Getting my social on…

This week has been all about spreading the word and getting some good ol’ social media coverage for my challenge. Plus I’ve discovered a perfectly acceptable de-alcoholised wine and slept better than I have in years – result!

First to social. The wonderfully supportive team at PAPYRUS featured me on Instagram as part of #CharityTuesday last week – thanks guys! It’s really good to share our story and connect with other people in a similar situation. We also received some fab running vests and t-shirts from the lovely Toni at PAPYRUS so look out for a couple of purple-clad runners* as David and I take to the streets of Hertfordshire in a bid to become fitter and also raise money by taking on some 5k and 10k runs later in the year.

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Tottenham fans may have read about my challenge if they follow former Spurs player and England International Darren Anderton on Twitter, as he’s retweeted my JustGiving page to his 30,000 followers. Darren and I go way back and he’s given me even more motivation to succeed by suggesting I’ll never make it through a year without a drink. The cheek! To be fair, it’s not often he’s seen me without a drink in my hand so I understand him being dubious, although I reckon he might be pulling some weird reverse sports psychology crap and only telling me I won’t do it because he wants me to prove him wrong. Either way, I WILL prove him wrong!

Thanks to yet more very generous donations the fundraising total stands at £1340, and with my company – Anglo American – pledging an additional £1000, that means a combined total of £2340! The money will help PAPYRUS support young people at risk of suicide as well as their families, schools and communities. You can find out more about how PAPYRUS spends their money here. There really is no worse pain than finding out your child/stepchild didn’t feel they could carry on with life and ANYTHING we can do to prevent young suicide happening at the alarming rate it is in the UK, is crucial.

A bit of a short post this week as I’m full of cold and just want my bed, but I will say that I’m thrilled to have managed another week alcohol-free. And while I may have the odd 0% lager or glass of de-alcoholised wine (Torres Natureo Muscat, you’re welcome), I genuinely don’t miss alcohol. In fact, I feel calmer, more in control and less anxious than I have in a very long time. Lord knows how I’ll feel next week though! One day at a time…

*David runs, I flail.

 

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Sparkling grape juice and I are not going to get on…

Wow! Eight days into my challenge and I’ve already raised £1270 for PAPYRUS thanks to lovely friends, colleagues and strangers who’ve donated so generously. Add £1000 from my company, Anglo American, and we’re smashing it! Brilliant progress and I hope it continues as I plough on through my year of sobriety.

A big shout out to the fantastic team and fellow challengers at One Year No Beer (OYNB) who have blown me away with their support, insights and honesty over the past week. I know this challenge is going to be hard – otherwise it isn’t a challenge, right?! – but I know it would be infinitely harder without OYNB. So thank you. And if anyone else is thinking of taking a break from alcohol, I can recommend signing up with them; I’m not sure I’d be at Day 8 with such a smile on my face without their support.

So, what have the past 8 days been like? Well, oddly ok actually. I’m worried that the lingering effects of laryngitis have helped me not really want a drink and that now I’m feeling better, the old wine witch will reappear with a vengeance but so far, so good. That said I have been testing some alcohol free (AF) alternatives, all in the name of research you understand…

img_7964.jpgWe had dinner on Saturday at one of my favourite local restaurants, Lussmann’s in Harpenden. I would usually spend £31 on a bottle of their delicious New Zealand Sauvignon, but instead opted for a Bitburger 0% at a fraction of the price and  was pleasantly surprised.

I’m not much of a lager drinker but genuinely couldn’t tell the difference between this and the real thing. Happy days!

It felt strange not having wine with dinner – I can’t remember the last time I didn’t – but it was a lovely meal with great company so not having wine didn’t really bother me. One meal down, many more to go…

On Sunday we had a trip to Ronnie Scott’s to meet my brother and his girlfriend for a spot of lunchtime jazz. Again – and there’s a pattern emerging here – I would usually have a bottle of Ronnie’s finest NZ Sauvignon but had already looked at the drinks menu online so knew what I was going to order instead (a fab tip from OYNB – be prepared!) and enjoyed two Nojitos (mint, lime and cloudy apple juice) instead. Perfectly delicious, perfectly refreshing and £10 the pair!

Which brings me on to sparkling grape juice. As it’s my birthday today and I would usually have a glass of fizz (or several), I was drawn to the AF display in M&S which had a sparkling grape juice in a bottle with a cage and a cork so it looked like proper fizz. I caved. I bought some. I cracked it open to have with a piece of cake and realised that I just have to accept that I DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL ANYMORE AND THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE TO CHAMPAGNE. It looked like apple juice for god’s sake.

So, I’m back on the tea and wondering whether it’s ok to hibernate until next January…

Goodbye 2017

Hello. I’ve set up this blog to chart my journey through a sober 2018.

I’m sitting here, on New Year’s Eve, contemplating the hell that has been 2017 and looking forward to seeing the back of it at midnight. But then tomorrow is just another day. My lovely stepson Joe will still be gone and the pain won’t have eased, there’ll just be a different number at the end of the year.

But I want something to change which is why, as of midnight (if I make it that far with the crappy laryngitis I’ve got), I will be stopping drinking for the rest of 2018. I don’t want to slip into the new year doing the same things I’ve always done, so I’m determined to make a big change, raising money along the way for an important charity.

There has been a lot of self-reflection in the six months since Joe died. The shock of losing him has been life-changing and to not try to make myself a better person – and live my life in a better way – feels disrespectful to him and his memory.

I’m very lucky to have the support of amazing family and friends. My partner David is going to do Dry January to support me during the first few weeks and my parents always do it, so I’m sure they’ll impart their wisdom.

The first hurdle will be my birthday on 8th Jan and a trip to Ronnie Scott’s in London on the 7th. Luckily we’re going with my brother who doesn’t drink – and I also happen to know they have a fabulous mocktail menu – so we should be all good!

I’ll aim to share an update every week and hope you’ll share your thoughts and comments with me – I know I’ll need them to keep me going.

A huge thank you to everyone who has already donated – your belief in me is scary but much appreciated.

Happy New Year.