships, never had much interest in nature or animals, yet here we are, for the most part sickeningly happy and both obsessed with birds, nature and absolutely anything arty or crafty! I think we both agree on one thing though – being happy certainly didn’t come naturally to either of us and we had to work bloody hard to get to where we are now. If you asked us how we did it though, I doubt we could come up with an answer. There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution sadly.

Oops I seem to have got a little bit too thoughtful there and have gone off on a tangent! Anyway, this evening I don’t have to go to work because I booked the night off. I’m leaving early in the morning for the Think Parrots show and I have a ton of food prep to do before hand. It’s going to be an absolute feast! I also have an enormous batch of ‘chilli-non-carné’ that I prepared yesterday so that’s today’s and tomorrow’s dinner sorted, meaning I can just concentrate on making my enormous Slimming World picnic. Another dinner highlight this week has been Fishless Fingers (thank you Quorn, they really hit the spot) which I served with all of the most summery-looking veg I had in my fridge.

Well, I’d better stop sitting on my butt now and get cooking!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x