The Scarcity Mindest

I’ve read so much about various subjects over the last year, but I am the absolute worst at remembering, well, anything. Details, what I’ve read, who wrote it… none of it sticks. However the scarcity mindset… that, I’m sure, is most definitely a thing.

I think it’s why I became so obsessed with food and drink. Looking back to April last year, in the end we were able to get plenty of food (despite the panic buyers going absolutely nuts), yet the moment I even percieved any kind of scarcity I wanted nothing more than the things I thought I couldn’t have.

When I did get my hands on pizza, ice cream and wine after queueing outsite Tesco for an hour-and-a-half, I started something that I’ve only just been able to stop.

This last year has most definitely made me more sensitive to this mode of thinking. Every week since Christmas I’ve decided, right, this is the last weekend I eat crap, truly believing it would be the last time I did it. And every single weekend I lasted, ooh, about half a day before I broke. Soooooo much money spent on food and alcohol (especially the impulse buys ordered via Uber for twice the price of the supermarket) over the last 12 months, it brings me out in a cold sweat. It’s done now though. I can’t take it back.

There’s another element to it. When I tried to get back on track I started feeling guilty for every single morsel that passed my lips. Even vegetables. I felt like I was being greedy going back to my old portion sizes (despite losing weight very successfully whilst easting them), and that I was broken now and I’d never be able to lose weight again. So I restricted myself too much, and the result of that was a corresponding binge. Am I really the same person who has lost seven stone SEVERAL TIMES OVER? Sometimes I wonder, because it seems I have to relearn the same lessons every. single. time.

The only way to get out of this pattern was to grit my teeth and get on with it. I had the feeling I needed to get through a single weekend without any blips, so I ate nice big portions of healthy food. The result was that, despite me being ‘greedy’, I actually ate less food overall. Success!

I managed to resist the thoughts trying to sabotage me into ordering takeaway, even when the intoxicating scent of a barbecue came wafting into the garden on Easter Sunday. I so love barbecues, which of course can be done quite healthily, but I just know it wouldn’t be five minutes before I started eating whole blocks of halloumi to myself.

The next morning, feeling quite smug, I got up early to meet a friend for a walk. We did six miles in total, and since I’m feeling so determined I got him to take a ‘before’ picture of me. I’d been too ashamed to do it until now.

That look on my face is because my balance is awful and that stump is taller than it looks, but I’m happy to say I made it through the photo shoot without any injuries. When I got in it did feel like I had a mild case of hypothermia, as despite it being gloriously warm and sunny on Sunday, on Monday we had snow. Of course we did. Damn British weather.

Going for walks is definitely getting easier already. I’m still a bit self-conscious, but the physical act of getting round my old routes is becoming a lot more manageable already. I’m surprised at the level of fitness I’ve kept, probably because I’m so active at work and in the garden. It’s just the hills that are a killer – on one particularly evil hill I’m having to stop half way up to catch my breath whereas before I could do it in one, but I’m already excited to report back when I’m back on top form. I don’t think it’ll be too long.

Spring is doing lots of springing in the woods right now, and I’m feeling rather pleased with myself that I’ve managed to indentify a load of stuff off the top of my head that I’d never heard of this time last year. Sweet violets, dog violets, anemones, cow parsley, cowslips, greater stitchwort, lesser celandine, ground ivy… every time I go there’s something new.

The following plant I came across on Sunday, but it wasn’t one I recognised. It did however look a bit iris-ey so when I got home I looked it up.

A strong contender for the plant was the stinking iris (see, I was on the right track) which is also known as a roast-beef plant. So-called because if you crush the leaves it apparently smells like beef. I saw another one on my Monday walk, so picked a leaf and crushed it between my fingers. It only bloody smells like beef! I asked my friend what he thought and he immediately said it smelled like an Oxo cube. How weird!

There was no walk today but I’ve been out working hard in the garden. One raised bed has been assembled, with a net thing that goes over it.

This is where the stuff that’s especially tasty to bugs will live – the cauliflower, broccoli and (if I’m not too late) cabbages. As I write it’s started snowing again, so who knows when I’ll actually be able to start planting stuff out.

Not yet is all I can say.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

The Overwhelm

I’ve been trying to write a blog post for a while but up until today that blank page has been a bit too intimidating. I haven’t known what to fill it with. I still don’t to be honest, but I figured it would be best to just get something out there. I feel like if I don’t make start now, even a half-arsed one, then I never will.

Everything’s a little bit overwhelming right now, and some have a theory as to why that might be. Can you believe it’s been over a year since the first UK lockdown? Some people reckon that the anniversary of the corona shit hitting the fan might be what’s making us all feel a little bit crappier than usual, but let’s face it, there are plenty of contenders for that these days.

Lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, and I’m not even feeling overly scared about it. I’m concerned of course – life going back to some semblance of normality is inevitably going to mean more cases, but the data for the vaccine looks good. It’s working! Although life isn’t going back to how it was pre-2020 any time soon, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. So why do I feel so meh?

I think it’s because I got so excited about what I could achieve last year. I had such grand plans for the house and garden, and now 2021 is here and it’s time to get started with those plans, I realised I don’t have the time or the energy. When I was furloughed it felt like I could do anything, but after being off work all that time I forgot that I’m usually there for such a huge portion of my life. I’m not a miracle worker. I need sleep to function, and as it happens, I need lots of it. I’m not a failure if I can’t manage to do all the things in one weekend.

I feel guilty that I won’t be building the shed I envisioned. That I haven’t put up the greenhouse. That I haven’t turned the garden into an oasis. But… who do I have to feel guilty to? No one, that’s who! I put so much pressure on myself that I managed to turn something I love into a monkey on my back. That is SO ME.

So over the last few days, I just got out into the garden with no particular agenda. No to-do list, the only plan was to get out there and see what I felt like doing.

Last year I planted so many bulbs, but when planting time came, again I was feeling a bit pants so my only goal was to get them in the ground so they didn’t rot. I didn’t think much about where I was putting them so they don’t have the impact that 300 bulbs could’ve had. However, by some happy accidents, it’s not all bad.

The area under the apple tree is my favourite by far. I have literally no memory of ordering any anemones, but they are the absolute star of the show. The bright purples, reds, and pinks are bringing me joy every time I look out into the garden, and they seem absolutely impervious to slugs and other pests. I’ll definitely be planting more of those for next year. They also happen to be cheap which is handy.

The bulbs in the rest of the garden are too spread out, but I’ll be remedying that next year. Probably. Unless I get sad.

Another thing that’s getting to me is my weight. When I wasn’t going out, not thinking about my appearance was easy. I had never been so comfortable in my own skin. My size just didn’t matter to me at all. But when I went back out into the world I realised that I simply cannot let go of the dream of being slim again.

It’s weirdly 20 degrees celcius out there right now, and although the decent weather is just a blip and typical British springtime will be returning in a couple of days, it’s made me think about how uncomfortable I’ll be at work if I carry on as I am. I’ve already gone through a winter of freezing my bits off as I can’t get adequate cold weather clothing to fit me.

I was doing ok until I reached the point of not being able to stand my own reflection any more, which has only happened over the last couple of weeks but still. Not ideal.

Something has to change.

I’ve been trying to quietly made positive changes over the last month, but every attempt has ended in failure. Therefore I’m going back to the old standby of writing about it here and hopefully staying on track for more than five minutes.

I’m trying not to dwell too much on weights and sizes, but the fact remains I’ve regained such a lot of weight. Since the end of 2018 I have gained a rather impressive seven stone. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s putting on the pounds. I am an expert.

Today met up for a walk and a coffee with my sister and Newton, since that is legal now, which has made me realise how much I need to start getting out regularly again. My size has meant that I’ve avoided leaving the house if I can, which HAS TO STOP!

Besides, if I hadn’t gone out then I wouldn’t have seen sunbathing terrapins in the park. It’s not every day you see that, right?!

I need to make diet and exercise my priority again, but no matter what I choose to do, be it gardening, art, exercise, I always feel guilt over the thing I’m not doing. Which is so stupid, since I’m an adult and it’s up to me what I do in my spare time.

Sigh. I suppose I’d better crack on with it and not think too much. I’m sure once I start making progress I’ll perk up!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Babies

Excuse me? It’s February now? It seems I’m falling into a pattern of one post a month so I guess it’s time to get writing.

I’m a lot less stressed than I was when I last posted, and this is because I have stopped trying to control things I can’t control. After a lengthy meeting at work with my shift manager, it seems that (at work at least), people cannot be made to wear masks or made to social distance. If they want to kill or make seriously ill their siblings, children, parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues, or anyone else they come into contact with, that’s absolutely fine as long as the parties breaking the rules together consent. The only right I have is to stop people encroaching my personal space. So there it is. I took it as far as I could and got nowhere so I have decided to let go of this feeling of total responsibility in my head. If anyone comes to close to me however, god help them!

All I can do is stay as safe as I can and screw everyone else.

It’s harder now than it has been since the beginning of Covid though, because I am OH SO CRAVING PHYSICAL INTIMACY. I’ve made huge progress as far as my relationships go over the last year or two, and I know full well I have no desire for romantic love. I am exactly enough exactly as I am, and unless they want to come help with the gardening I have no desire at all for a partner. I’m not without love though. I despise the Covid rule-breakers but I absolutely CHERISH the good people in my life right now. We don’t talk enough about the genuine love we feel for our friends in our society.

Still though, I’d dearly love to have some fun and snuggle a warm body, before kicking them out the door in the morning.

Because I care about people other than myself, even people I’ve never met (can you imagine? Many can’t) I won’t be meeting up with anyone outside my household, as much as I’d like to. Although this makes me sad, I’m also a bit in shock. I was feeling bummed last weekend, was able to sit back, listen to what my feelings were trying to tell me and figure out what was wrong. That was half the battle really. Gosh I do love a bit of healthy progress!

Maybe this is something other people do anyway? I wouldn’t know. For me this is MASSIVE.

So if I haven’t been intimate with anyone then why do I want to talk about babies? That’s because it’s all about the plant babies now!

I’ve been doing a bit of experimenting in my bedroom greenhouse. Some things I’ve seen others do, like starting off chillies, peppers and aubergines under grow lights. It seems to be widely known that this will actually work, and so far it appears to be going quite well. Since I have literally thousands of radish seeds, I decided to try sowing a few and see what would happen.

It was not a success. They got so ridiculously leggy that they could not support their own weight and fell over. They did make me giggle though. What were they actually trying to achieve?

My windowsill dahlias seem to be doing well (Dahlia Mignon, a freebie with my last Gardeners’ World mag) and the echinacea have started making an appearance too.

I have my first EVER germinated strawberries. I tried strawberries last year from a stocking-filler but the instructions were wrong and I didn’t know any better. I didn’t get any strawberry action whatsoever. Now, however…

I have other varieties to sow later on, so I’m very hopeful we will have actual strawberries this year. You really cannot beat a homegrown strawberry.

Other things doing well so far are onion, hollyhock, lemongrass, dolichos, rocket, lobelia and laurentia. That’s just my January sowing. These are all things that can be sowed in February:

It doesn’t end here, because my houseplant obsession has now reached an unstoppable momentum. I assumed for a long time that I simply couldn’t keep plants alive. The easiest things are supposed to be cacti and succulents right? You know, the plants that THRIVE on neglect? Well not for me. I just cannot keep them alive!

After trying ‘real’ plants and finding that, actually, I’m pretty good at looking after them, I decided to expand my collection.

Plant-buying can be expensive. I keep eyeing up a rare pilea right now which is £50, but your average plant babies are a good place to start.

These are my January payday purchases:

Here we have Chinese money plant, rose painted calathea, begonia maculata, tradescantia ‘nanouk’, string of hearts, another kind of calathea (the website didn’t say which), heartleaf philodendron and asparagus fern.

All of these were around the £5 mark and nearly all of them are supposed to be super easy to propagate. Baby plants means (one day) an inexpensive way to get healthy adults plants. But more importantly, LOTS OF THEM. I intend to make my room into a jungle.

For the garden I have started growing some parsnip tops. I have parsnip seeds for this year, but I’m also hoping to get these to flower because parsnip flowers are surprisingly lovely. They were only going in the compost bin anyhow. This one is two weeks old:

Also on the propagation front, I prepped these avocado stones in NOVEMBER and now they are finally showing some sort of life. Which is good because I’ve found it impossible to throw away an avocado stone since then and have several many, many more on the go.

Obsessed? Moi? I don’t know what you mean.

Hayley x

Tulip Fever

Holy flip it’s January. On the one hand it feels like we’ve been living with COVID forever, but on the other it’s seems like it was only yesterday I was discussing this ‘new flu’ with a work colleague and thinking (hoping) it wouldn’t amount to anything. A year later (shit) and we have had our first COVID death in the family, with great aunty Theresa sadly passing away this weekend.

There are still the people who think it isn’t real, and I still want to cause them physical harm. I don’t for two reasons. One, I can’t afford to lose my job. Two, if I put them in hospital it’s just more strain on the NHS. I don’t know how NHS workers do it. For me the Hippocratic oath would go out the window- I personally believe if you don’t wear a mask but aren’t exempt and if you wilfully break the rules just because you’re a selfish arse then you should be banned from receiving medical care for the rest of your miserable life. Can you tell I’m angry? I’m flipping LIVID.

In areas at work where it’s difficult to social distance we have to wear masks. I reported one guy who took his mask off to eat a banana whilst standing right next to another guy also not wearing a mask. I reported him too, and it’s worth mentioning that we aren’t even allowed food in the warehouse because we have a rat problem*. The next thing I hear, the first guy has told all of my colleagues that I reported him because I’m a ‘dirty bitch and got turned on’ by him eating the banana. What a charmer. The next week he was off work when his daughter had a positive COVID test come back. This is the crap I have to deal with in my workplace and despite trying there’s actually not a damn thing I can do about it. No one will back me up because they don’t want to be a snitch. I’m told that ‘snitches get stitches’. Jesus I couldn’t make this crap up.

*I once witnessed a rat dragging off a whole banana that was bigger than itself. The rat was NOT SMALL.

The fact remains, reporting people does nothing because there are no consequences apart from they may get bored of being told off. No action is taken beyond them being spoken to. Although managers monitor certain areas at certain times of the day, as soon as the manager looks in another direction the mask comes off. On Saturday one manager asked three people sitting in a 2m space to social distance. One person stood up and moved about 6 inches to one side. The manager didn’t say anything else.

On the plus side the UK vaccination program seems to be actually going well, and now the Christmas and New Year infections are tailing off the death rate should now start falling. As the weather improves things should get even better. It just breaks my heart that things got this bad, because it didn’t have to be this way. What’s done is done though, we just have to keep going.

I did find the period after Christmas really difficult because the last thing to look forward to was over and all I could see in the future was doom and gloom. It was very hard to try and stay in the moment, and that was when I was angriest. Angry and more scared than ever that I’d take COVID home and wipe out half my family.

Still, the hardest part of the season for me wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be. I’ve just finished reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and it’s such a wonderful book- it’s just full to the brim of hope. I read it for free using the BorrowBox library app, which I cannot recommend enough. Especially as actual libraries are closed for this lockdown.

The garden was such a help for me in 2020 so I was really worried I wouldn’t cope well without it, but to be honest there weren’t many times where there wasn’t something gardening-related to do to keep me occupied. I have some fun houseplant projects I’ve started, but I can’t say too much about that because I hope to give some things away as gifts later on in the year. I’ve been working on these things since November 6th!

Gradually between October and December I got HUNDREDS of bulbs planted. I just love bulbs, and I have everything crossed the tulips flower in their first year. I already have a little clump of something coming up, which I’m fairly sure is a clutch of snowdrops.

Things are generally a mystery though, because I didn’t label a thing and just scattered all the bulbs around the garden randomly. I also had a hundred or so bulbs donated from my friends mum and since even she doesn’t know what they were (she moved and dug them up from her new garden) I have no hope of identifying them till they flower.

We had a bluebell appear in the front garden a few years ago. Now it’s established I lifted and divided it. Now we have seven bluebells. Everyone knows, seven bluebells are better than one! They’re looking so lovely and healthy. What a joy!

My sowing has already begun for the year, because of course I did what any normal person would do and bought a greenhouse for my bedroom, a grow light and a heat mat. I’ve been told it looks like I’m growing something I shouldn’t, but if the police do break the door down then the only consumables I’ll be able offer is a few radishes and some rocket. In 6-8 weeks time in any case.

I started my chillies early because I did it much too late last year. They had only just started flowering when we got to autumn so there was no chance of getting fruit. This year I should be successful though, and I also had some aubergines sprout up yesterday. The excitement I felt last spring is back already, much sooner than I thought it would be. Tomorrow I’ll be sowing dahlia and echinacea seeds that came free with my Gardeners’ World magazine.

I’ve had a really great couple of weeks, art-wise. I’ve done a few bits and bobs I was really happy with, but following a prompt to draw ‘a toad sitting in a tree wearing a green hat’ was the most fun ever. I’m so proud, because up until now I could draw things I could see but would struggle to create anything truly unique. I could google tree, toad and hat and cobble a picture together, but this one was all me, drawn using my imagination, my iPad and nothing else. Apart from the absolutely inspired prompt, that is.

This is truly an arty turning point for me, and I even have a commission to draw a colleague’s gorgeous doggos. I’ve done a couple of initial sketches in preparation and I think he’s going to be chuffed. I’ll show you when I’m done!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Something New

If my post has popped up on your feed and you’re wondering who the hell I am, that’s because I’m giving my blog an overhaul, including the title. This year I have been obsessed with all things creative – drawing, painting, digital art (obsession is an understatement), sewing, growing, and making plans for decorating and building. The title Words by Hayley didn’t cut it anymore, so now it’s all about anything and everything.

I went with ‘Big Ginge’, which is my nickname at work. Well, only one person calls me that because there are only about three people out of 200 that I give the time of day to at work now. There are too many selfish people who don’t care about social distancing or wearing masks because they aren’t in an at-risk group. As far as I’m concerned they can do one. I’ve lost friends, sooooo many friends, but I don’t want to associate with anyone who has no regard for anyone but themselves. I shan’t say more on the subject because it TRULY ENRAGES ME and I can’t take much more of it.

Deep breath.

Aaaaanyway…

Somehow, simply by virtue of allowing myself to be crap, I stopped worrying about my art being crap. When that happened, my creativity just exploded. I have never felt so happy with my creative output than I have this year.

As I started to allow the crapness, I also started getting better and now I have this whole new idea of what I’m capable of. I can’t wait to get started on next years plans – one of which is a shed that I’m going to build from scratch. I really am so excited to share the whole process with you!

The only criteria for anything I create from now on is simple – I have to enjoy doing it.

It’s been so long since I last wrote, but instead of having tons to say I find that the longer I leave it the harder it is for the words to come. I will get back to posting regularly, but until then, I’ll leave you with some pictures.

I promise not to leave it so long next time!

Hayley x