Little Exposures and Some Artifacts

We’ve had some more laughs in our household this week. Well, I say we, but what I really mean is I have had some laughs, because I seem to have reverted to behaving like a 6-year-old. Eating well for a bit has not been going well. Onions don’t agree with me at the best of times, but when my brother excitedly announced his favourite Indian were still open for deliveries I couldn’t help asking him to order me a portion of bhajis. Not only have I been torturing my poor mother with my emissions (it’s been oh so hilarious), I’ve also been sending ‘voice notes’ to various friends and family. What’s more, I’ve had plenty of ‘voice notes’ in return, and it never fails to amuse. Weirdly, most people I’ve contacted seem to be entertained/downright impressed and I think I’ve spread some happiness along with my unearthly gasses.

If any of you were under the impression that I am at all mature or ladylike, I hate to break it to you but you are waaaaaay off the mark. Inside I am about 80% the most uncouthest of prepubescent boys, along with 20% elderly old lady.

As such, my love affair with the garden continues to develop. Is it just me who thinks of old people when they think of gardening? Perhaps it’s because my grandparents were into it in a major way. On the one side of the family I have memories of being allowed to pick a bunch of flowers from the garden once in a while. My favourites were marigolds, pansies and snapdragons (who doesn’t love a snapdragon I ask you?) On the other side, my nan would always be growing broad beans, which I loved to help pick and put through the bean stringer. It was a simple little plastic contraption with a number of blades in it that was incredibly satisfying to use, and it was almost as good as eating home grown strawberries straight from the garden with sugar and cream. Ok, maybe not quite as good.

Up until now I’ve found the concept of gardening way too overwhelming, but I’m learning to not overthink it and just go out and try, without worrying about doing stuff wrong. I will do stuff wrong, it’s inevitable. But I will learn more as I go along. I’m also absorbing loads of new information just by exposing myself to gardening and wildflower accounts online. Without realising, I’ve been putting away little nuggets of information which pop up when I least expect it.

The other day I was out digging up an immense thistle when I spotted a little purple flower hidden amongst the grass and weeds. See it?

I actually have no idea how I spotted it. Let’s get in a little closer…

Because of my gradual absorption of flower information, the word ‘speedwell’ popped into my head when I saw it. The pictures I’ve seen of speedwells so far are much, much bigger than this, but I was right. I’m pretty sure this is a wall speedwell, but the other varieties you are more likely to find in woods are indeed a lot bigger.

Yesterday I was out in the front garden, clearing up poop. The neighbour’s cats seem to love to use it as a toilet, and I can hardly complain since our cats use to go out and no doubt pooped all over the place.

Once the poop was removed, I stumbled across a wood sorrell, more tiny hairy bittercress, some sort of pupa plus a load of old rubbish, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Neither my phone or any lenses currently in my possession were suitable for taking pictures of tiny things, so I’ve been on something of a spending spree. This week a rather old, second-hand macro lens arrived. Because it’s old, it’s very noisy, so I won’t be creeping up on any animals with it. But for stuff that’s simply growing, it’s perfect.

As for the rubbish, when our estate was built the housing association started to run out of money by the time they got to our bit. To cut down on costs, instead of paying for the rubble to be taken away, they buried it. As you do.

This is what I’ve found so far this week:

I’ve decided to start making collections of things I find, which I’ll start to separate into plastic, metal, tile etc. One day I might make some sort of mosaic from the tile. I think that would be pretty cool.

This was inspired by one of my favourite Twitter accounts at the moment, @legolostatsea. In 1997, 5 million bits of lego fell into the sea, and it’s still being found to this day. I’m almost desperate to get to a beach and start collecting, well, rubbish, because not only does it sound like fun but it’s also helping clean up beaches. It’s a win-win.

In the meantime, I’ll just collect crap I find at home, which I’m really enjoying anyway. Have I just completely gone mad? That’s up to you to decide. Since I don’t appear to be a danger to myself or others, I’ve decided to just go with it. What’s the worst that can happen?

Because of my fantastic lens purchase, I can now show you my favourite weed. This is what I used to see – a pretty ordinary looking patch of… something.

It’s a red dead-nettle, and it’s so common you’d probably be able to find it yourself within ten minutes of leaving the house. But when you look closer…

It’s so beautiful and delicate. How have I never noticed that before? The things I’ve been growing myself are coming along nicely, I’m just waiting for the weather to perk up again before I transplant them into the garden.

Future plans include enticing hedgehogs and a pond, but I’ll write more about that another day. For now, me and my green fingers are done with typing for the day, and the plants demand to be watered.

Thanks for reading,

Hayley x

Duality

Every time I want to write about something positive I feel I have to start with a disclaimer, but I decided that from today I’m going to let go of that guilt. After a quick disclaimer of course! I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter recently, which comes with a disclaimer all of its own. Twitter is a funny old platform, it seems to inspire so much hatred and bile in the people who use it. I don’t post much myself, but even the people I follow who post about the most seemingly innocuous things – even flowers – will end up being targets for the trolls.

It can be a mine of information though, if used carefully, and one person I follow is also one of my favourite Instagram people, Michelle Elman. She very helpfully put into words what I’ve been trying to say but couldn’t.

You can see the thread on Twitter/follow her here, follow her on Instagram here, or even go and buy her book here. I highly recommend doing all three.

So yes, that. Just because I’m trying to focus on small, positive things (because that’s what helps me personally) that make me happy doesn’t mean that I’m not simultaneously experiencing a whole load of other less pleasant emotions. Let’s just make space for the good stuff too.

One of my happiest moments from the weekend came in the form of a message from my sister. Newton’s brother’s owners found him through Instagram and sent a message, which I think is possibly the sweetest thing I’ve heard in a long, long time.

I really hope I get to meet him one day! It’s also crazy how their colouring is so different yet they look so alike. Flipping adorable.

Saturday was a good day. I spent the early afternoon in the garden doing a little prep for the evening, as me and the little brother had a plan. We had a dead tree cut down a while ago, so of course a little bonfire was in order.

Whilst collecting old paving stones to make a little fire pit I took my time looking at all the smaller details in the garden. A not-so-small find was a massive earthworm that actually frightened me a bit when I first saw it. I haven’t seen a worm that big since I was a kid. I did what any rational adult would do – put it in a pot, took it to show my brother, then released it back into the wild. He suggested putting it in a pie and feeding it to my mum, which yes, would have been hilarious, but she’d also never forgive us.

Mooching around in the garden done, I went for a small nap and waited for darkness. Fires are always better at night, and in any case I’m bloody loving nap time lately.

You’d think that living together and not going out would mean me and the ‘little’ bro (he’s fast approaching 30 and is taller than me) wouldn’t have much to talk about, but we were out in the garden for hours. Me with a bottle of red wine, and him with a couple of bottles of beer I’d secretly bought him as a gift for this very occasion. I am a good sister.

We’re quite similar in that we enjoy burning stuff (not in the arson kind of way) and we love companionable silence. As such he’s an excellent fireside buddy – plenty of time was also spent just watching the flames and enjoying the warmth. It was a very wholesome evening, especially as I got to play with long exposures. It’s such great fun, and you don’t need anything fancy to give it a go. Well, unless you count having an iPhone as being particularly fancy. Which I suppose it is when you consider the cost…

Anyway, if you take a live photo and then open the picture in your gallery, you can scroll down and choose long exposure. Then the picture on the left will turn into something like the picture on the right.

Or if you happen to have a DSLR handy, you can do something like this…

Cool, huh?

At the end of the night we hadn’t burned the house down so we extinguished the fire (we really got some heat going – it took three large watering cans before it stopped sizzling) and went to bed feeling pleasantly fuzzy.

Drinking alcohol is DEFINITELY something I don’t want to make a habit of during lockdown. I felt really anxious on Sunday and the bottle of wine was probably why, plus I’ve had a massive five pound gain. My next goal is to get into the 14 stone bracket, which is a hefty 12 pounds away now. We absolutely plan make a fire again (I’m going to try to source some veggie marshmallows in the meantime), but I’m going to wait until I’ve achieved that goal first for sure.

It helps me to have structure and something to aim for.

Now we’re in a new week I’m going to spend the entire 7 days on plan and carry on edging slowly towards my goals. I’ll keep you posted.

Take care,

Hayley x