Today is exactly half way through the month of September and exactly half way through our Alcohol Free Month. This is what the contents of our glass recycling bin looks like today and yes, you'd be forgiven for thinking it looks a bit empty, as we stare into the void that is the glaring absence of wine and beer bottles.
It feels like a very long month.
I often hear of people having a "dry month" in January to compensate for the excesses of Christmas and New Year. But January, the bleakest of months, is not a month I'd ever choose to give up something I love - I need the promise and reward of a nice glass of red wine by the fire to keep me going when the days are short and cold, sunshine is scarce. and bank accounts depleted. But September, the month of beginnings and new resolutions, felt like a good month to try it. It seemed like a good idea when we were in France, eating and drinking lots - possibly a little too much - to have a month off. To give our livers, wallets and waistlines a rest. To just see if we could. John is abstaining with me and I'm very glad he is, as we stop each other wavering and feeling tempted.
It's really made me think about my relationship with alcohol. I do like a drink. In particular, a glass of wine, nice wine. A cold bottle of beer or gin and tonic is always welcome too, especially in the summer, but wine takes first place. I look forward to that time of day, around 7.30 pm, when the children are in bed and we are cooking our dinner and we open a bottle of wine. The clink of the wine glasses coming out of the cupboard. It feels sociable and friendly, cooking side by side and sipping our drinks, a moment to savour at the end of a busy day. But we can still have that without alcohol, I am finding. It's ok, we haven't killed each other yet.
The reactions of others have been interesting, too. I keep having to repeatedly assure friends that no, I'm not pregnant, I promise. Does a non-drinker (even if she's only a temporary one) make drinkers uncomfortable? I went out for a meal at the start of the month to celebrate a friend's birthday and another friend had brought along of bottle of champagne. Despite being the driver for the night and explaining about our "month off", my polite refusal to have a drink was met with a "don't be rude!" attitude and I ended up accepting a small glass just to be nice. I had two sips and found that I didn't really want it. But the next night, at book group, no-one batted an eyelid and they made me a cup of tea. Which was lovely.
I'm glad I've come this far and we will definitely see it out to the end of the month. But I will be honest and say that I'm very much looking forward to the first of October and to opening that really nice bottle of Riesling we brought back from France.