Red Roses and Cabbages

On Thursday a friend popped round as he couldn’t see me on my actual birthday, which is today, and I was surprised with a lovely bunch of flowers. We’re good enough friends that he knows how much I love vegetables, so my bunch of flowers included what seemed to be cabbages or kale of some description! As he suspected, I was impressed. Since I don’t know exactly what they are I’ll resist eating them though.

Then this morning everything went topsy turvy and I had a slip-up. I knew I was getting a chocolate frog from my brother, which I had intended to save until Hallowe’en. Just because. But as soon as I opened him I lost control and bit his poor little head off.

I’ll be honest. The rest of him did not last much longer. Then I opened my next present, which was a gorgeous little box of 6 gold-dusted vegan truffles (not real gold, I’m assuming) and they didn’t last long either. I followed that up with toast smothered in peanut butter, then finally with dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s. Not the healthiest breakfast I’ve ever had. On the plus side, I stopped eating before I felt sick, although in ‘normal person’ terms by rights I should have been feeling sick already. I probably ate 1/5th of the ice cream before I put it back in the freezer, which I’m fairly certain has never happened before.

I then opened a present from my mum – a size 14 sweater-dress that I was quite sure would be a bit tight even though the style is deliberately oversized. Nope! It fits perfectly. I’m not sure if it’s how it’s supposed to fit, but I felt just brilliant wearing it, plus it has a nice high neckline that will keep me nice and warm but still shows evidence of my actual neck. I absolutely love it and at that point I felt over the moon.

After a little more present-opening, including a very sweary cookbook called Thug Kitchen – Eat Like You Give a F*ck (check it out, there are loads of healthy recipes that look easy enough to convert to Slimming World) I went to bed for some much needed sleep.

When I woke up, before I was even aware what day of the week it is, a wave of guilt at what I’d eaten this morning washed over me. So I did what I promised myself I would do the next time I found myself feeling bad about food, and that’s to reach out for some help.

I messaged my friend and favourite blogger to confess, and I was given some excellent advice. It was all stuff that any of us slimmers would tell each other in the same situation – that we’re only human, that it’s not the end of the world, that beating yourself up doesn’t do any good whatsoever. Sometimes we just need to hear it from someone else. And as the messages came pouring in I felt myself exhale and my shoulders drop (they had been making their way up to my earlobes) because I was so tense and I hadn’t even realised. I remembered to just breathe and that actually, everything is still OK.

Another result of talking to a fellow slimmer is that I’ve cemented a goal I’ve had floating around in my head for a while. My target weight (for now) is 12st 10lbs, which will take me into the top end of a healthy BMI and also give me leeway of a couple of pounds. But more than that, I want to comfortably fit into a size 14 from any high street store such as Topshop, River Island, New Look, Next etc. Once I can do that, there won’t be many (perhaps any) places I can’t shop and from then on I’ll only have to worry about getting clothes that are long enough, rather than wide enough, to fit me. Wouldn’t that be something?

Tonight I’m at work but tomorrow I’m out and about in London with my sister, and although I will still have my vegan pumpkin spice latté, that’s the only thing I’m going to have while we’re out unless it’s a free food. I’m taking a packed lunch with me, and I’ve given my sister instructions to knock any bad food straight out of my hand if I do pick any up. Although I don’t think I will even want to now. I still have all of my goals in sight and I can’t afford to be distracted any further.

This is where I’ve gone wrong in the past – one bad morning, or evening, or whatever, has sent my spiralling out of control. And it doesn’t have to be that way. It WON’T be that way.

I’m going to enjoy the rest of my birthday guilt free and safe in the knowledge that I’m still on my way to target. It feels damn good.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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A Pleasant Surprise

Last night I wore my three layers to work, as has become the norm over the last week, and I nearly bloody melted. It’s been so warm today! I’m not complaining because it’s been beautiful, and it was absolutely ideal as me and my brother had already planned to visit Eltham Palace today.

Autumn colours are always lovely, but it’s even better when the sun is shining on them and there was barely a cloud in the sky all day. After arriving we headed straight to the house (palace my backside) and picked up one of the free audio guides. In fact it was all kind of free now that we are English Heritage members. That’s a very good thing because I would have been slightly cheesed off if I’d paid for the audio guide because it really was dreadful! It sounded like the narrator was trying to be seductive, and I don’t know who wrote the script but after one description of a painting I had to turn if off because I wanted to throw the thing through the window.

Hence I came home knowing nothing about Eltham Palace at all. I have just had a quick read on Wikipedia though and it seems it was a palace once, but it was all but destroyed in the 1600’s. What’s there now is a house that was built on the site, which includes the restored great hall of the original palace. The Art Deco house was apparently a ‘masterpiece of modern design’ and I read a little plaque that said it was inspired by Scandinavian design. I’d much rather kit my home out with Ikea though because I thought it was ugly. The only pictures I took inside the house were not Art Deco at all!

The grounds though, now they are lovely. There’s a big lake that goes part of the way around it and the fish there (I think my brother said they are carp) must be used to being fed because they are so friendly. Normally I have oats in my bag as a matter of course, in case I need to tempt a water bird on my travels, but I didn’t replenish the last lot I used so we had nothing to lure the fish closer with. Then along came a family eating their sarnies who decided to throw bread in the water.

I’m sure most people know that you shouldn’t feed birds bread, because uneaten bread can pollute the water and it doesn’t provide enough nutrition to see them through the winter. I’m not sure what the deal is with fish, but it would be irrelevant in this case anyway. The fish snaffled up the bread immediately and I’m not sure even a single crumb was missed.

We spent most of the afternoon just wandering around exploring the grounds or watching the fish, and I was just loving the colours of everything so much. I’m going to find out what kind of flowers they have because everything was still in bloom and it would be lovely to have our garden looking something like that this time next year. Not that I’ve done anything at all with the garden since I decided I was going to sort it out, however many months ago. I really must do my research in time for spring.

I don’t know why this year has been so different, but documenting the changes in the seasons and trying to enjoy every minute of it has been really important to me. I need to make sure I’m out every week until all of the leaves are gone because I don’t want to miss a single photo op!

Just gorgeous.

When we left in the late morning I’d just eaten breakfast and wasn’t hungry at all so I didn’t take food with me, but I did have the foresight to have a lunch already prepared for when I got home. That was a good call because on the drive back my tummy was rumbling like mad. I’m frightening myself with all of this organisation.

You may notice that I didn’t put any weekly goals up last week, and that’s because I had no intention at all of avoiding the sneak peek. I’m feeling really bloated and I think it’s possible I’ll have a maintain but the important thing is to not freak out about it.

That’s if it does happen at all, because a lot can change between now and Tuesday morning. What I do know is that I have had an impeccable week as far as food is concerned and if I don’t get a good result I only need to look to the people I admire who deal with gains and maintains spectacularly well. There are two in particular. One is Just Julie and I’m pretty sure the other can guess who he is, and the thing about these spectacular people is I see them have disappointing and undeserved results at times, and although they’re obviously not happy about it, they don’t let it derail them. I wait with anticipation for the following week’s results and watch all of the hard work pay off as they are rewarded for sticking with it. Even when it might be the last thing they wanted to do at the time.

And that’s where I must leave you because it’s 8pm and I haven’t even started dinner yet. So much for being organised…

Hayley x

Harvest

Pea is growing new feathers again which means that she is grumpy. This usually manifests itself by her shouting at me all day to be let out of her cage then resolutely refusing to come out – her ideal scenario is that I am awake but leaving her alone while she sits on her perch with the cage doors open. I’m fairly certain I could go to sleep and she’d be absolutely fine, but there’s always the chance she’ll go exploring without me and chew through an electrical cable or something else equally as deadly. So it’s not worth the risk. When she’s like this, which thankfully isn’t too often, I don’t tend to get much sleep during the day. Yesterday I slept in until the very last minute then very lazily drove to the Lidl’s around the corner because the only speed foods I had left in the house were lemons and limes.

I went in for mushrooms and courgettes but I came out with neither. I completely forgot about those before I even stepped into the shop because outside my eye was caught by some beautiful autumn heather. It was only £1.79 so I thought why the hell not!

I’ve got to say that Lidl is totally on it when it comes to the autumn produce. I’ve already been getting excited about fig season because I love them and the season is oh so short. Lidl provided, and I had my first figs of the year.

I’ve also been keeping my eye out for seasonal squashes. Again Lidl did not disappoint! I picked out all of the prettiest ones, and although it’s almost a shame to eat them it’s an even bigger shame not to. On top of that I got some beetroot, which I’ve never, ever cooked for myself (I’ll be having a go later), ‘Unicorn Carrots’, which are baby carrots and parsnips in various colours, and I got the very last packet of buttonhole kale. Just look at all the colours!

I ate the carrots with dinner yesterday – I just roasted them in Frylight and a little bit of garlic salt – and they were heavenly. As was the kale, it’s the prettiest-looking veg in the pan.

Today has been another day of not quite enough sleep, as I spent the morning driving my friend around after he scrapped a car. I was glad to help thought because it’s the same car/people-carrier-type thing that he loaned me to help my sister move. Thankfully the engine didn’t choose to fall apart until long after the job was done. My friend is obsessed with anything that has an engine and has another two cars left, plus a motorbike, so I think he’ll be OK getting around for the time being.

Last night at work marked a sign of things to come. I ordered some cheap thermals to keep me going until the work allowance comes through and last night I had to wear them for the first time. It’s all downhill from now on! All in all I’m feeling really happy about it though, because in the past I’ve bought all of my own cold weather gear due to being too ashamed for my manager to know my size. This year though the large I bought for myself fits comfortably so when it comes to ordering from work I’ll be getting medium tops and large bottoms. MEDIUM! REALLY! That’s something of a far cry from the XXL’s I was wearing last year that fit me like a second skin!

As anyone who’s been reading my blog for a while knows I’ve spent the last few months struggling to get into the rhythm of things, but as bad as I felt over that period of time, that’s as good as I feel now. I’m sure it’s because for the first time in my life I had a bad spell and instead of letting it consume me I worked through it and carried on. If I can do that after all these years of failing, then I think I can do just about anything.

Hayley x

After the Storm

Today I feel like I haven’t stopped, but at the same time I haven’t really achieved very much at all. Maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep too well last night, and that’s because everything went a bit screwy around bed time.

After we’d all finished watching Blade Runner I was messaging a friend and not really paying attention to what was going on in the room, and while this was happening a disagreement was brewing between my mum and my brother. I had a feeling there was going to be some sort of conflict because my mum had been really argumentative the whole day. Whereas I (probably from my childhood years spent trying not to antagonise either parent) am quite good at letting things go and diffusing the situation, my brother is too young to remember the old times and hasn’t had much practice. Or sometimes he just won’t back down as a matter of principle. It’s just his nature.

A little while later I thought things were OK-ish, so I got myself off to bed. Ever since I first started working nights I’ve worn earplugs to bed, and now I can’t sleep without them, but even with them in about half an hour later I could hear shouting. I managed to stay upstairs until I heard my mum shouting some stuff that was totally made up, and about me, so I couldn’t control myself and went down to give my money’s worth. Thankfully it all kind of got sorted and everything is kind of OK again, but these things really take it out of me. I’ve always hated living in that kind of environment, and whenever things kick off (which admittedly was rarely but is now worryingly increasing in frequency) it takes me right back to when arguments like this between my mum and my dad were at least a weekly occurrence. As a result my resting heart rate has shot up despite it usually dropping like a stone when I get back on plan. In fact is was dropping steadily until yesterday. Hopefully we get a nice long run before there are any more arguments, because there really isn’t much I can do about the situation.

There are many reasons I can’t and don’t even really want to move out, and I can’t change my mum’s attitude after so many years. My brother is too stubborn so I wouldn’t even attempt it. But being screamed at because it’s apparently your fault your mum doesn’t watch Casualty any more is not much fun. It sounds ludicrous writing it down, but it’s actually frightening because I genuinely think, no I know, that she needs help. Unfortunately I can’t seem to get it for her and the last attempt to calmly talk to her about it ended up with some great conspiracy about me and my brother basically gaslighting her because we are just awful people. Or so she thinks.

I don’t know, I just wish I could get her counselling or something, but when she saw the doctor about her depression getting worse he gave her the web address for Therapy 4 U. She watched stupid videos totally unrelated to anything she’s going through and filled out irrelevant multiple choice questionnaires. Needless to say it did not cure 50 years-worth of depression and anxiety. Weird that.

There are so many more layers to the situation, so many things that I could talk about that I don’t even know where to start. All I know is that these feelings need to be outside instead of bottled up inside.

Anyway, things are calm and civil between us all now. Fingers crossed it stays that way for a while.

The good thing (or the excellent thing I should say) is that I did NOT use food to comfort me. I’ve had an excellent on plan day today, and weirdly I seem to have (at least temporarily) acquired a willpower made of steel. I have two and a half Mini Vego bars in the fridge, which are absolutely delicious vegan chocolate bars with whole hazelnuts them. The problem is that even the Mini bars have almost twenty syns in them! Somehow, miraculously, two days this week I had a quarter of a bar and I still have half of one bar completely untouched. I haven’t gone over 12 syns any day this week! It’s complete madness, but I’m not knocking it that’s for sure. Long may it continue!

Another good thing is that between putting my washing on the line, it raining, taking it off the line, raining, putting it back on and eventually relenting and using the tumble drier, I got some lovely rainy autumn shots for the photo album. We did have an actual storm (not counting the one last night) and once the clouds had blown over everything was fresh and clean and lovely again.

We also have a mad amount of apples on the tree this year, so much so that some of the branches are nearly touching the ground. A lot of them have been partially eaten by unknown critters, but because it’s such a bumper year I think we have enough sacrificial apples to ensure there are plenty left for us too. Speed food that doesn’t cost a penny? Yes please!

Finally me and Pea had a wonderful day, and she let me touch her wing with my lips. Because she was parent-reared instead of hand-reared  she won’t let me touch her, she’ll only perch on me. So we’re working on our trust (lips are much less scary for birds than fingers) and hopefully, one day I’ll be able to scritch her neck and help preen new feathers coming throuh. The good thing about her being parent-reared is that she’s much less prone to behavioural issues, but I do sometimes wish I could touch her like my sister does with her birds. Mostly because I think it will be nice for Pea, for us to have that bond. Even if it never happens though, as long as she’s happy then I’m happy too.I h

I haven’t done as many steps as I’d like today, but I did do a 40 minute workout on the exercise bike so I’m not feeling as guilty as I would have otherwise. Now my plan is to escape into another universe, specifically the Marvel one!

I shall update again tomorrow with my official weigh in results. Eek!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

One For The Road

If you’ve been reading my blog for the last couple of weeks then this post will come as no surprise to you. I haven’t fallen off the wagon, I’ve just kind of stepped off for the evening. The thing is, I’m back at work tomorrow after three weeks off and I’m partly really looking forward to getting back into a proper routine and partly dreading the very thought. I’m not going crazy, I’m just having a some crumpets, avocadoes, and I really fancied a bottle of rosé, so that’s what I’m having.

Yesterday I watched Guardians of the Galaxy with the family, in preparation for Volume 2 being delivered today. Me and my brother have already seen the second one, but my mum hasn’t so we’re all sitting down together to watch it tonight. Then that’s it- once the film is over then it’s back to reality. I’m going to try and stay up as late as possible then sleep as much as I can during the day tomorrow, because I have to get back to my usual vampiric ways! It’s been really nice sleeping normally for a while though. I really feel that I’ve recharged my batteries, and that if this time off work hadn’t come when it did then I would have really struggled to cope. It all worked out OK in the end.

I’ve also been naughty in regards to weighing myself too often, but this week it’s actually worked out to my advantage. I weighed myself before, ahem, lady time and it showed a massive loss. But then lady time happened and now it shows a moderate loss. If I hadn’t seen that big loss then I’d be disheartened by what I saw after, but I know it’s just bloating and whatnot. I have no idea what the scales will show tomorrow, on official weigh day, but I have to be honest here and tell you exactly what’s going on. So if it’s a gain, it’s a gain, and I won’t try to hide it. Despite all of my ‘next weigh day will be fantastic!’ promises. I really do mean it when I say it, that’s the sad thing. Anyway I still intend to get all of my gains off by the end of the month – it ain’t over yet!

Yesterday was nice and active, which is handy because today I’ve just been chilling out in a spectacularly lazy fashion. Apart from doing a load of washing because I somehow only had one pair of undercrackers left, I’ve just lounged around reading. It’s actually been quite lovely!

Oh yes, I was going to tell you about yesterday. Me and the brother went to visit Lee Valley Regional Park. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite what we were after because it just doesn’t do a good enough job of making us feel like we’re away from civilisation. That’s been something of a theme with the last few places we’ve visited in fact. We walked around some lakes, and that was nice, but as we walked along the canal everything become more and more, well, disgusting. There was litter everywhere and people passing us were really rude, either just not wanting to walk single file down the narrow track or not even bothering to look up from their phones. It was really sad. But enough of that, on to the highlights!

It must be a great park for kids, because there are little sculptures to find all over the place. Some of them you are even encouraged to climb on, but I’ll come to that later.

The first lake we came to was filled with friendly swans. Well, as friendly as swans ever get I suppose!

Then, possibly for the first time ever, I saw some tufted ducks. I say possibly, because I may well have seen them before without noticing. But they’re certainly the first I’ve seen before I became interested in birds. I didn’t even notice them to begin with, despite their really cool yellow eyes. How did I not see that?

Tufted ducks are excellent divers, so I tried to get a shot of one mid-dive. They were just too fast though, so this is the closest I was able to get. But when I got home and reviewed my photos I noticed the little coot in the bottom right-hand corner.

I think he was coming up from a dive, but it looks like he’s just happily hanging out under water! 

I did see a heron but he was just too far away for me to get any kind of shot, and this cormorant was too far away for me to get a decent shot. This one will just have to suffice!

When we came to the canals we stopped for my brother to buy a cheese roll and a coke from an ice cream boat, as you do, and as we sat down we were treated to a couple of swans and their almost completely grown up swanling slowly making their way towards us.

And then, my favourite part of the day. We found a giant’s chair!

Although it seems like a pretty insignificant thing, I am really proud of this picture. For one, this time last year I would have been too self conscious to do this. And even if I had dared to, my arms are pretty weak (despite me trying to strengthen them with kettlebells) and there’s simply no way I would have been able to haul myself up. Yet here I am, posing for a photo. In a way it’s hard to believe that’s even me. But there I am, I even have proof. I wonder what kind of photos I’m going to be posting next year?

Do you know what, despite not entirely wanting to go back to work I am feeling really positive about the coming months. I really do find it so much easier to lose weight in the autumn and winter and I’m going to make so much progress. I’m going to make promises in this here blog, but instead of going back on them or making excuses I’m going to see them through.

The proof shall be, as they say, in the pudding (for want of a more slimming-friendly phrase!)

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Indoor and Outdoor Pursuits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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

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