Monday, 7 August 2017


When I first quit drinking, I was constantly noticing changes.

Initially, I noticed the lack of hangovers and improved sleep. Then better skin, a less puffy face and bouncy hair. Followed by improved moods and less anxiety. And, after a while, weight loss and better relationships.

Inevitably, though, over time, you find an equilibrium. I didn't think much had changed for the last year.

But then, the I came down to Cornwall with the family for our traditional summer holiday.

I've been getting up early every morning while the children, exhausted from hours of fresh air and surfing, are still dozing, so I can do the final edit of the book which I have to send back to my publisher this week.

As a result, I was re-reading a passage I wrote about coming down to Cornwall just five months after quitting the booze. Here it is:

DAY 155

It’s time to leave for Cornwall!

I get up at the crack of dawn and spend several hours packing, trying to cram everything into our (not large) car and still leave enough room for three children and a dog. This isn’t easy as I’ve bought enough Beck’s Blue (alcohol free beer) to sink a battleship. I don’t know if Beck’s Blue has yet penetrated such a remote corner of the world and want to Be Prepared. Luckily I squish it all in and don’t have to choose between leaving behind the beer or a child. Not quite Sophie’s Choice, but awkward, nonetheless.

I do the drive down in horrible traffic on my own (John, as usual, is following on by train after a day at work). Everyone seems to be heading for the coast, and the M5 resembles a car park rather than a motorway. We’re all hot, tetchy and tired.

Then, finally, we turn off the A30 and onto the North Cornish Coast Road and I can feel the tension leaving my shoulders. Even the air smells different – of heather and salt. We play the usual competition, seeing who can be first to see the sea and shout ‘Icanseethesea! Icanseethesea!’

After another half-hour of tiny Cornish lanes and terrifying blind corners, we arrive at our little cottage. Then I have another hour of unpacking while simultaneously dealing with three overexcited children.

Arriving at a holiday destination pulls every trigger there is: stress (tick), exhaustion (tick), celebration (tick), reward (tick), anxiety (tick). BUT I have planned ahead! I am an expert at this game! I have a chilled Beck’s Blue waiting for exactly this moment.

What I hadn’t counted on was there being NO SODDING BOTTLE OPENER! What kind of holiday cottage doesn’t provide a bottle opener?! I turn the cottage upside down. The children are hollering to go to the beach. I’m a woman possessed. I look like… AN ADDICT! (Who’d have thought it?). Or a crazy poltergeist, opening and closing, then reopening, every drawer and every cupboard.

I’ve obviously lived a sheltered existence as I have no idea how to get the lid off a beer bottle without an opener. I try everything, and only succeed in hurting my hands. In the end, I go into the tiny walled garden and smash the top off on a stone. Needless to say, beer goes everywhere, leaving me with two gulps of liquid, lots of foam and broken glass and smelling like a brewery.

It strikes me as ironic that, however badly I was addicted to alcohol back in the day, I never resorted to smashing bottles like a lunatic.

The kids and I walk down a narrow footpath, across a field, over a stile and through a dark, tangled copse down to the beach. As the sun sets, we sit on the rocks and eat Cornish ice cream, watching the waves crashing, with hypnotic regularity, on to the sand. Bliss. The vast Atlantic Ocean and three weeks’ holiday stretching out in front of us. I watch some reckless teenagers tombstoning off the cliff into the choppy waters below, and the dog – in a hilarious display of hope over experience – trying to catch a seagull.

Later, the children are in bed, windblown, exhausted and happy, and the dog is fast asleep, his legs twitching as he dreams of finally getting the better of those birds. I’m snuggled on the windowsill in my pyjamas, looking out at the stunning, wild, wet and windy landscape and listening for the sound of John’s taxi. He’ll be fresh as a daisy after a relaxing train journey with a good book and a half bottle of vino. But I forgive him as he should, as instructed earlier today, be carrying a bottle opener. If he isn’t, I’m not letting him in.

And, on reading this passage, I realised that I ran out of Beck's Blue a week ago and haven't even bothered to search the local shops for more.

That's another addiction crossed off the list!

Happy holidays, everyone.

Love SM x


  1. Well done! I feel like I've had a vacation in Cornwall myself now.
    Getting rid of the drinking addiction has led me to drop all the other ones, one by one. Next up: compulsively checking in on political twitters to get some hope on life here in the U.S. I started doing it for two hours a day, once you add it all up. And then I tell myself I don't have time for exercise.
    Good luck on your final edit. I have just started chapter one. ��

  2. It's funny SM, because I just told my hubby that I realize I have hardly been drinking the AF beer of late!!! Now, to conquer my candy crush addiction!! xo

  3. OMG this had me in stitches! The panic at not being able to open a non alcoholic beer. Forgive me I know the panic was real at the time but it just illustrates the addicted mind so well!!!

  4. So no more Becks Blue addiction! Who'd have thought it? I'm now utterly addicted to my wine replacement - Pepsi Max, it's definitely a replacement addiction, but this gives me hope that perhaps one I'll gradually leave behind.
    I'm heading off on holiday tomorrow too, and still find the old attraction to drinking when abroad - I'll be re-reading some of your old threads to keep my resolve strong!! (As well as supping plenty of Pepsi Max).

  5. I used to feel the same, I had to have my becks blue in stock at the weekend!!! Now I have it if I'm out, but mainly drink sparkling water and lemon at home, can not and will not stop my coffee addiction though!!! Love my coffee! :-) xxxx

  6. I've just passed about 150 days, so it's good to know it keeps getting better.

  7. Funny I was thinking exactly the same on hols. Have quite a stash of AF beers but keep forgetting about them. Also have found I don't need to have a drink of any kind at my elbow in the evenings anymore. Coming up to 16 months for me and its not an issue. Do have a little chocolate addiction on the go though!

  8. Hi there SM (and indeed all! Your other lovely readers) This is the second time I've read your blog now (all the way from the very beginning twice ��) I love it! You are truly an inspiration and I'm so glad you're publishing the book! The reason I've read it twice is because as you probably guessed, this is my second crack at sobriety. The first time I made it to 3 months, and then was pulled of the wagon by (bizarrely) a friend who doesn't actually drink that much... she's a normie! You'd think it would be a fellow booze hound wouldn't you!? (There's a cautionary take there). Anyway I'm on day 44 again now, and I'm glad to say I've a much stronger sense of determination this time... brought about partly by my "f#*ck you attitude of old... aimed, on this occasion, at my mother of all people. Both my parents have always been problem drinkers (let's be honest, alcoholics). I honestly don't recall one night when they didn't put away at least 3 bottles between them. I grew up with the belief that wine is as common place as milk and tea. That said I didn't expect my mother to be quite to scathing of my new life choice... she actually called me boring to my face!! Cheers mum! I'm just putting it down to my shining an unwelcome spotlight on her own drinking habits... chalk it up, move on. Incidentally I've written one blog post... I thought I'd have a crack since it seems to be such a helpful tool to a lot of my compadres... You can read my back story here if you like... comments would be most gratefully received. Much love to everyone... onwards and upwards hey? Xx

    1. Welcome, Laws, and huge congrats on 44 days! Will check out your blog. You are awesome, and definitely not boring! Big hugs xxx