Dry January

wine & glass

For many years now that we have observed the above sacrifice, and this start to 2019 is going to be no exception, thus joining, albeit temporarily, the 20% of adult Britons who abstain from alcohol (according to a YouGov survey).

In addition, we are also making it a pescatarian event, and I suppose also what is known in the press as a DeTox. However, never before have I kept a day to day record of our progress, which has the added advantage of reinforcing the will power, as the publicity of failure will hopefully prevent the shame of a relapse.

It should be made clear straight away that Jean observes a much healthier lifestyle than I do, but in our own relative ways it will be interesting to record our journey in February!

First Week

dry jan

 

 

 

Our New Year’s Day Annual Lunch BBQ for the family starts us off and with a glass of champagne, followed by a delicious meal of Tandoori Chicken, Cumberland sausages, Corn on the Cob, Jacket Potatoes, Pineapple dessert and Cheese & Biscuits, so it was difficult, as usual, to resist a glass or three of wine.  Not a great start, some would quite rightly say, but it was a one-off, and it adds to the determination to be applied on the following 30 days!

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The reader will be pleased to hear that the 2nd & 3rd days went exactly to plan – no alcohol (it is of course safely locked away) – so far so good. Day 4 was a small test as I usually meet my mates at lunchtime in the Polgooth Inn, but as I always have 2 diet cokes in the middle of the day it was really no problem. I couldn’t help having a sideways glance along the bar as they took their first sip of St Austell Cornish draught and exhaled deeply, and with a smack of the lips saying something like ‘That’s better’! But they now accept my situation and gone are the days when they ask ‘Why’ or even ‘How’?

Now we’re on day 6 and safely on course: with no alcohol, 10,000+ steps each day, various fish dishes, vegetables and fruit, reasonably early nights and, in Jean’s case, yoga and meditation.

You may wonder why anyone does it each year. Well the reasons/excuses are well documented elsewhere, and make good, if slightly optimistic reading. ‘Save money, weight loss, brighter eyes, clear head, consistent moods, more energy, no wondering who will drive home’ etc. , or for the more serious contenders, ‘unexpected joy of being constantly sober’, ‘go to bed with great memories that one can remember the next morning’. With reference to the last one, do they take age into consideration?

We do it, I am sure, for health benefits, and for the mental satisfaction of being in control. After all it’s only 4 weeks and 3 days, or 744 hours, or even 44640 minutes….and thank goodness we don’t work as a wine taster or columnist, or a in a brewery!!

pants

Well, now on day 10, and we don’t actually think about a glass of wine, even when confronted with Jean’s fabulous fish dishes. No more falling asleep in front of the TV in the evening either. In my case the belt is 1 notch tighter so that’s no bad thing, although I forgot to do the adjustment yesterday before going to Truro, and, on possibly the coldest day of the winter, I nearly lost control! in the main street!

Today is January 13th (day 12 owing to late start) and the novelty is starting to wear off a little – not enough to herald a relapse – but a time of reflection maybe. Of course we are well aware that January is not the best month to embark on a dramatic change, as the weather is not the best (although better than usual), it’s got 31 days, the credit card bills for the Xmas period are arriving in the post (or computer depending on your scientific progress in this digital age), it’s still dark in the mornings, even if like us you don’t have to go to work…..I could go on, but we are where we are and will stick to it. After the excesses of the Christmas and New Year period, the need and my waistline are easily enough to psychologically drive us (or rather me) on. By us, I refer not only to Jean and I, but the thousands, or even millions, who have embarked on the same journey.

fish pie

The fish dishes, healthy food, lots of exercise and the text book existence are all in free flow – unlike the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, tailor-made for Jean’s wonderful fish creations, which remains safely locked away in the cupboard.

Monday 14th was our annual lunch for the members of the PLC (Premier Luncheon Club). The ten of us gather in a pub or each others houses once per month. There were 9 of us on this occasion and I have never known such an abstemious lunch party or in fact any other party. Four course meal and only half a bottle of wine consumed, plus a couple of beers. Jean and I were obviously not imbibing, and there were two other dry January persons, one just recovering from flu and on antibiotics, one with a doctors appointment later, and 3 trying to cut down. Sign of age maybe?? Oh, and Jean’s fish pie was excellent, even without the NZ Savignon Blanc!

Tuesday was band rehearsal, Wednesday choir practice – no temptation there – still firmly in sobersphere! I put out the bins tonight and this says it all:

December                                                            January

 

 

On Wednesday night I went a little off the rails – gin and tonic with a slice of lime, couple of glasses of the now infamous Savignon Blanc,and a whiskey to finish off. Boy, did I enjoy it…..but then I woke up from my dream, and made do with a glass of water.

 

 

Great walks on the beach this week in pretty good weather for January and energy levels definitely improved. Both ends of a nice rainbow above (Jean in red coat).

Thursday 17th was probably for me the worst day so far. I have, unfortunately, blocked ears and, after several days of olive oil and bicarb of soda to no avail, I am having them syringed next week. In addition I hurt my back gardening, so sitting unhappily in my armchair alone (Jean was at a charity Bingo evening) I did just manage to avoid the temptation. In degrees of difficulty (0 to 10) all the previous days were definitely a zero, but that night was maybe a 3. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.

It’s now Friday 18th (halfway house) and it’s pub lunchtime again. Happy to say dry January wasn’t discussed – I think my friends are sick of hearing about it in the news, the blogs, Facebook and other social media. There’s actually a website called dryjanuary.org, and of course they hear it from me, as telling everyone is part of the strategy to avoid the shame of breaking the fast.

dryjan

Talking about blogs it would seem I am not the only one, by any means, recording the month’s progress. I took time out to read some and by far the most interesting, and unusual, was a 26 year old lady in New York City. Her main concern, or you could call it her obsession, was the effect it was having on her skin: “Should I use more moisturiser? Or is it the foundation? Or perhaps some better night cream?” Or “My hair seems more coarse, or is it my brighter eyesight?” It’s obviously easier for us older folks, especially if you’re of the male species with not too much on top!

We’re invited out for an Indian meal at one of our favourite restaurants tonight. However, it’s BYO, so if we don’t take any…we won’t drink any either. There are, of course, other liquids, without alcohol. It was a great meal and a jug of South West Water made a fine accompaniment. In fact, it was easily justified, as with the many herbs and spices in the delicious food, the wine would have been tasteless and a waste of time (and money). Mmmm……I think the head is getting too big for the halo.

Jean’s sister arrived on Saturday and we always eat well during her visits. She has a penchant for white wine (NZ Savignon Blanc as it happens), but, god bless her, she had decided to join us in abstaining for the weekend. We had a great walk at Lanhydrock:

lanhydrock

Another of Jean’s specialities was a fish curry in the evening, again with the local water supply, although the girls splashed out on a couple of slimline tonic waters. Hey Ho!

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Sunday 20th January. We had a lovely walk at Pentewan Beach, the tide was out exposing a vast expanse of sand and we had the unusual sighting a party of Old English Sheepdogs. Note the pink leggings 3rd from the right. We talked to the owners, who all showed their animals professionally, and I asked one of them how long it took to groom their dog, as they all looked immaculate, even after a run around the beach. “About 8 hours” she replied, “A bit longer before the shows!” That’s dedication for you!

It’s now Monday 21st January and nearing the 3 week marker. It has become almost natural not to drink alcohol with meals, and maybe an education, once again, for my taste buds; although I have to say that, when looking for a cup tonight, I opened the glass cupboard by mistake (Freud would have liked that). I nearly asked them if they were enjoying their holiday.

clubsoda

This lady’s website is called clubsoda.co.uk

As I write this entry we’re starting to contemplate the future, and what will happen at the end of the month. Well, we discussed it, and at the moment Jean would like a glass of wine on the 1st Feb. I’m not so sure, as I often go well into February before giving in, although I wouldn’t bet on it. Our 10 day holiday in the Canaries, starting 23rd February may be the deciding factor.

Do I feel better? Well yes, I think I do. Half a stone lighter, sleeping better, more energy, and even the PMR seems more bearable (if you don’t know what that is click here to find out). It’s not, by the way, anything to do with PMT!!

dietcoke

The teetotal detox routine continues this week – plenty of evening activities such as band and choir, where no-one drinks anyway, and a Lions meeting where I paid a generous  £3.20 for a diet coke. Friday was pub lunchtime drink (no teasing), and a trip to the pantomime in the evening (not the Lions meeting this time) with an ice cream in the interval.

Time flies by and it’s now Saturday 26th January  and the finishing line is well and truly in our sights. It would seem that most of the UK research on abstaining from alcohol emanates from the University of Sussex – the reason for this is unclear, and hopefully doesn’t reflect upon the drinking habits of the residents of its geographical location in Brighton and Hove, but is does make interesting reading. Some may question the long-term benefits of ditching drink for just 31 days but here is what I found:

This research, led by University of Sussex psychologist Dr. Richard de Visser, was conducted with over 800 people who took part in Dry January last year – and the results show that the participants were still drinking less in August. They reported that the average amount of participants’ drinking days fell from 4 to 3 per week; their average amount of drinks per drinking day fell from 8.6 to 7.1; and the average amount of times they reported being drunk dropped from 3 times per month to 2. “The simple act of taking a month off alcohol helps people drink less in the long term: by August, people are reporting one extra dry day per week,” said Visser.

So, there you go.

Of course there has to be a downside, and that comes, not surprisingly from the Pub landlords,  who can expect a drop in profits in 2019 because a whopping 4.2 million people in the UK are on the bandwagon, which doesn’t suit their trade one iota. At least it follows a month of high demand and consumption over the holiday period, which somewhat clouds our sympathy !! Furthermore, having spent the last month paying for diet cokes, club soda and other soft drinks, there should be plenty of profit at those surprisingly high prices.

For the past 3 days there is a weird feeling that the end is in sight, almost perceptible (no, I’m not talking about Brexit). Lots of music practice to occupy us, as Tuesday was a big concert to raise funds for the local hospice, and plenty of beach walking with Lola and Betty, our daughter Wendy’s dogs. Still 2 days to go so we mustn’t get carried away just yet.

With the 6 Nations Rugby starting this first weekend in February, it will be tempting to have a beer or 2, and we’re are visiting Julie, Jean’s sister in Devon which could also be our downfall as she is rather fond of a glass of Sauvignon Blanc!

Image result for google

Given that  and estimated 4.5 million people in UK started a dry January this year, I was wondering how the drop out percentage figure was shaping up. On these occasions Google gives most of the answers, and so I dutifully typed in “given up dry January” and got 194 million results. Well, I suppose that is for the world, so I added “UK” and reduced that to 187 million. I then added “2019” and it’s down to a mere 132 million. Of course that includes entries for anything remotely related to the subject – ranging from some genuine drop outs to weather data, and even a recipe for a dry martini!

It’s February 1st and millions of dry-Januaryers will, I’m sure, be taking their first glass of wine, and also congratulating themselves on a job well done. In our case we have to wait one more day as we only started after our New Year’s day lunch party.

February 2nd, a Saturday, we are off to Jean’s sister Julie for the weekend. Well it’s 6 nations weekend and after a pulsating win by Wales over France the previous evening, we had a fantastic display by England to beat Ireland away from home. Celebrations were in order, even though Jean and her sister are Irish, and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc was duly opened with dinner. Yes, it did taste like nectar, and the glass of Red Cabernet with the cheese was just like the proverbial ‘Balm of Gilead’ spreading relaxation and goodwill to our systems!

Definitely worth the effort – we feel better, have more energy, got more jobs done around the house, and in my case lost 10 lbs in weight.

Amen.

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