Once upon a time...

Updated: Feb 17

Last day of term:

SCHOOL’S OUT BITCHES. Finally, it is the last day of term and f*** me sideways has it been a dark and dreary slog since Christmas. You know, those wonderful post-Christmas blues. I love my job, more than anything, but we all need that well deserved break. I have thrown myself into my NQT year head-first. It has been a rollercoaster of late nights, tears, laughter and more time spent lesson planning than there are hours in the day.

Going to work in jeans is always a weird and wonderful feeling and I succumbed to lessons filled with ‘knowledge consolidation’ (wink wink) and felt the motivation slowly drain out of me as the day went on.

To top it all off, my boyfriend was working until 10pm; meaning valentine’s day was a write off. As much of a capitalist, stupid day as it is, I’m a hopeless romantic – sue me. Store bought £20 valentine’s day meal deal in the bag and I was ready to spend the night moping in front of the TV, but as I got home guess whose car was parked on the drive? He can pull it out of the bag when he wants to. The meal was disappointing BUT the brownies I whipped up were a messy, sunken success. Hooray. A few glasses of fizz and some crappy TV made for the perfect evening.

February 15th, on the other hand, well and truly sucked! I slept in late, messed up a cake, and let a jar of oregano piss me off to the point where you’d have thought that someone had totalled my car. I’d have normally laughed a day like today off, but it’s been one of those days, at the wrong time, under the wrong mood, and I let it get to me. But, that’s okay! Tomorrow is a new day!

I will, even if it kills me, make the most of this half-term by throwing myself into this blog – my passion project. The rest of this blog will catch you all up on my journey up to now, not from the VERY beginning, because that would just be stupid BUT from, let’s say, Christmas and the beginning of my new life.

(Imagine a fancy ass flashback transition here)

Moving into our new home:

On December 20th, 2019, my boyfriend and I picked up the keys to our first home! I could not contain my excitement, and thinking about it, hadn’t been able to for the months leading up to this moment. - the beginning of my new life.

Naively, I don’t think that I quite realised just how much work we had ahead of us, and it has been a slog to say the least. It has tested our relationship, lead to stupid bouts of bickering but also to laughter. So, so, so much laughter. Get yourself a man who makes you laugh, as cliché as that may be. With so much ‘real’ life stuff to deal with, be childish when you can. Turn all the lights off and have nerf gun fights, wrestle each other and pull funny faces. Don’t be so serious all of the time.

Moving in so close to Christmas was daunting, but thankfully we were both off work for the holidays. On December 23rd, we hired a van, Richard drove as my own driving is, let’s say, questionable. We had an action plan: drive ALL the way to Poulton-le-Fylde to pack my room up – who knew you could own so many clothes? And then, to Richard’s to sort his room. Man was it a tough day BUT come 11:30pm that evening we were in! a sea of boxes threatened to drown us BUT it was officially our first night in our first home together.

I would like to say that I’m a DIY goddess however, that would be a lie. I am however incredibly good at ‘overseeing’ said DIY, from the armchair, with wine. Upon attempting to ‘help’ by drilling one, yes one, screw into the TV unit, I managed to make that wonky – a talent in itself I hope you’ll agree. I even turned my hand to painting, which I didn’t 100% suck at – woohoo. Luckily for me, Richard can turn his hand to anything, whilst also putting up with me. Someone give this man a medal.

Bunny Balboa:

December 29th was a day filled with house shopping (you can never have too many cushions, right?) and an obligatory trip into pets at home for a ‘look around’. I was specifically told that we were NOT getting a pet, a fish maximum, but not a pet. We wandered around, perusing the tropical fish in their little tanks, bobbing away, completely complacent with life in a bowl but none stole my heart.

That was when we saw a sign for the pets that were up for adoption, animals that had been returned, animals that needed extra care and unfortunately the families that first took them were unable to provide that.

Everyone, meet Bunny Balboa:

That was the first time we saw this little man, the missing piece to our puzzle. We couldn’t not take him home immediately – just look at him! His adoption form stated that he needed ‘extra care’, due to a serious case of ‘small angry man’ syndrome. He is a Netherland Dwarf, and had to be separated from his brother, who was in fact three times his size, after getting into a nasty fight with him.

After talking with one of the lovely sales assistants we had singed the adoption papers and were taking him home! He settled in incredibly fast, hopping around like he owned the place after only a couple of hours (which to be fair, he now does). Also, who knew that rabbits had such unique personalities? I would 100% recommend a rabbit as a pet to those that lack the time commitments a dog needs (as we do).

At my parents’ house, I have the most beautiful blue point Ragdoll named Roman, but due to the site still being under development he’s living at my mums so as not to be cemented into a floor. So much for ‘house-cats’ he’s most definitely a wanderer!

Making the decision to go vegan:

Nearly two months later and we’re nearly done, minus the sofa, which by the way we ordered on November 24th, is really starting to grind my gears now. I JUST WANT COMFORT. Not only did we start our ‘first home’ journey just before Christmas, we also decided to make the jump to go vegan – because it’s not like we had enough to do, right? I have to be honest though (as that’s the main reason for this blog at the end of the day) It has been a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.

We transitioned to a vegan lifestyle, rather than going all in, all at once. Our fridge and cupboards still held many non-vegan products so rather than being wasteful we used what was left but did not buy anything new that was not vegan. (Or vegetarian) I found out, the hard way, that a lot of Quorn products contained egg. This for the main part was not a problem, as the supermarkets are full to the brim with new and exciting vegan alternatives, as well as Quorn offering an expanding vegan range themselves. I am however distraught that the Quorn cocktail sausages are not vegan. PLEASE MAKE A VEGAN ALTERNATIVE. I am not a sweet/chocolate loving person, and much prefer savoury snacks, so this is my plea to the vegan food market.

Anyway, we cut out dairy products first, then meat, and now I am happy to say that we’re 100% vegan. I recommend Alpro's oat milk, it is incredibly creamy and makes the best coffee. I will also be doing an upcoming blog reviewing a variety of the vegan cheese alternatives that are available due to this being my personal biggest fear when going vegan. I loved cheese (as I have previously mentioned) and will most probably mention again.

In terms of my overall health since going vegan I have noticed a major difference in how I feel within myself, and the amount of energy I have on a day to day basis. To top this off my nails are in the best condition they have ever been, in my entire life. No, I am not over exaggerating. Mine always flaked and broke, and caused me oodles of annoyance but since going vegan they are strong, do not peel at the ends and I am over the moon. Do some research, you’ll see online a lot of health benefits to going vegan, including healthier skin and nails.

Now for the bloating, or should I say lack of. Since going vegan I have not felt bloated, not once – even after a dirty, big beyond meat burger and fries – heaven! I understand that bloating usually comes from high fibre content, which is mainly the key bulk foods on a plant-based diet (beans, cruciferous veggies etc) but I genuinely haven’t felt bloated at all… Maybe I was lactose-intolerant and didn’t know it?

I have also dropped around 5 pounds since going plant based without actively dieting, just making healthier food choices overall. Going forward, I plan on focussing more on exercise, and improving my overall fitness and strength.

This half-term I am going to be getting back into my running, yoga and then progress to the gym. I am completing Tough Mudder in September, so I have some serious work to do! Stay tuned for updates on that part of my life.

Work, life balance:

Going back to work after the Christmas break was tougher than I thought. I got nervous, anxious and started worrying that I had forgotten to teach after the blissfully stressful two weeks off. I am, in all senses of the word, a worry wart.

Top that off with my new vegan diet, I knew that I had to start preparing lunches for school rather than relying on the heavily meat and dairy-based choices that were available from the school cafeteria. I have started to make larger portions of the evening’s dinner, and boxing that up for the next day which has helped. But I’m sometimes useless and will make my partners and forget to do my own. This I need to work on, and think I need to start meal prepping properly – any tips on this would be greatly appreciated!

With this being said, going vegan has not created more work for me. It has also never felt like a hinderance. I have noticed, especially at work, that my mind feels clearer, and more focussed. Jumping from one topic to another throughout the day (From Macbeth to poetry to A Christmas Carol, and back again) can be tiresome and cause major brain ache, but I have noticed this lessening and come 3:10pm I am not as mentally exhausted as I was on a non-vegan diet.

With the new house, the new lifestyle, the relatively new career path, I am still learning to juggle everything. Make time for myself, my partner, my family but I’m getting there. I think at this point the most important thing is to remember that we cannot control everything little detail in our lives – some things are just beyond it. Oh, did I mention - my name is Heather, and I am a control freak. There I said it. Phew, that’s the first step to recovery, right?

Much love,

Heather xoxo


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