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

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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

The Last Supper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To everyone else, thank you for reading!

Hayley x

Hatfield Forest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley x

An Incontinence of Yellowlegs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

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

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