Since moving, I have been fascinated by the sheer number of photos taken on the streets immediately surrounding us. Being an ex-teacher from picturesque Pembrokeshire, I’m used to snap-happy tourists and selfie-obsessed teens. But almost every day there is someone taking photos in these parts. Sometimes of the colourful streets, sometimes of the market and crowds; being a fan of the film ‘Notting Hill’ I totally understand the snaps of the bookshop round the corner. What strikes me, though, is the number of posers and the sheer effort taken by them – the make-up, the clothes, the concentration – just to create an Instragram post claiming no effort was made at all.
This week, however, we had a modelling shoot just outside, close enough that Betty and I could watch through the window. Last time I am aware that there was a ‘shoot’ just outside the house was many years ago when Dad attempted to shoot some pigeons that were eating the cattle’s feed with a BB gun and the cat as his sidekick. Being the softest farmer on the planet, he failed miserably and the whole scene was no more macabre an no less ridiculous than the tale of Dick Wittington and his cat. So I was fascinated when a particularly beautiful Amazonian-looking creature strutted down the street in sequins looking more ‘extra’ than the Strictly Come Dancing wardrobe.
I won’t lie, all this posing made me take a good look in the mirror, and as a result, I’m concerned that I’m getting podgy. I think it’s because I have swapped pushing large barrow-fulls of horse poop for just one or two small poo bags. The idea of consuming less food seems unthinkable – especially at this time of year, so I have joined a gym.
With the exception of attending a class once every six months, the last time I actually joined a gym was circa 2013 when I joined Haverfordwest Leisure Centre. I was naïve; the first near-death experience I had there wasn’t caused by the over-exertion of my muscles, but rather from the extreme flexing expected of my debit card. Just in case anyone out there is as naïve as I was, Notting Hill health clubs are not cheap. I wonder how gym gear and athleisure brands manage to stay afloat asking so much for multi-coloured lycra, because now that I have payed to get in, I certainly can’t afford new clothes to wear there, too.
Rhys reassured me that what I was paying was mid-range ‘for around here’. Whilst this eased the pain ever so slightly, I do still feel guilty every time I get a wave of ‘can’t-be-botheredness’ and promptly march myself down there, so what might be bad for my bank account might actually be good for my backside after all.
After my second visit, I treated myself to dinner out with Rhys and a friend. Just down the road and particularly tasty, Granger and co. is becoming a bit of a fave. Whoever makes the banana fritters on the desserts list should probably be given an MBE. So I would have gone anyway, but I did feel smug whilst glancing the menu knowing that I had already worked off at least the side-salad earlier in the afternoon. Still, I am slightly miffed that at that price, having been four times now, I still don’t look like Beyonce. Or probably even her mother.
Now, for all you horsey and country folk reading, this may come as a surprise – it certainly did to me. It transpires that it’s not the fresh air that makes country living so healthy after all. In actual fact, the answer is far less obvious. If, after shifting a trailer-load of small bales you have felt six pounds lighter and starving, it won’t have been the physical exercise, but rather your proximity to the immunity-rejuvenating and metabolism-boosting benefits of the hay itself. Yes, folks, the latest health craze to hit this city – or so I am informed – is hay. Let me repeat that just in case you thought it was a typo: hay. To really reap the benefits, pull the plug on Daisy’s milk and bathe in a bale instead. Better still if it’s hot and you wrap yourself in a sheet immediately afterwards. So next time you’re feeling a tad snivelly this winter, shirk the meds; just fill your waterproofs with hay and turn up the heating instead.