Warley Place

Mr. S is so awesome. Even though we had work yesterday he called to say he was taking me somewhere as a surprise. It was only a ten minute drive away, but it was somewhere I’d never been and that he both knew I’d love and would provide nice photo opportunities.

The place in question was Warley Place, the remnants of an Edwardian house and gardens. It was made famous (although I’d never heard of it personally) by Ellen Ann Willmott in the 1880’s who was big in the world of horticulture. She had a team of over 100 gardeners, immense greenhouses and an alpine garden. She was even visited by Queen Mary, Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria, but now all that’s left is ruins.

The site is now leased to the Essex Wildlife Trust, and they’ve been working to restore what they can whilst still making a home for nature. And it’s amazing how quickly nature has reclaimed the space in such a short amount of time.

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It was a beautiful day and such a nice gesture from Mr. S. I’m not sure if he’s extra nice or everyone who came before him was just a bit crap, but no one has ever been that thoughtful towards me before.

He’s also the first person who ever wanted to take pictures of me, which to be honest since I’ve lost weight I’m loving. It’s still a novelty to see a picture of me that I don’t hate so when he shows me I’m happy to have a record of a nice memory rather than being mortified.

He took this one while we were in the bird hide:

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Whenever I look at that picture I’ll be thinking ‘ah what a lovely day that was’ rather than ‘ugh, I was so miserable back then’. You can’t put a price on that feeling.

I’m now on day four of being super good and on plan, and I’m starting to get excited about my health and fitness again. I’ve also already noticed that, ahem, I’m less windy and the wind I do emit is a lot nicer for those around me. TMI? Of course, but then it’s good for others to know that there are other benefits of eating healthily that they might not have considered before.

My number one new thing that I’ve loved this week is the Alpro dark chocolate desserts, which are 5.5 syns each. They go perfectly with some summery strawberries.

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So food is spot on, but it’s taking a little while to get back to top form as far as fitness is concerned. I trained on Tuesday and it was really hard going. Mr. S said it was probably just anxiety but I just couldn’t regulate my breathing properly and I really struggled. We trained again today, locally because we were short on time, and things went much better. I’m walking into town tomorrow then training properly on Saturday, so I hope things will be back to normal by then.

If not it won’t be long before they are.

Right then, it’s time to pay some attention to the third part of the holy trinity of health. I need to get some bloody sleep!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Most Pleasing!

All good things must come to an end, and my holiday is one of them. I did intend to blog while I was away, but every single moment was just completely jam packed and I didn’t give it a single thought once I’d left my house. Until now that is.

We got to our beautiful cottage on Tuesday afternoon, and although we’d seen pictures it was better than we could have imagined. After all, a picture can’t describe the stream we could hear or the little bleating lambs! We stayed in the village of Wincle (yes, actually pronounced winkle *snigger*) and it was beautiful. 

I’m not sure how big the village actually is, but what we saw of it was just one street with a few cottages, a pub, a microbrewery and a fishery.

It took us a little while to get to our cottage as once we’d got out of the car we were greeted by a lovely lady walking her dog, Rocky. It turns out she permanently lives next door to the cottage we were staying in (all of the other residents live there full time), and afterwards as we made our way down the little row all of the other neighbours came out to say hello, too.

Everyone was just so friendly, but the couple we got speaking to in the pub probably had the edge. They were talking about their favourite local walks, and by the time we’d finished our drinks they’d been home to photocopy the route and instructions and left it at the bar for us. How lovely is that?

After just relaxing for the first evening, and perhaps drinking a little too much wine, the next day we went to Mam Tor. Who doesn’t love a good Tor? The weather was stunningly beautiful but not too hot (perfect for walking) and me and Mr. S got to discover how terrible we both are at reading maps.

Thankfully there were plenty of people around to help us, and we got where we were aiming to go eventually.

Day two we started off in Dovedale for a nice big circular walk. I don’t remember exactly what villages we ended up going through, but it was another beautiful day. And once we’d got out of Dovedale itself, which is nice but a little bit tame for my liking, we barely saw another person.

The last day in the cottage wasn’t all blue skies like the previous days, and we were pretty tired by this point (perhaps we may have been burning the candle at both ends…) so we decided to do the recommended walk to Lud’s church, which also meant we didn’t have to drive anywhere first.

We started off with a nice forest-y, windy walk alongside a river then after climbing steeply we ended up in a huge cleft in the rock which was created by a landslip. It’s not actually a church as such, but supposedly an illegal religious sect used it as a secret meeting place in the 15th century. Either way, it definitely has that churchy kind of feel about it! Again we were the only ones there, and where the moss that covered absolutely everything muffled the sound and made it extra spooky.

After the fourth night in the cottage we were booked up to stay in a hotel in Sheffield for the final night of our holiday. As such we both agreed that we had to be in bed by 10pm so we could pack and make sure the cottage was tidy before we left.

However, things did not go to plan. We started our walk pretty much exhausted, but when we got back to the village we decided to just stop off in the pub before going back to the cottage. Of course, one drink led to another and everything got a little bit hazy after that. At 1:30am one of us had the good sense to check the time, and we finally got ourselves to bed.

I managed to wake up early so I packed and cleaned most of the things and we just managed to get out in time and leave everything immaculate. However I was wondering how we were going to cope out on the town in Sheffield as we were both just so tired.

Somehow though, we just kept going. Mr. S got to watch his football match, then after that we headed back to the hotel to get changed into fancy things. After that the best way of finding out what the hell we got up to was by checking my bank account the next day and seeing how many different bars we’d visited!

Every night of the holiday we’d been… ‘jolly’ shall we say, and every night the time just ran away from us. This night it sprinted though, because when I checked my watch it was HALF PAST FRIKKIN FIVE IN THE MORNING!!! 

Since checkout was at 11am, there was just no way either one of us was going to get sober enough to drive home, and if we hung around the city until we were, there’s no way either one of us would be awake enough to drive home.

So at 7am I went to speak to reception and we managed to stay in our room for an extra night.

Mr. S couldn’t sleep in the morning, but I managed to get a couple of hours so I went out to explore. Literally a few days ago I started following a company (Joni) on Facebook who sell vegan croissants, and when I checked my news feed (while I was working on the will to get out of bed) I noticed an update from them – they were at a food festival that was going on right outside our hotel window! 

I was clearly meant to have my first croissant since becoming vegan, and it was clearly meant to be delicious. They had two varieties so I ended up having both – they were deep filled with so much chocolate and they were oh so good. Better than any buttery version I’ve tried (and believe me, I’ve eaten A LOT of croissants).

After eating dessert I looked for a savoury treat and also had my first pasty since becoming vegan! The Proper Pasty Co have two vegan varieties – spicy Mediterranean veg and apple and blackcurrant. Sadly the sweet one was sold out, but then I didn’t really need it anyway.

In the evening we went to Pizza Express for dinner (it was very scrummy indeed, plus I’m LOVING their app which you can use to pay the bill) and then we actually managed to get an early night as intended for the first time.

A truly honourable mention has to go to Make No Bones. It’s a vegan café in Sheffield and I’ve been hearing people raving about their food since before went vegan. When we first got into the city we made a detour to try their wares – it was my condition for sitting through the football you see.

By the time we got there I was so hungry I ordered avocado fries, sticky seitan ribs with ‘blue cheese’ sauce, a kebab and a PB&J cheesecake. I practically inhaled it so I didn’t get any pictures, but the food is INCREDIBLE. So if you have the chance to go, even if it’s right out of your way and you have a tired and hungry Mr. S trying to talk you out of it, then GO!

As it happens Mr. S (an omnivore) had a vegan Philly cheesesteak. Although he wasn’t expecting to like it he actually bloody loved it!

I have just a couple more things to mention before I go – Somehow, miraculously, I managed to LOSE a whole two pounds while I was away. I have no idea how. I have drunk and eaten whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and yet I seem to be maintaining my weight spectacularly without even trying!

However, I do want to knuckle down and lose some more weight now so it’s back on plan for me.

Finally, although I expected to be self-conscious around Mr. S I surprised myself at how much I was at ease with my body. So I don’t think I have too long to go before I’ll be content with how I look. My ex never took a single picture of me while we were together, but Mr. S was snapping away the whole time and I like almost all of what he took. I did not expect to feel this way about myself so it’s come completely out of the blue and is also rather marvellous!

Despite feeling pretty bummed at my holiday ending, I’m also pretty excited for the future!

I’ll be telling you about it in more regular blogs from now on. Normal service is henceforth resumed!

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x