To celebrate the glorious weather, I decided to colour my hair. Yeah. That's how I roll, me. I am fortunate to have a nice natural hair colour to begin with - dark brown with a fair bit of red in it - and I didn't want to change it very much. What I DID want to do was disguise the increasing number of pure silver threads which are starting to appear. Not just in ones and twos any more, either. No, these bastards are multiplying, and having very dark hair, they are incredibly noticeable.
Well, I think they are.
Mr WithaY gets a bit tetchy when I whine and bitch about all the grey in my hair. He makes harrumphing "retired brigadier" noises at me, grumbling that "I can't see any" and "it looks fine." Men. He looks distinguished with a bit of grey in his hair. I look like a witch. Cuh.
I went to visit my lovely mum last week, and decided to pop into town* before we went home in the afternoon. Well, there's a Lush there. Mr WithaY refuses point blank ever to go into a Lush shop "because of the awful smell." I said they'd soon get used to it, but no, he stayed outside.
I stocked up on their lovely shampoo bars - these ones, if you're interested - and also bought a block of their finest, brownest, henna.
The next day, having Googled the instructions, as there were none provided with the product, I prepared to get a-colouring. I have used henna before, and am well aware how revolting and messy it can be, so I decided to do it in the garden as much as possible.
The first thing you have to do is melt the henna block in hot water. It looks like a giant bar of chocolate, and you break off as many chunks as you think you'll need. I decided to go for two blocks, as my hair is pretty thick and fairly long, but I wasn't looking to change the colour very much. I have no idea if those are the correct criteria for henna-block allocation.
So. Into a GLASS bowl went the two chunks - it stinks, by the way - and then boiling water. I stirred it for ages with an old wooden spoon, adding more water intermittently. Several of the instructions I'd found online suggested that a bain marie was a good idea to keep it all warm while it melted, so I put the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stirred for bloody ages.
After about 20 minutes of simmering and stirring, it was ready. I carried the pan and bowl out into the garden, where I had already stashed an old towel that I wasn't worried about staining, a box of clingfilm, some hair clips and several old tea towels. It looked like someone was about to have a baby pioneer-style, and then smear it with hot green poo. Outdoors.
There was an uncomfortable hiatus where I thought "How the bloody hell am I actually going to do this?" I briefly considered ringing a friend** to come and help, but decided to crack on on my own, and see how it went.
After considering several options, I went for the "grab a handful and slap it onto your hair" approach. Then another handful. Then another.
And so the long afternoon wore on.
I spent 20 minutes working it into my hair, whilst trying not to fling it all over myself, and I was running very low on both patience and henna mixture by the time my hair was covered. I kept adding more hot water to the henna left in the bowl to eke it out, and sort of squidged it through my hair, hoping it would reach all the bits I'd missed.
Once you've created a stylish set of mud dreadlocks, you have to wrap your head in clingfilm. TOP TIP: Don't do this outside. Especially if it's a bit breezy. I must have spent at least 10 minutes persistently untangling a long strip of clingfilm, trying to wrap it around my goopy mud-filled hair, only to have a gust blow it all into a spiral of uselessness, when I would have to start untangling again.
I gave up and went indoors to wrap up in the end.
This was the result. CAUTION: You may be struck with nausea and/or desire, depending on your tastes.
Note the attractive beetroot shade of my face after hours of standing over a hot stove, bending over in the blazing hot garden, and fighting with recalcitrant clingfilm. Sexy, no? You'll be relieved to know that I wiped off all the henna from my face before it stained me patchily brown.
Anyway. I wrapped the revolting mess in an old towel, then left it to mature.
Three hours later, with a stiff neck and a banging headache, I started washing it out of my hair. Readers, this took bloody ages. AGES. The instructions suggested using a lot of conditioner to help get all the twigs and gravel out, so I did just that. Two big handfuls of conditioner later, the water was starting to be less brown and muddy, so I bravely moved to shampoo. Ugh.
Several shampooings later, yet more conditioner, and finally the water was running clean, so I could assume I was about done. I dried it, and eagerly looked at it in the mirror.
It looked almost exactly the same.
Gah. Five hours well spent there, then.
Still, the silver hairs are now sort of pale brown/gold, which I prefer, and it is VERY shiny.
Also, please admire my domestic goddess pinny.
In other news: We have arranged to have our garage converted into a storage room (for me) and a workshop (for Mr WithaY) for our respective business plans. Mine will contain a fridge, a freezer, some cupboards and a lot of jam jars. His will contain a lathe, some antlers and a giant heap of woodshavings, as far as I can make out.
I'm quite excited about it, as it will allow me to get Plan B underway, since our farm shop idea bit the dust.
In other, other news, we went to a barbecue with some neighbours on Saturday night. I decided to take my little travel guitar along, as it was that sort of a day. Well, every day is that sort of a day, to be honest, but you know, sunshine, barbecue, wine, yadda yadda yadda. On the way there, walking through the village we ran into a friend***, so we stopped for a chat.
"Are you off to the barbecue?" she asked us.
We said yes, we were.
"Oh, is that your guitar?" she asked me.
"Yes," I said proudly. I'm still absurdly proud of my travel guitar.
"Did they ASK you to bring it?"
Her peals of laughter followed us along the road for quite some time.
**Jo, it would have been you. Sorry.