Tag Archives: Wine

Drinking rituals

When I think back on my drinking it wasn’t just about drinking habits it was also about drinking rituals.  Interestingly when I looked at the word ‘rituals’ on Wiki it said this:

In psychology, the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety; it is a symptom of obsessive–compulsive disorder.

How very interesting?!

And I think for me it was a bit like this as I was a bit obsessive about my drinking.  What do I mean by that?  Well I had certain wine glasses that I preferred to drink out of – you know a ‘favourite’ and would be eager to replace them if they got broken.  I would always have spare wine in the house so we NEVER ran out.  The wine rack was filled regularly, the fridge always had a bottle of fizz, white and rose chilling in it (for unexpected guests of course!) and I used to love those supermarket offers that incentivised  me to buy even more.  Interestingly us UK folks love of a drink bargain may also be confirmed by recent University of Cambridge research that found end of aisle displays significantly increased sales of displayed products: 46% for spirits, 34% for wine and 23% for beer.  So it wasn’t just me then?

If I was having the lie-in the next morning at the w/end I would almost always stay up beyond Mr HOF and sink another couple of glasses and smoke a couple more fags – like I needed them?  Same with the fags had to always make sure there were 2 left in the pack for the following day.  Not nuts much huh?

Was it just me with the drinking rituals or does this all sound familiar to you too? 🙂

We owned the night!

Nike we owned it result

Well I’m just back from London Town after staying overnight post run.  We owned it!!

What a fabulous evening!  My running buddy and I went for Nando’s pre-race to pack some protein and that was a bad idea.  It made us late and too much protein too close to the race gave me a stitch pretty much all the way round – a learn for the next time.

The event itself was really well organised and there were 10,000 runners.  I tried to hook up with FitFatFood and we had plenty of text conversations but didn’t manage to find each other.  Again next time 🙂

As for my run time – well I didn’t make the sub 1hr but seeing as my last 10K personal best was 1hr 10mins my run time was pretty good.  Progress not perfection right? 😉

So run time? 01:05:43

As promised here is a picture of me having just crossed the finish line 🙂

Lou R owned it

So now you know what I look like, I’d better formally introduce myself.  My real name is Lou, but Lucy is a family nick-name so I’m just as happy to answer to that 🙂

We went for dinner afterwards at a fantastic restaurant called Bistrotheque where I had tomatoes, mozzarella & black olives followed by passion fruit and fennel seed mess served with a fine non-alcoholic cocktail called an Elderflower Spritz served with fresh mint.  My running buddy had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Did I miss booze & was I jealous of my friend’s glass of wine?  Not at all.  Not only was booze not required it felt like it wouldn’t have added anything to the evening.

We walked back to the hotel and collapsed into bed at 12.30, slept well and awoke feeling sore but refreshed.  A resounding success and another first as hotel stays in the past were typified by banging hangovers the morning after and struggle – but not this time.

I really enjoyed the whole thing and if there are other sober bloggers/readers who run, or who would like to start running, then maybe next year we could get a posse of sober runners together and all do it together.  What do you think?  I’m up for it if you are 😉

So thank you for the well wishes and sponsorship so far.  If you would like to thank me for my blog or sponsor last night’s run then you can go to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/ahangoverfreelife and through supporting me support Alcohol Concern 🙂

My last drunks

In the last year of my drinking there were two events that put the final nail in the coffin of my drinking career.  I’m going to talk about them in two different posts because there are lessons to be learned from both for me and they both contributed in a different way.  The final one I’ll talk about tomorrow.

The first one was in November 2012 and was a nursing re-union.  It was a 20 year post training celebratory gathering of my old student nurse colleagues back in the city where I trained.  I was on one of my moderation/quitting attempts back then and hadn’t had a drink for 6 weeks running up to it.  It was an opportunity for me to have a week-end away from small children and catch up with other close nursing friends, not from my training colleagues, at the same time.

I had to drive 4 1/2 hours to get there and grabbed a late lunch at a service station on the way down, checked into my hotel and then headed straight out at 4pm to meet another nursing friend.  She is one of my oldest and closest friends and we shared a strong drinking history together and so we started as we had left off with white wine and fags.  The re-union was at 8pm and suffice it to say that by the time it was due to start I was already sh*tfaced.  I had had nothing to eat so was drinking on an empty stomach after 6 weeks off.  Recipe for disaster.

We arrived at the re-union but by now my memory was patchy.  I remember I was very drunk, didn’t recognise people I should have done because of it, was slurring my words and really struggling to stay upright.  Said friend looked out for me, and after me, and I think she realised from the sobbing drunken mess I had become what a bad state I was in and got me into a taxi and back to the hotel.

The next morning I came too, not knowing what had happened and how I had got back to the hotel.  I texted said friend who said that I was ‘tired and emotional’ and not to worry.  I texted one of the re-union members who was kind and focused on how at least I had made the effort to attend unlike some others who lived more locally.

But I was mortified.  I hadn’t seen these people for 10-20 years.  They didn’t know any of the context to my state – 6 weeks off the booze, difficult family stuff going on, meeting and drinking pre-event.  All they had was how I presented and what a shambling drunken wreck at 8pm I must have seemed.  My shame knew no bounds.

In a recent post, linked to my CBT, I have said that I wonder if I need to do more alcohol experimentation and whether I can moderate.  This memory tells me what a joke that thought really is.  Do I really need more evidence of how that isn’t possible for me?  OK I may have worked through some of my emotional history, baggage and how it impacts on my thinking but would it really be any different?  I think we all know the answer to that one don’t we ……..

PS This time next week I’ll have run the Nike 10K and am hoping to do it in sub 1hr.  If you would like to sponsor me for this event and raise some money for Alcohol Concern then you can do so here ( http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/ahangoverfreelife).  Donations can be made anonymously and thank you in advance 🙂

 

Wine habits

Wine is rarely out of the press these days here in the UKs so I read this infographic with interest.  To summarise; we have 35% saying they will drink more and 65% saying they will drink less (but sometimes better quality wines) and 54% spend under £6 a bottle.

Wine

And I did read this and smirk a bit:

But the bargain-hunting habits of Brits are putting a real strain on wine producers, who are making virtually no profit on wines sold for less than £6 a bottle.

One supplier, who did not want to be named, said: “The fact is, it’s hard to make any money in Britain, but it’s a great market if you want to get rid of bin ends or if you’ve got tanks to empty for the next harvest.

“You chuck it in the UK’s direction because there they’ll suck in cheap wine.”

I used to think I was such a wine connoisseur but let’s face it when you’re past the first bottle you could be drinking paint stripper and not know it.  Because by then it isn’t about the bouquet or the roundness of it, it’s about pouring more booze down your neck.  It’s not about the pleasure of the taste but the effect.

And at 215 days without Mr HOF & I have saved a whopping £2550 smackers 🙂  How much have you or could you save?

Easter hiatus

Apologies folks for the interruption in service over this week-end.  As I mentioned in a previous post I am doing some work to my blog which involved moving servers and so some functionality was lost for a few days.  Thank you to those of you who emailed me to let me know about the 404 error messages and those who sent text messages to make sure I hadn’t drowned in a vat of wine,  you know who you are  😉  It hadn’t gone dark because I was off drinking – more like tearing my hair out as my luddite technology skills were severely challenged!!

Anyway I am happy to say that the normal daily blog service is now resumed 🙂

And with some news too.  In a couple of weeks I am going to do a Skype interview with Veronica Valli from Recovery Rocks.  If anyone would like to submit a question for Veronica then please let me know on email in the next two weeks.  I am planning on posting the interview up on Monday 12th May.

Here is her bio:

Veronica has worked as a therapist and life coach specialising in addiction for over ten years; her experience includes working with young people in the criminal justice system, primary care adult treatment, outreach services and private practice. Veronica has also worked in local government, delivering local drug and alcohol strategies.

As a recovered alcoholic, she has personal experience of what it takes to recover. Veronica struggled with alcoholism through most of her twenties. Never a daily drinker but a binge drinker, she was aware for some time that something was wrong but was unable to define what it was; a chance meeting led to her finally getting help and turning her life around.

At the height of her drink problem, Veronica was unable to go to work without the aid of a drink; her life and confidence were in tatters. She got sober in 2000 at the age of twenty-seven. She now uses this experience to help and inspire others. She fully believes that all alcoholics and addicts can recover if they have access to the right kind of help, and that they can then go on to live life to the full.

She is committed to educating and informing the public on problem drinking and addiction and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire as a specialist guest. She has also appeared on the Lorraine Kelly show on ITV, and an ITV programme entitled The Truth About Binge Drinking; she has also appeared in national magazines and publications, discussing recovery from alcoholism.

Her book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom’ is available on Amazon.co.uk http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-you-drink-How-stop-ebook/dp/B00EGD8T3M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382014004&sr=8-1&keywords=veronica+valli

Veronica is married with a young son and is currently working in private practice.

http://veronicavalli.com

http://twitter.com/veronicavalli

https://www.facebook.com/addictionexpert

2013 How to Stop Cover 960x1280

If you have a question you would like to ask an addictions specialist then drop me an email.  Or maybe you’d like to ask a question of me as a nurse?  Whatever we’ll try to accommodate and are really looking forward to it!

Pregnant pause

Maybe it’s just me but since I stopped drinking I find myself reflecting on my past and what bought me to the here and now.  Everything happens for a reason right?

And whenever I reflect I wonder about times that my drinking wasn’t a problem – like when I was pregnant.  Now I’m not saying this as a joke because in the UK you can still have a drink during pregnancy whereas in many other countries they recommend not to.

pregnant1

So why is it, this wasn’t difficult for me?  Was it because during the first three months you feel sick and the thought of wine makes you want to vomit?  Did that 3 months almost count as a 100 day challenge and I just got used to it?  Why could I have my one glass of wine on a Saturday night and not want to inhale the whole bottle?  Was it because I knew that drinking more would be harmful to my on-board passenger?  I do remember in my first pregnancy being very vigilant but with my second was a little more laissez-faire and I found it more difficult to give up the booze but of course I did.

I guess if I’m honest part of me is still wrestling with the idea of ‘forever’ and looking for chinks of hope to draw from in the past.  Wolfie whispering ‘see you did it then and it wasn’t a problem.  You could go a whole week and only have one glass on a Saturday night and that was fine’.  I do remember being resentful that I could only have one, second pregnancy round.

I appreciate that this is a post of more questions than answers and maybe you want to chime in too?  What’s your recollections and thoughts?  I’d love to know 🙂

 

A river of tears

So last week-end I started on some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with an experienced senior practitioner.

Why?  Because I have this tiny little voice in my head that say’s ‘if I could get to the bottom of what my thinking around my drinking was and could fix it then all would be well and I could drink socially again’.  I know, I know – sounds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing right?

But this wolf/sheep is still struggling with how the rest of the flock get to drink and she doesn’t.  ‘Sheeple‘ is an oft used derogatory term for a person who follows the herd without thinking about their actions and this is part of my struggle too.  Am I wanting to drink again so that I fit in or is this just wolfie words to keep me struggling?  If the attitude towards drinking had changed as it has towards smoking, so that it was considered a more anti-social than social habit, would this decision be so hard?

These are all unanswered questions that I continue to struggle with.  I hate being a sheeple and feeling like one and usually rejoice in going against the flow so why is this issue different?  I struggle with the question of ‘am I an alcoholic?’ and that my inability to control my drinking isn’t a failing in me but a reflection of an addictive substance.  I know this isn’t new to any of you but that is what was going through my head when they asked me the question.

Then they asked me to scale/rate how hard this was for me to unpick and manage and that was a resounding 10.  This is some of the hardest shit I have ever done, and I’m doing it sober, and I am crying a river of tears.  It’s like a wine bottle cork was plugging the dam of tears that have been building up and been kept in check for as long as I can remember.   The no booze and tricky therapeutic conversations has finally forced the cork out of the hole and the full force of my tear ducts had been released.  As the lovely Mrs D would say ‘water keeps falling from my eyes’ and I feel unable, and unwilling, to control it like I did in the past.

I will share how the CBT goes and what I learn because I wonder if I am not alone in how I think and how it relates to my drinking and I find this therapeutic in itself.  I sense I know the answer to the question already but I’m just not yet ready to accept it and this is my way of delaying the inevitable.  But what a fantastic learning opportunity too and what doesn’t break us makes us stronger right?

More sober role-modelling on TV! (updated)

More sober role-modelling on TV! I’m a fan of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon and so was delighted when their series ‘The Trip to Italy’ started having watched ‘The Trip’ back in 2010.  Like Steve I was still caught in active addiction back then ….

steve cooganThis is the BBC’s synopsis of the first episode:

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan are asked by The Observer to do another series of restaurant reviews. The pair have six meals in six different places on a road trip around Italy.

They begin in Piemonte at the Trattoria Della Posta before stopping at Byron’s house in Genova on their way to the Cenobio dei Dogi in Camogli. Steve is on hiatus from his American series and isn’t drinking, while Rob is looking to unwind during his time away from his young family.

In the opening restaurant scene when the waitress goes to pour him wine, after serving Rob, Steve shares that he won’t be drinking on the trip as he gave up drinking 9 months ago!  I was really pleased by this change to the story line and Rob is suitably surprised by this disclosure.

It is very funny and if you’d like to watch it you can do so here.

The only downside is that it is Steve’s on-screen persona that has given up not him in real life as in an interview with the Huffington Post it is reported that:

Rob Brydon admits that he and Steve Coogan were “completely p***ed” for quite a bit of time on the idyllic set of the second series of The Trip

Edited to add: 17/04/2014 Bugger – just watching second episode in which he starts drinking alcohol again at lunchtime.  Oh well – it lasted one episode sigh

Edited to add: 07/10/2015 Steve Coogan interview here quoted saying:

Is life without alcohol as shit as it looks? (John Higgins)

No. I’ve got to the stage now where I’m comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to make small talk when I’m completely sober. What happens is, everyone’s fun until about 11 o clock, wherever you are, and when they start to get boring and repetitive because they’re getting progressively more drunk and that’s when you go. I go home early now. I don’t think, ‘This is really rubbish,’ I’m just thinking, ‘I want to go home. I like the idea of going home.’ If you’ve got a drink in your hand, even boring people can be somewhat interesting. As long as you find interesting people, you don’t need a drink.

Read further excerpts from his new autobiography, Easily Distracted here:

Steve Coogan: ‘It took me a long time to face up to my addiction’

Edited to add: 7th April 2017

The 3rd series has now been launched on Sky Atlantic, not the BBC sadly, but available to watch online as box set.

This was one of the reviews in The Guardian which discussed Steve’s once again sober status (yay!!)

Since last year, Coogan has been teetotal, and it’s hard not to wonder if this has detracted from the pleasure of making this season of The Trip – as Brydon has merrily sipped away at the finest albarinos and tempranillos, he has stuck resolutely to Diet Coke and water.

“Let me say he’s a much nicer person to be around because he’s not drinking,” Brydon says. “Well,” Coogan says, “I did drugs too, and the thing is between getting – how shall we put it? – ‘off one’s tits’, it’s how you are in the refrain from it. It’s about not liking yourself, and if you like yourself you like other people as well. And when I was drinking … I wouldn’t say I didn’t like myself completely …”

“No, you were quite fond of yourself,” Brydon interjects. “From where I was standing you were quite enamoured …” Coogan laughs. “I wouldn’t say enamoured,” he says. “I wouldn’t say I liked myself, I’d say I disapproved of other people more.” Brydon nods. “That’s very true. Very true.” “But now,” Coogan continues, “I am just … happier.” He says the word in a small way. Brydon glances at him. “I don’t like the upward inflection there,” he says sternly. “I’m just happier,” Coogan says again, this time more resoundingly. “Thank you,” Brydon says. “You’re better than that. We are not upward inflectors.”

And for those after a clip where his Diet Coke can be clearly seen.  Who says you need booze to enjoy good food and good company? 😉

Beautiful Tea

to both drink and look at 🙂

On Mothering Sunday my family did me proud and took me for lunch at a new Wagamama’s that had opened locally.  I had a lovely glass of sparkling elderflower cordial with my Pad Thai and afterwards had this tea that I was so impressed with I had to blog about it!

It’s called Blooming Jasmine Flower Tea and this is what it looked like:

Baihe_xianzi_1

The description I found on a supplier’s website said this:

A single handmade blooming tea flower ball in hygienic packaging. A mix of green tea leaves, Lily and Jasmine bound together into a ball which opens when hot water is added to create a fresh, smooth green tea.

It was not only delicious but exquisite to look at and felt like a treat in itself!  If you are in the UK and looking for supplies (which I was the minute I got home) then you can buy them here.

I shall be ordering some and who needs wine when you can drink this instead?  I can see myself becoming a real tea aficionado 😉

Edited to add 14/04/14: thanks to no more! on Soberistas who kindly pointed out to me that there are multiple varieties of these available on Amazon from a company called Exotic Teapot with lovely glass teapots too 🙂

New perspectives

Last week-end I went to the 18th birthday party of a close family member.  It was a lovely evening where the young person was surrounded by family and friends cheering on their coming of age.

But boy do I see things through different eyes now I don’t drink!  In my old drinking days this would have been a bona fide excuse to get absolutely ripped.  The kids would have been amused with a film whilst I got down to the job of drinking and smoking myself to oblivion.  They would have been put to bed at the host’s home and we would have carried on carousing until the early hours.  Mother’s day the next day would have been completely ruined as I would have been hanging from a major hangover and Bloody Mary’s would have been the order of the day for an early lunchtime to try and manage the pain in my head. But I wasn’t an alcoholic was I because the drink at lunchtime when I had finished drinking in the early hours of the night before, and struggled out of bed at 10 or 11am,  wasn’t a drink first thing in the morning was it? 😉

The amount of booze at this party could have sunk a small ship.  When did it morph from taking a four pack of beer to taking a whole slab or case, from one bottle of wine to three and bottles of spirits?  The total units of alcohol sitting inside this house was mind-bending, liver failing and made me feel quite sick at just the thought.

Is this a marketing thing where it is just cheaper to buy this larger volume?  It would seem so as this week Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has criticised the “deplorable” tactics of supermarkets designed to encourage customers to buy “ever-greater quantities of alcohol” in the latest annual report on the state of the public’s health.  Within this report she also says ‘in popular culture, drinking alcohol to excess is sometimes portrayed as normal behaviour. An analysis of six weeks of soap operas in the UK in 2010 found 162 instances of characters drinking to excess, with negative consequences rarely shown’.  Do people just drink more and is the normalisation of this behaviour in the soaps supporting this excessive drinking?  We used to say that people should bring their body weight in booze to a party but we weren’t being serious!!

But I did not want to drink any of it I’m happy to say.  What other people did was absolutely fine by me but I was not tempted in the slightest.  I nursed a couple of AF beers (which threw some people who knew I’d stopped drinking as they thought I had started again until I pointed out that it was alcohol free) and we took the kids home at 10pm when they got tired.  People were unsurprisingly fairly well oiled and starting to get worse for wear by the time we left.

But the next morning I was struck by the question, how do you celebrate an 18th if you don’t drink?  OK turning 18 means you can also vote but most young people are excited by the prospect of legally drinking.  In the British culture alcohol is so embedded as part of our coming of age rituals that this really foxed me.  How do you mark this milestone without booze??  Any thoughts or suggestions from you? 🙂