Sunday, 15 September 2013

A Dry Spell


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.



34 comments:

  1. Being a non drinker all my life, I've encountered many people who think your batty and make a point of making you feel uncomfortable. I do sometimes have a shandy (with hubby) which comprises about an inch of beer in a tall glass then filled with lemonade. I'm just catching up on some of your blog and enjoyed photos of France. Take care and don't let anyone force you into anything.

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  2. I can't drink most alcoholic drinks as they contain sulphites which make me ill. I thought I would struggle with it but I don't miss it now.

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  3. I very very rarely drink, to be honest I don't care what people think about that!! When asked why... I tell them because it dehydrates my skin... The truth is I was raised by an alcoholic father that got clean and sober when I was a teenager.. at that point no drink was allowed and since we don't have pubs... I just never drank! When I'm on holiday I'll sometimes drink white wine its delicious!
    Good luck on the rest of your month, when you open that French wine it will be gorgeous!!
    Tammy x

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  4. I very very rarely drink, to be honest I don't care what people think about that!! When asked why... I tell them because it dehydrates my skin... The truth is I was raised by an alcoholic father that got clean and sober when I was a teenager.. at that point no drink was allowed and since we don't have pubs... I just never drank! When I'm on holiday I'll sometimes drink white wine its delicious!
    Good luck on the rest of your month, when you open that French wine it will be gorgeous!!
    Tammy x

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  5. I'm used to people being weird about my lack of interest in drinking. It's always been this way for me though, I didn't even drink much in school. I think what you're doing sounds very healthy and you'll be glad you made the effort and will appreciate it more when your break is over, I think.

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  6. We have had the same thoughts after our return from France and have been trying to cut down. I find I sleep much better without alcohol in my system but I agree a glass of wine in the evening is very tempting. I think I enjoy a glass of wine most on a Friday night when I have had a dry week. As it's Monday that's what I'll aim for this week. I;m sure you'll stick it out and hey think of the money saved!!! Claire xo

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  7. I'm drinking less at the moment mainly to save a few calories though I'm not a big drinker anyway. What really annoyed me about your party anecdote was that you were driving but your friends still pushed you to drink. I've known one of my friends over 20 years but when we go to her house we still go through the performance of her asking me if I want a drink and me saying no, I'm driving. Stick to your guns! x

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  8. Interesting! I'm not a drinker....probably one glass a year at christmas! or perhaps my social life is pretty quiet! you'll probably save a few pennies too. Good luck, you'll have to share a pot of herb tea instead! Heather x

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  9. My relationship with alcohol is similar to yours, OH and I are retired, we often enjoy one or two beers together at lunch time, and wine in the evening, and I adore gin and tonic, always limit myself to just two at any one time though. I would really miss it if I stopped, and feel that at our age (both in our 60s) we've earned it after a hard and long working life, but it does cost, and is high in calories. I'm currently engaging the 5/2 diet, so on my 5 days I eat and drink as usual, and on my 2 days I have neither meat nor alcohol - seems to work quite well and I dont miss it. Well done for your first half a month abstinence, and good luck for the remaining 15 days, Joy xx

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  10. Did you hear the food programme on radio 4 yesterday? All about bard which only serve non alcoholic drinks, very interesting.
    Lisa x

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  11. It's mad isn't it - how people can't just let other people not drink! Why do they care if you're having a drink or not? It's not like you're stopping them from drinking! If I ever don't feel like a drink I get the same sort of reaction - I find it quite annoying that I actually have a fight on my hands just to not drink some alcohol!
    Good luck with the rest of the month! Maria x

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  12. when in the uk i drank all the time (you know, in the evening, not all day!!!) but here in nz there isn't really a drinking culture and so i don't drink almost at all, maybe a cold beer once or twice a year. Now a chocolate free month, now that would be my challenge, i don't thing i could even go a week!
    good luck with the rest of the month, it's healthy to know you drink because you chose to rather than out of habit or need x

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  13. I am a non-drinker and people around me gradually got used to it. Though it seems quite incomprehensible for some to accept that someone doesn't drink not because she's pregnant, driving, taking medicines..., but becuase it's a person's choice. Funnily enough if a person says he doesn't like chocolate, no one says he's rude, eh?

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  14. Well written, Gillian. I come from a family of wine-lovers and, hey, I live in France not 50 metres from the Vouvray vineyards and yet... I can do without alcohol for days, weeks even. I like the thought of it - I completely identify with your almost symbolic need for a comforting treat in the evening - but I don't like the effect it has on me as I tend to feel lethargic. Also, here in France, children do not go to bed until much later in the evening, so my husband and I do not get to eat alone in the evenings and consequently wine rarely makes an appearance.

    On the otherhand I am a lover of good coffee (I love the creative kick it gives me) and I think spending a whole month without that precious first morning coffee would make me feel the same as you, for sure.

    GOOD LUCK!

    Stephanie

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  15. I drink very little alchohol and never if I am driving, not one sip. People can be funny about it, but I just ignore them. I know what you mean though about people thinking you are being rude, you aren't, you are just sticking to what you have planned. If you had been pregnant they would not have batted an eyelid, so why can't they have the same approach if you are having a month off, a night off, because you are driving, or just because for goodness sake. Sorry, getting cross on your behalf now!

    You should do as you want and not worry about others. You might confuse the recycling collectors though!! Have a good rest of the month and enjoy your next glass of wine when ever that happens to be.

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  16. Good for you! D and I should really do the same. I am a wine drinker - don't like spirits at all - and do love a glass while preparing the supper; it sort of punctuates the day.

    It was a little unfair of your friends to make you feel you had to have a drink - I should imagine it stems from nothing more than a little guilt about their own drinking habits.

    Hang on in there - gosh, won't you enjoy your first glass in October?!

    Heather x

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  17. Isn't it funny how people automatically assume your pregnant if your off the booze hehe. I think it's a really good idea having a dry month especially in January :) x

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  18. Well done you, Gillian!

    Like you I, too have made the experience of being pushed to drink when I really didn't want to ("oh come, just a teeny weeny tiny little glass won't to you any harm"). I don't care so much these days but when I first moved to the UK 15 years ago, I did feel I had to oblige to fit in. I am more of a virtual drinker actually, I enjoy the idea of a glass of wine but rarely have one -probably because I don't have the energy to get up from the sofa. I do worry about how my oldest will cope with the pressure to drink... he is nearly 13 and will soon be confronted with such problems.

    I do look forward to a nice cold G&T on a Friday night!

    Christina x

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  19. I don't drink, and you are right, some drinkers don't much like it. I think it makes them uncomfortable maybe. Hope you enjoy your alcohol free month.

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  20. Like Susan I'm a non drinker, socially I'm told I'm boring and I should "Let myself go" but I don't like the taste of alcohol or how it makes me feel. The up-side is the next day I don't have a headache, the down side is I'm always the driver. I think everyone is different and if you like a drink - great, enjoy it but it's not for everyone.

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  21. Well done for lasting this far like you I love a nice glas of wine in the evening with my other half, it does seems to symbolise when me time and relaxation, unwind time starts. It is so easy though to carry on and finish the bottle we sometimes look in horror at our recycling! but in the week we only ever have one glass in the evening so our bottles last longer although sometimes I think our glasses get bigger.

    sue x

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  22. I'm not much of a drinker myself, I will have a glass of wine or a raspberry vodka on a Saturday night but that's it really. I am very petite and can't 'hold' my drink as such anyway! After a glass I am chattering like a budgie! I know what you mean about people's attitudes when you don't have a drink though...I think people do this make themselves feel better.
    Marianne x

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  23. Good for you, Gillian! I could take or leave drinking (although a glass of Reisling is indeed too tempting for me!), but since you went through the month with chocolate hazelnut spread and pesto, I'd say you had a delicious month anyway! I couldn't go a month without either of them, that's for sure!

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  24. I love a glass or two of good white wine on a Friday evening, it's a little treat fir working hard in the week and I enjoy every sip! I don't like drinking alcohol in the week as it would affect my next days performance at work and no doubt would be a little irritable :o) I think having a dry month is an excellent idea, it can be quite good for the purse as well as health, the price of wine seems to have gone up quite a lot. Well done for not being tempted to open your bottle from France xox Penny

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  25. I am not a big drinker at all, but I do like the occasional glass of wine, or a nice beer. I could totally go a month without alcohol and be just fine. It sounds like you have a very special bottle of Riesling to reward yourself with in October.

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  26. I totally agree that September is the time to do it. Keep going, I am cheering you on from over here. Jo x

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  27. Hi Gillian,

    I've come back to tell you that I just nominated your blog for a Liebster Award--to find out what on earth THAT is (I didn't know either until I got one myself), here is the link: http://www.joyfullygreen.com/2013/09/spreading-the-words.html.

    You can also look in the Related Articles at the bottom of the post for the official rules of the Liebster Award--my own post was already getting looooong and I just didn't want to clog it up with rules, of all things!

    I hope you enjoy this experience as much as I did.

    Best,
    Joy

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  28. Well Done Gillian!! It's always a good time to do some detox!! We usually drink on Friday and Saturday nights with the odd drink here and there mid week if I have bookclub or go out etc... but limiting it to a few days a week makes me appreciate my beer more when I have one.
    In the summer things change a bit as we feel like drinking something fresher more often.....
    I bet that French Riesling is going to taste divine!!!
    Pati x

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  29. Well done Gillian, keep at it! I've had some wonderful wine in Florence and really enjoyed it! I'm not a big drinker, two glasses at most and go weeks, months without a drop, but I do like a nice glass of red. I've missed such a lot whilst I've been away, love those sunflowers, always so much colour here, love it! :) x

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  30. Honestly a month without alcohol would be no hardship for me, I only drink a couple of units a week at last count, although when I was younger it was more. I generally stick to cider now too as my body seems to have stopped tolerating wine, it really upsets my stomach. But a month without chocolate, now that would be my challenge ... I looked at this post and I thought that choccy spread sounds lovely!

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  31. Having just done "Dry August" I can relate to everything in this Post. The first week was the hardest, purely because it was such a habit, as you describe. Daniel would come home from work and out came the glasses for a restorative glass of wine. But absolutely no problem getting through the month and we both felt better for it and now drink less and enjoy it more. I would rather not have to go through a whole month without chocolate though!

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  32. I currently have a serious chocolate addiction problem! I need a month or 4 away from sweets! I blame the baby - I'm not getting enough sleep ;-) Good luck with the rest of month! x

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  33. I have a dear friend in Virgina (US) who has a dry February (less days to go through!) I think a dry month is a good idea - It helps clear your body and refocus the mind. I'm cutting back to avoid the calories and find that people do have a funny reaction to a woman turning down a drink when she may not usually do so!

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  34. I have the same relationship with booze as you by the sounds of things. A month off sounds a real challenge if not supported by loved ones and friends. Gosh that makes me sound like an alcoholic!

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