Tuesday 18 June 2024

Garden Renovation Update - June 2024

I posted a few months ago about our current garden renovation project. We're trying to completely overhaul our garden this year, as it has deteriored markedly over the past few years, as a consequence of our neglect. Life just gets busy sometimes.

Here's the current view from the back door:

It's a jungle out there and the garden has been officially declared a building site:

Phase one of the renovation was preparing the end of the garden for the building of a garden room/shed. OH had done this very well and the dissembled garden room arrived on his birthday a few weeks ago. Due to us going away for the Bank Holiday weekend to attend a family wedding, nothing really got done with it, but since we returned, he has been carving out a bit of time here and there from being busy at work, to start to build the shed.

Here is how far he got a week ago:

He hadn't painted preservative on the front yet, but had started with the sides and back, as they are the less accessible parts. We can paint the front anytime. It's coming together well and fitted perfectly into the space with just a few inches to spare. The floor was the last bit to build. It's been very exciting seeing it go up. I can't wait until it's fully built.

The rest of the garden is just begging for attention. There's a table full of plants to put in, including the super pretty pink pelargonium I bought last week. There are some flowers here and there, such as this profusion of small pink geraniums in the border outside the back door. They come back year after year and the bees love them.

This Johnson's Blue geranium by the gate is also very pretty and has flowered well this year.

The cherry tree, which is now huge, has quite a few cherries on it, which should be ripe enough to pick soon. I've been picking and eating a few each day for the last few days and they are very tasty. Once all the fruit has been harvested, this tree is going to get a serious prune back, as it's got a bit out of hand in the last few years.

We will be losing one of our two raised beds once the garden room is built, as it will be a little too close to the doors and we want to make a space to sit out in the middle of the garden. In all honesty, we don't use both beds to their full potential due to having the allotment.

Just a little update here. Progress is being made, but things always look worse before they get better. I'll post again when the shed is finished and the garden is looking a bit tidier.

Sunday 16 June 2024

A More Interesting Week - W/E 15th June 2024

This week began with a day off on Sunday. There was a summer fete taking place on the common in a part of the borough that I used to frequent a lot when LB was small. We used to go every year. There are always stalls, entertainment and a dog show, and it was always a nice afternoon out with the added bonus of contributing money towards the local community. 

I decided to walk there. It was about a half an hour walk away. I wanted to get some steps in, so I set off and then OH met me there after hiring a Lime bike (electric bikes that you can hire to get around London). He'd been out cycling and needed to shower before coming back out.

When I got there I looked around a couple of stalls. My first stop was the plant stall, of course. I bought a couple of small nasturium plants for 50p each, as some that I'd sown hadn't grown. I also bought a beautiful and delicate geranium which was a white/purple colour and another indoor trailing plant, each of which cost £2. Here's a picture of the pretty geranium flowers:

I then bought a black dress and a book from another stall. The book was this biography type book about Debbie Harry of Blondie fame for £1. It looked really interesting.  By this time OH had come to meet me and we wandered around a little more before getting some food from one of the food stalls. Today, it was burgers and a salad bowl, followed by some almond cake, washed down with elderflower cordial. All very home made by dad's on the BBQ and very tasty. We ate it whilst watching local teenage bands perform on the event stage.

We spent a nice nostalgic few hours there and then walked home. It was lovely to go out and do something together and OH got a rest from building the shed, which he desperately needed. When I got home, I started reading the Debbie Harry book and it really is quite a good read so far.

On Monday, I got up and went for a run. After a day off resting, my pace was a little faster than it had been of late. I'd really slowed down since running the 5K.

I then got changed and headed out to do the weekly shop out of town. I somehow managed to tweak my back whilst shopping in Lidl by lifting something from a shelf. Not good. 

I did my usual stop off in my favourite charity shop and found a few nice things to wear for the gym and take on holiday with me. It's my fortnightly treat to myself to visit this shop, as I always find something I like and it's very reasonably priced with very few items costing more than £5.

Tuesday, started with my usual class at the gym, which I always enjoy. When I got home, LB was home for a few hours.  She'd been to visit a store where she's applied for a summer job, so dropped in to see us. It was lovely to see her and catch up with her news, even though it's only been a couple of weeks since we all went to the family wedding.  She's been very busy finishing work at Uni to meet deadlines and still has a bit more to do this week before she's finished for the summer. I'm looking forward to having her home for the summer months.

OH took the day off work on Tuesday and Wednesday and focussed on getting the shed roof and doors finished so that it was watertight. It's really taking shape now and it is so exciting. It's surprising how dark it is inside the shed with the roof on though, so I need to figure out how we're going to light it, as there's no electricity supply unless we run a cable from the house. I'm sure we'll figure something out.

In the evening, I was due at work. Work was surprisingly busy, so it passed pretty quickly.

On Wednesday, I woke up with a sore back, so I decided to give my run a miss. I had lots of jobs I wanted to do before I was due to head out and meet some friends for supper.

OH did more work on the shed. All that's left to do is to put in the floor, paint the front with preservative and paint a finish to the inside, but we can do that anytime that we have spare time. He's done an amazing job building it. It has saved us so much money. In total it will have cost us just over £3000, which for a garden building of this size, which virtually gives us another room and storage, is great value. It would have cost so much more to get someone else to put it together.

I now need to make progress on the sofa cover and think about making or finding a curtain to partition the part of the shed we're going to use for storage, which was always the plan.

In the evening on Wednesday, as mentioned, I met a couple of friends for supper. It was nice to catch up with them and their news. One friend has become a grandma since I saw her last, which was very exciting. I took a little gift for the baby, which I've been told the parents liked, which is good.

On Thursday, I decided to do some cleaning. It was long overdue. I focussed on the two reception rooms, which I needed to change over for the summer months. We tend to use the front reception room in the summer and then retreat to the smaller snugger back reception room through the winter, as it is much more cosy. I'm a bit late doing the changeover this year, but better late than never.

I completed the cleaning on Friday after going for a run and to an appointment at the doctor's. Once again, I was vacuuming up all our dog's hair, which I didn't really want to do, but some guests we've got coming later in the summer probably won't want to see it on the furniture, so it had to be done at some point. I'm sure bits will keep turning up unexpectedly for months to come. I also did a bit of cleaning in the kitchen, which is the next room that needs blitzing. I may attempt that next week.

Also on Friday, a barbell that I'd ordered arrived. I decided to buy one online to use alongside my dumbells and kettlebells, once the shed is fully built. I was finally able to put the weights we'd bought from the tip shop in Yorkshire onto it and try it out which was very cool. They are plenty heavy enough for me for a long while yet.

I was working on Friday and Saturday evening this week and didn't really do much before work on Saturday, save going to the gym and doing a bit of shopping locally on my way home. Work was busy both nights. 

Whilst I was at work on Saturday, OH started work on the shed floor, packing out the ground under the floor joists with the gravel we'd bought and pavers, so that the flooring could be laid.

It was a slightly more interesting week this week, with definitely lots of progress being made, which made it a good week.

Monday 10 June 2024

Weight Loss/Fitness Journey - 1 Year On

I realised this morning when I got up, that yesterday marked exactly one year since I started my weight loss and fitness journey, so I thought I'd make a post in honour of that.

It's been an interesting year, with lots of positive benefits to myself and those around me as I feel so much better in myself and that is bound to have a knock on effect on those closest to me.

When I started my journey, I didn't have a very positive image towards myself and my body. I felt old, overweight, lethargic. My facial features were puffy and bloated and I felt like I looked 10 years older than my actual age.

Fast forward to today and I almost feel like a different person.  The bloated face is gone, I've gone down from a UK size 18/20 to a UK size 12/14 (more a 14) and my body composition is slowly changing to one that is much more toned with better muscle definition. I feel stronger and more energetic and have added running to my exercise regime, which although secretly wishing I could, never thought I actually would. I'm even eating porridge some days, which I never imagined I would ever do. (I was always a tea and crumpets girl at heart - for breakfast)

It's been a long slow process of losing a pound a week, which over a year has added up to nearly 3 stone in weight. In recent months, I've not really lost any weight and seem to have hit a bit of a plateau. I know this is probably due to my nutrition and not feeding my body enough protein.  There is still work to do in this regard, but I'm slowly trying to improve my diet to fuel my body more efficiently.

My big takeaway from all of this is that consistency is key. I've consistently eaten in a small calorie deficit, probably only 200-300 calories per day, as I don't like to feel hungry. I've consistently exercised, although I definitely don't go to the gym 5 or 6 times a week, more like 2 or 3. I've consistently used weights, i.e. dumbells and kettlebells, either at home or at the gym and in recent months I've done a 30 min run 2 or 3 times per week. This latter change has been effective in some ways in increasing my cardiovascular fitness, but it has also created new problems of making me feel hungrier and seemingly slowing down my weight loss. It's something I need to figure out in order to move beyond the plateau I'm currently on.

What I have done, is changed the way I exercise. Gone are the high intensity, highly choreographed dance fitness classes and in have come basic simple aerobic moves and the incorporation of dumbell weights and other weight machines in the gym, plus lots of walking on incline on the treadmill.

There's much more progress that I'd like to make. I'd like to reduce my weight a little more, maybe 7 - 10 lbs and I'd like to develop a bit more muscle definition. I'd like to learn to use a barbell with weights and some of the larger weight machines in the gym, but for the moment, I find them a bit intimidating. I'd also like to improve my diet and incorporate more protein with each meal, but I'm finding this quite a stumbling block at the moment.

If there's one point I want to get across in this post, it's that if you are not happy with your weight/body composition/fitness levels, it is never too late to do something about it and it doesn't have to be a slog. Just get started, no matter how small and keep going.  Things won't necessarily change immediately, but over time they will change and you'll wonder why you didn't do it earlier.

There are so many fitness influencers out there now on Instagram that can help you in your journey. I'd suggest picking 2 or 3 that you can realistically relate to and listen to what they've got to say. Be discerning as there's probably a lot of not so good advice out there too.

If you are looking to start a fitness journey, here's a few instagrammers (there are lots more) that I follow that might be of help:

henleyfitness - No nonsence fitness advice, focussing on technique and simplifying using gym machinery

emmabonoli - Great kettlebell routines and technique

petragenco - Great low impact routines for pre and post menopause weight loss

trainwithjoan - A shining light for women over 50 wanting to change their body composition.

cassiatierney - A fitness coach who has a fantastic podcast called 9lives focussing on fitness and overcoming bad habits.

bethanydobson - Great low calorie recipes and no nonsense advice to those on a fitness journey.

As I enter year 2 of my journey, I'm hoping that I can continue to make progress, albeit slower.  Thank you for all your support over the past year. It's really been appreciated.

Sunday 9 June 2024

A Busy and More Productive Week - W/E 8th June 2024

This week started with a trip to the allotment on Sunday morning. OH wanted to go and plant out most of the vegetable plants, so I went with him, as I know he misses the dog when he goes there, as he used to take her there a lot. 

Whilst he was planting out, I decided to do some weeding, as there were a couple of areas where the weeds were building up. Before I knew it, an hour and a half had passed and I needed to leave OH to it, as I was due at work for 12 noon. I took a couple of photos before heading off:

This side of the plot has potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, one courgette plant and raspberries.

On this side there are a few fruit bushes: blueberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries. OH was planting this side up with kohl rabi, lettuce and climbing beans, but there were beetroot, peas, cucumbers and asparagus already in. The plant in the pot is one of my dahlias that got planted out now it's a bit bigger. 

The plot is now fully cultivated until the potatoes are harvested and then some sweetcorn and more dahlias can go in.

Anyway, I had an early lunch, did some laundry and then got ready for work. It was a super hot day, which was welcome after all the rain we've had lately. Work was super busy again. I didn't have time to think about anything. I started off on one job and then half way through the shift, I was put on another job, which was my favourite job, so I was happy enough. When I got home, I made turkey tacos for OH and I for supper. We'd not had them in a long time, so it made a nice change and contained plenty of protein.

Once OH had returned from the allotment, he got started on building the new shed. He couldn't get very far with it as he needed to order some preservative, but he got the base in situ, which is super exciting. He thought it would go up quite quickly once he got the preservative, as he said it seemed pretty easy to assemble. I personally wouldn't know where to start, so kudos to him for being able to assemble it.

I had a day off on Monday and I didn't really need to do a weekly shop, as I'd done a shop late in the previous week, so I went out for a run in the morning. It was a very slow run, but I decided to do a full 5K, as I'd not done this distance since the event. I ran part of the course for the weekly Saturday morning Park Run. I may join it one week, when my free gym sessions have finished for the summer. It wasn't the most comfortable run today. I think I was tired from two consequetive shifts at work and I was wearing clothing that was really annoying me. It's sometimes the small things that can make the run harder.

When I got home, I decided to catch up on reading blog posts. I've been away from blogland for a while. It was nice to catch up with everyone. After lunch, I caught up on journaling too, as I'd got behind with that due to all the events occurring in the past week. I always feel better when I'm up to date with my journaling. I find it very therapeutic.

LB had an online interview for a summer job in retail on Monday afternoon. She's following it up with a visit to the shop in question next week. It will be an ideal match for her if she gets it and it is quite local, which is another plus.

On Tuesday, I went to my usual class at the gym. When I got home, I had some lunch and then picked up my Hexi Star Quilt for the first time in weeks. I began to sew the diamond and hexi star blocks together, which was very exciting. I went to bed for a bit of a nap in the afternoon, as I hadn't slept well the night before. I made sure to set my alarm clock, so I didn't oversleep, as I was due at work at 5pm. We were able to leave work a bit early tonight, which was a bonus.

On Wednesday, I was looking forward to having a day off. I did a slightly shorter run in the morning of 3km, as I tend to get too hungry when I do a longer run. When I got back, I got changed and headed out of town to do the weekly shop.

I hadn't even got to my destination when I heard a message come through on my phone. It was my manager asking if I could go into work. I agreed to go in and then continued on with my weekly shop. I went to Home Bargains this week, as I needed a few toiletries and ended up spending £36. I don't know how that happens, but it always does. I should be very well stocked up on many things for a few weeks now.

Work was quite busy when I did go in, which meant that at least it passed quite quickly.

Thursday was a rest day for me. I decided that I wasn't going to do any exercise. I can't honestly say I rested, as I spent the day cleaning the main bedroom. It had got very dusty and I couldn't cope with seeing the dust bunnies multiplying. Another reason for doing this, was that I needed to change the duvet over to a summer weight, so this was also done. It took most of the morning to get the room clean and I got a bit upset at one point, as the vacuum cleaner smelt of our dog, which made me miss her. Not to mention I was vacuuming up lots of dog hair and it felt like I was hoovering all evidence of her existence away.

After stopping for lunch, I later went back to sort out a big pile of clothes languishing on the ottoman at the end of the bed and a big trug of clean laundry. The pile was mostly stuff I needed to put in out of season storage, so I finally put it away out of sight. I then went through my piles of decluttered items, many from previous attempts at decluttering my wardrobe, and bagged the items up ready to take to the charity shop or zero waste event.

I have now started to think about packing for our forthcoming holiday. As I wash things that I want to take away with me, I am putting them aside in the wardrobe ready to pack when the time comes. After doing this, it was time to get ready for work. 

OH took the afternoon off work on Thursday and decided to continue building the garden room, which was very exciting. He couldn't complete the build, as he needed to wait for a delivery of preservative to paint onto to the wood. He could only build it up so far to still be able to apply the preservative, as there wasn't much room between the shed and the fences at the sides and end of the gardens. I went off to work just as the preservative arrived. By the time I got home after another very busy night at work, it was too dark to see the progress he'd made, so I had to wait until the next day to take a look.

I had a day off on Friday, which was much needed. I went for a run first thing and orchestrated the end of the run to be close to the pharmacy, so I could pick up a prescription before walking home. It would have created more steps to go out after my run, but it would have taken more time, so this way suited me better. On the walk home, I stopped off at a local independent shop and treated myself to a rubber plant, which I'm going to put in the shed when it's built. I also bought a very pretty pink pelargonium for the garden.  Not sure where I'm going to put it yet, but I'll find a spot for it.

When I got in, OH was working on the shed again. Hewas doing more preserving of the wood. It is the one thing that is taking the longest time, but will be worth it when it's done. I went around the house and watered my plants, watered some plants outside and potted on some cuttings that I'd rooted. I also did some laundry before stopping for lunch.

After lunch, we both headed to the allotment to water and feed the plants with the comfrey leaves I'd steeped a few weeks ago and then harvest a few strawberries. OH resumed work on the shed later. It's coming together nicely. It was a nice productive day pottering around at home and at the allotment and lovely not to have to go into work.

Saturday started with a free session at the gym which was good. In all honesty, I didn't do that much for the rest of the day, save a bit of pottering here and there and then I went to work a little early, as I needed to buy a few things from the store where I work, mainly a gift for a friend's daughter who has just had her first baby. Work was good tonight, as I got to work on a completely different section, which I really enjoyed.

Anyway, despite it still being strange and our still missing the dog a lot, we had a much more productive week this week, which was a good thing.

Monday 3 June 2024

A Strange Week - W/E 1st June 2024

This week has been a strange one for us. Following on from my last post about losing our lovely dog, we've been numb and upset in equal measure. Neither OH nor myself knew what to do with ourselves at first, but we've just been trying to carry on as best we can.

We felt a little better once she was safely buried, although it wasn't an easy thing to do. The house is quiet without her and we keep seeing things around the house that remind us of her. OH had to let our dog sitter know, as he was supposed to be looking after her when we go on holiday next month. He was sad to hear the news. The only positive in this whole situation is that we'll never have to leave her again.

On Wednesday, after returning home to London, I went out for a run. I bumped into a fellow dog walker, which upset me. I then headed to Soca Aerobics to keep myself busy. I'd not been for a good few months. I enjoyed the class though. It was nice to go back. In the evening, we watched the final episode of Race Across the World. We were happy for the eventual winners. Such a great series. Gives us that wanderlust.

On Thursday, I headed out to do a weekly shop. We were low on most fresh things, although there was still plenty of food in the house. Talking of food, I didn't put on any weight over the weekend at the wedding. I didn't drink a whole lot and was a careful what I ate, although not too careful. I like alcohol, but I don't like the after effects as I get older. 

Later on Thursday, I did some end of month financials, to get back on track with my finances after being away.

Friday, was a bit of a meh day. It was grey and rainy and I didn't feel motivated to do much. It was also my last day of annual leave before heading back to work. I went for a run in the morning and then later I decided to walk into our local town centre to do an errand. I got plenty of steps in at least and it was Payday too, which was a positive.

On Saturday, I returned to the free gym session for over 50's. I'd not been to the gym for a few weeks, nor to this session, so I was happy to go back and have a good workout. I need to focus more on doing some strength work, as I'd put it on the backburner whilst I was training for the 5K race. OH was cycling most of the day and I was due into work in the evening.  I felt a bit more motivated today and did a deep clean of the bathroom, which felt good.

Work was super busy in the evening, which meant that it passed very quickly. I am on the rota to work quite a lot of shifts next week, so the sooner I get back used to working the better.

It's been a subdued week this week. I have just focused on getting caught up with sleep and getting back into a routine after the events of the weekend. Hiring the camper van was great, as it meant we had our own space, but it doesn't always provide the best night's sleep, especially in the circumstances we faced. Just taking it one day at a time at the moment.

I hope you had a good week.