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By Megan Smiley, May 3 2018 04:05PM

With Spring here, it being National Gardening Week and the house refurbishment being pretty much finished (apart from a million little niggling jobs that may not get done for a good while yet, if ever!), I turned my attention to our garden. It is a lovely garden and a great space but has been neglected for nearly 10 years so in need of some major TLC.


My previous gardening experience is somewhat limited, comprising of a metre squared yellow box I used to grow a handful of vegetables from in west London. So with a 30 metre long garden as well as a front garden, with very little knowledge and measly amount of experience, I set upon them! Luckily I have a helpful gardening consultant on hand...my lovely Mum!


So far I’ve ripped out lots of ivy, brambles and dead stuff, cut back various shrubs and bushes, and planted my first lot of vegetables. But as with the house, things seem to have got worse before they will, hopefully, get better. Instead of an overgrown garden, we now have a slightly less overgrown garden with lots of piles of garden waste in it.


So I am yet to see the fruits (or veg) of my labour in terms of the appearance of the garden, however what I have achieved is something less tangible but possibly more important, and what I often think of as benefits of exercise, in particular exercising outdoors.


I’m talking about the mental and physical benefits of gardening. It is that perfect level of having to think about what you’re doing so that your mind doesn’t wander too much but not too challenging that it becomes taxing. Therefore it’s very relaxing and has a meditative quality to it. Then there are the physical benefits. I tell you I think I’m pretty strong and fit but gardening is quite a workout. It requires strength, balance, co-ordination, explosive power, you name it and there will be a job in the garden that will cover it!


I also think nurturing living things to grow and develop is very therapeutic and rewarding, giving you a sense of accomplishment and a connection to nature. Then there’s the benefit of being outdoors getting fresh air and if you’re lucky enough some sunshine, soaking up that important vitamin D the sun dishes out. So all in all I am sold on this gardening stuff, which is a good thing as I’ve got plenty to do!


By Megan Smiley, Sep 10 2015 08:48AM

As the days get shorter and the weather starts to feel more wintery, I always feel a pang of sadness to be saying goodbye to summer (not that it felt much like summer over the past six weeks!).


There are many reasons for this: I am a sun worshipper; I could spend hours lying in the sun soaking up the rays, and I feel the cold. So the fact I work outside in parks all day means I really notice the change. Plus on a more practical side the shorter days mean there are fewer hours in the day I can train people. And getting up when it's still pitch black, makes those 5.30am mornings that bit harder!


However, once I’m over that initial sorrow, I start to get excited about what the coming seasons have to offer. This might sound like a complete contradiction to what I just said above, but autumn is actually my favourite season. There is less of an expectation for good weather therefore less room for disappointment, and the colours are magical. Trees become things of real beauty, layers of leaves become glossy carpets and on those clear days with the sun sitting low in the sky, long slender shadows make everything look stunning.


Also, in summer the parks are full of picnickers and 'fair weather' park goers, but as the days get colder the parks get emptier, with only your hardcore people made up of fellow exercisers, dog walkers and a few random others. This creates a more peaceful (and fulfilling – I'm out in the cold when most others are sitting indoors) environment to be in.


Finally, with autumn follows winter, and those who know me, know how much I love all the festivities around Christmas, and then a cheeky ski trip in the New Year makes a very positive start to the year!


Basically, I love seasons and the change in nature, activities and people's behaviour you see throughout the year, and I would hate to live somewhere where it gets dark at the same time all year round and where you don't need a winter coat. So if you do hear me moaning about being cold, tell me to be quiet as you now know I secretly like it!