Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Beyond Dry January



I did Dry January a few times, back in the old days.

I would always start a day or two late. After all, a relatively boozy January 1st was the only really sensible way to cope with the hangover from New Year's Eve - right?

By this point in January, I'd be ready to throw in the towel.

I've made it through pretty much the whole month! I'd congratulate myself. I've proven to myself that I CAN DO IT. I'm not an 'alcoholic'. What's more, I've learned my lesson. I've 'recalibrated.' No more excess for me! From now on, it's 'everything in moderation.'

Yet, by the end of February, I'd be back to drinking just as much as before, probably more so.

Is that how you're thinking right now?

I really don't want to get all preachy here. If you really can drink happily and sensibly, then crack on. I admire you. (Although, full disclosure, I hate you a teeny bit too. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?)

But can you? Really?

Or are you an all-or-nothing person who finds trying to moderate stuff not just difficult, but exhausting and soul destroying?

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life just waiting for the next opportunity to have the next drink, and constantly hating yourself for drinking more than you were supposed to?

Wouldn't it be better to be free of all that?

Here are some good reasons to keep going:

You've done the hard bit already.

You've done the physical detox. You've probably been feeling utterly exhausted, maybe you've had headaches and felt a bit flu-ey, perhaps you've had trouble getting to sleep. You might have been grumpy and distracted and generally a bit meh. 

But now you're coming out the other side.

Your poor, abused body is emerging from its chrysalis thinking way-hey! Shiny new world of toxin-free loveliness! I am a butterfly! See my pretty wings! 

Do you really want to fill it up to the brim with poisons again?

The good bits are yet to come!

The real benefits of being sober take weeks, months and some take years to really emerge. You've seen nothing yet.

Right now you should be feeling your energy levels returning. Your brain starts firing on all cylinders and you feel more creative and 'buzzed' than you've done for ages.

Imagine what you could achieve over the next year or two if you keep on going? Write a book? Decorate a house? Start a business?

You might have lost some of the boozy puffiness, but usually the more dramatic weight loss takes a while to kick in. For me it didn't happen until after about one hundred days.

By now I bet you've started sleeping brilliantly. Your body is just starting to enjoy the deep, restful sleep it's been craving for years, and the benefits of that proper sleep keep on coming, if you let them.

After a few weeks off the booze you're probably feeling your anxiety levels subside and your moods levelling out. Imagine the impact of that on the rest of your life, and on all your relationships, if it continues!

And I've bet you've saved some money, right? Well, multiply that by twelve and think about what you could treat yourself to in a year's time if you're not throwing money away on alcohol.

Up till now, you've probably been thinking about booze an awful lot. It's taking up a huge amount of headspace. Well, after a few months sober, you just stop thinking about it.

It's really is such a relief having so much time and space to think about other stuff. And the sense of peace and freedom that comes from that is just around the corner, if you keep on marching.

If you start drinking again now, having done all the hard bits, but not yet got to the really good bits, then all you're doing is re-inforcing to your subconscious that life without booze is miserable.

Keep on going, and you'll soon discover that that is absolutely not the case.

Miracles wait around the next corner, so don't stop now....

If you'd like to know more about what happens in the first year after giving up booze, then check out my book, The Sober Diaries (available in hardback, e-book and audio). Click here to go to my Amazon page. You can read the first few chapters for free with the 'look inside' feature.

(By the way, a HUGE thanks to the ONE HUNDRED people who've left such incredible reviews. I am completely overwhelmed).

For daily inspiration and information go to the SoberMummy Facebook page here, or follow me on Instagram @clare_pooley

Love to you all!

SM x


66 comments:

  1. Morning Clare xxx the old you sounds just like the old me! The exact same thought process! All I can say is that stopping drinking is by far the best thing I ever did for myself, my family and my health. The best advice you gave me in the beginning was to take one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, and it helped me so much! If people have done dry jan and are feeling good, imagine how good you will feel after another sober month, then another! As you know Clare cause I’ve said it a zillion times, thankyou for helping change my life!! One day at a time!

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  2. Hi Claire, this is just all so true...I was doing just the same having to do the hard bit over and over. It’s only when you are truly free that you can see that . Great post thanks :)

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  3. So true - Spandau Ballet - no one seems to get my mind . Am struggling x

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    1. Hi Sweetie! I’ve only just seen this! Are you still struggling? Mail me if so: sobermummy@gmail.com xxx

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  4. Hello! I was a "moderate" drinker but in reality - for me , that means devoting a LOT of time to thinking and working out - how much I could have or what drinks I could have so I could still still do the things I wanted to do the next day !I realised its just better all round if I just don't drink - I have so much more energy , I have so much more time! its freedom! im on day 12 now :)

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  5. I remember counting my way through dry January ... I also remember the headache I had on 1st February and questioning why I did it!!! The freedom of 'dry everyday' is just so .. Freeing!! Anybody out there counting January, follow Claire's lead and keep counting ... You will lose count and suddenly find yourself at 100 ... Onwards and free ... Promise :-))

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  6. THANK you for all you are doing. I read your book and loved it. Read to manage the obstacle parts and get to the good bits. :-) Day 17 and already feel like I'm a better parent, better friend and better version of me. Thanks, Clare.

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  8. I love your book - it's funny and touching and (unlike many 'give up the booze books’) not at all preachy. I've read some that say you shouldn't count the days (I'm on day 24) or replace your booze with alternatives (I've started a blog so I know what I’ve tried and what I think of it – it’s at http://grownupdrinksforthesoberimbiber.blogspot.co.uk/ if you’re stuck for something grown-up to try) so I’m not very good at following advice. But I feel great – sleeping better, increased concentration and I’m slowly losing weight (although that might be because I’m running more because I’m not hungover). My children are happier because ‘grumpy mum’ has finally left the building! If you’re flagging, keep at it, it really is worth it.

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  9. Feel a strong need to ‘get away from it all’ -a sane rupture from the drinking cycle. Does anyone know of a place that does not charge ridiculous amounts of money where we can go to be busy (Pilates, crafts, healthy eating, conversation, etc) but that doesn’t have any alcohol?

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    1. try yoga! there are any amount of different types out there . or a walking , ramblers group ? I'm 2 weeks in and finding exercise really helpful . I book classes in the evening .

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    2. I totally agree about exercise! I find long dog walks with friends really helpful, or look for a yoga or Zumba or Pilates class. Or several of my readers have found amazing community choirs or evening art classes.... Often these things are local council subsidised! Xxx

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  10. Reading your book now. I so identify with you. I am 1496 days sober after alcohol slowly took hold of me in my 40s. I ended up drinking everyday and thought nothing of a whisky at breakfast time. The anxiety of being caught was all consuming yet I carried on. I was eventually caught when my so-called secret stash was found and then went to AA which was the best decision of my life. In sobriety I have dealt with divorce, family estrangement, realtionship breakdowns and , guess what, cancer. All this without alcohol. I find myself nodding and saying 'oh yes' to your book. By the way all this identification comes from a man. Alcohol is not a respecter of gender, social class or education. It is a highly additive drug that is far too prevalent in our society. Thank you for your passion.

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    1. Hi Mik! Thanks for your comment! I love hearing from men! You’re right, we are all the same. Addiction is a great leveller! Huge congrats to you on 1471 days!

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    2. Are there any more male gender specific books in a similar vein to ‘The Sober Diaries’ my husband could try?

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    1. Hi Lyndsey! Are you in a bad place? Want to e-mail me? Sobermummy@gmail.com x

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  14. I'm 25 days in, looking forward to the better days to come, although I am feeling fresh and sane come the mornings, which is so very nice. Evenings are still a bit of a challenge, but I know from all those who've crossed to the other side, it will become less so, the longer I stay sober! Thanks for all you do! xoxo!!

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    1. Yay Lia! You’ve been following for ages, so really great to see you at 25 days! Huge congrats xxx

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  15. I've not had a drink since new years eve 2017. Clare I saw your book on my birthday - 28 Dec and ordered it. It has saved me no end. I've also got Jason Vales book kick drink easily and am starting that. It's only in this last week that the insomnia and intense pressure to drink has subsided - now I'm sleeping much better and 0% AF Heineken, Becks and Budweiser have been a godsend. Wine was 100% my thing so these are a good swap and they taste really good. Great for when wine o'clock comes round and I'm sitting on my hands. I'm taking one day as it comes. I didn't plan to quit - it just sort if happened. I'd just had enough of being a slave to alcohol and after a life time, could really start to see the damage it was having on my marriage and family. I still get moments (a lot) of, 'what really?', 'never again?' but one thing I know for sure is that the pressure and torturous moments I've had these last 26 days I am not putting myself through again so it's onwards and up - sober. Another thing I started doing when I quit was cold showers. I read that it eases anxiety and as I was feeling plenty of that, gave it a go. I swear this has helped and in addition my skin and hair are amazing. It's not easy but I'm in a routine now and worth it if you can stick with it. Thank you Clare for being such a fantastic inspiration. You have helped me get my life back. Wishing everyone the best of luck - we can do it. Jacqueline

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    1. Jacqueline - just wanted to say congratulations on 26 days! The determination in your post is inspiring. I’m at 26 days too and agree - don’t need to do that again! ;) I couldn’t agreee more - Clare is such an incredibly brave person for sharing her story and getting so many of us to this wonderful new life. xx

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    2. Thank you Bridget!!! Congratulations to you too! Nearly a whole month both of us. Keep going. We can do it. The alcohol free beers really help me. I only need one, two at most on the evenings when I struggle most. Usually a weekend. They really hit the spot and do the job. One of my friends has just ordered Clare's book on audio. The inspiration in her book is AMAZING. All the best and keep going. I am with you all the way x

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    3. Keep going Jacqueline! And yes, we can do this! Plan something special for 30 days! Glad to know you’re with me. xx

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    4. Will do! Make sure you treat yourself too! Keep me posted on how you are getting on. Jacqueline xx

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    5. Well done both of you! Awesome work! And huge thanks for the cold shower tip. I’m going to try that next time I feel anxious about something! Big hugs xxx

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  16. I am on Dry January and, although feeling much clearer in my head, I am regularly feeling weary and tired, especially with aching limbs when I wake up in the morning. Does anyone know if this is typical and, if so, how long can I expect it to last? I'm also menopausal and don't know if this could be a contributory factor. I have been menopausal for years but was using alcohol to escape from this and other stresses in my life preferring not to feel anything at all. Thanks in advance.

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    1. Yes! Completely normal. I had headaches and was exhausted for weeks. If you read Clare's blog from the start you'll read that it's very common. Don't worry... it goes!

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    2. Hi. Yes, entirely normal from what I’ve experienced. I’m Day 26 and
      Feel great, the headache has mainly gone now but I am
      More tired than I have ever been before. My bones ache I’m so tired. I am sleeping like a log, 12 + hours a night and it still doesn’t feel enough. It is getting better though, hang in there x

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    3. Totally normal! It feels like the early days of pregnancy! Try a Vitamin B supplement- that usually helps! Keep on going - it’ll pass pretty soon! Hugs x

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  17. Hi Clare
    My daughter has literally just rang me to say she is pregnant! If ever there was a time for a drink it would be now instead, I am using this as my day 1 she is going to need me to be 100% by her side. Everything happens for a reason this is mine. Love your book and your blogs x

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    1. Congratulations! By the time the baby arrives you’ll be a super sober Granny with bags of energy, patience and wisdom! Yay!

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    2. ����

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  18. Hi Clare
    I am currently reading your book and it reads so much like my life, even down to the supportive Scottish husba d called John.
    I haven't started on the sober journey yet. I so badly want to but I'm scared I will fail. How crap is that?
    I don't drink every day but when it comes to wine once I have that first glass there is NO stop limit. I have come to hate myself and what I have turned into. I have been known to down nearly 3 bottles of wine in one night.
    I really admire you for what you have achieved and I hope I can find it in me to give up the wine and find that new sober life that you found.
    Ang

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    1. Dear Ang. I felt exactly the same and had felt like that for the longest time. I even did dry Jan five times! But deep down I knew I should stop completely and eventually and with Clare's help I did. And that was two years ago. You CAN do it and it will transform your life. X

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    2. Well done for staying off the booze for two years, that's amazing. 👍👍

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    3. Hi Ang! I got your e-mail! I’m going to reply in more detail via mail. But you CAN do it, so long as you BELIEVE you can! ❤️

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  19. Well done, I'm on day 10 now and yesterday was the first day I thought ok I could have a small drink, poured a splash of drambeu in a glass with a lot of orange juice, but really didn't like the taste. So stopped there, this morning I woke up to hearing my inner self saying you can just have the one - I've kicked that though into touch . I don't want to start again we can do this

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    1. Isn’t it funny how just one sip can kick the wine witch back into action?!? Don’t do it! Big hugs to you xxx

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  20. Hi Clare, I'm a bit of a newbie, waited until 12 Jan to finally concede I have to do this. Mainly for health reasons, I'm terrified my heart is going to break, it thumps so hard in the early hours when I awake in a sweat drenched, alcohol induced anxiety. Anyway, two weeks in, one wobble so far, but I rode it (by going to bed!) - trying a few alcohol free options, but most are too sweet. I've heard some mention alcohol prosecco, where can I get that please? Sainsbury's fizzy wine labelled as a '5' of the sweet/dry scale was simply syrup to me. Cheers!

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    1. I have discovered that Bottle Green Elderflower with half tonic and half fizzy water with lots of ice fits the bill at 'drinks time'. Or the non alcoholic beers (as a wine drinker (ex) I find them refreshing and different). Hope this helps .. Hang on in there :-))

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    2. There’s a very good alcohol-free prosecco style drink called Pearl (not the best name, I agree) in normal or pink version. I get it from the alcohol free shop online (alcoholfree.co.uk). Not too sweet at all. For some people, it might be too much like the real thing though. But I find it a good drink for special occasions. Annie from A Dappled Path (27 days of Dry Jan so far!) x

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    3. Ooh thanks for the too! I've just been on there to have a look. I will definitely order the prosecco. That might come in handy for when we have a dinner party. The alcohol free beers are great but that would be good to have for a special occasion! Fab news on 27 days! Me too! Keep going! Jacqueline x

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    4. I of course meant tip!

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    5. Try T&E Aromatic Botanicals (Waitrose). And of course Seedlip. My AF beer of choice is Bitburger. Wonder what people think of the whole 'low alcohol' trend. I like Tesco's G&T but it has 0.5% alcohol by volume?

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    6. Thanks all, I'll try the Pearl.. re the 0.5% I'm a bit nervous of trying them, in case they make me want more!

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    7. I think some of the 0% alcohol free beers I have contain 0.5%. They say they are alcohol free but on the bottle it states somewhere 0.5%. I'm not sure if this is for all of them. I googled it and it's no more than what you would have in a fruit that's gone very ripe! I read somewhere that you'd have to drink at least 10 alcohol free beers (very quickly) to reach 1 unit. I think a small glass of wine contains 2 or 3 so it gives a good idea (I'm not sure how accurate this is). I have Becks Blue or Heineken and have never had any taste or feeling that I've had any alcohol but I guess everyone is different. At max, I can only usually manage 3 or 4 and I used to drink wine by the bucketload. I've also had a chardonnay alcohol free wine and that had 0.5% on the small print. Again I didnt feel any effects of alcohol. Hope this helps. Jacqueline

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    8. I think the percentage for all-free beers is generally 0.05% and not 0.5%

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    9. Going to bed early is always a great strategy! And AF drinks really helped me too! There’s a great website called DryDrinker where they do a fab AF Prosecco as well as loads of AF beers etc. Big hugs xxx

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  22. Day 3 sober. All the books and blogs I am reading are so helpful- just knowing that I am not alone with how I feel and the stupid things I have done when I have been drunk makes me feel stronger. I read that the brain likes definite decisions- so telling the wine witch to fuck off straightaway rather than entering into a should I/ shouldn't I debate was an eye-opener for me. Small steps - even 5 minutes at a time - is my way of thinking at the moment. I am giving myself small treats at the end of each sober day and planning these treats is quite exciting as well!

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    1. Well done Sweetie! Whoop whoop! Xxx

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  23. I've got a new mantra that some might like to share. In testing moments, I say to myself #whatwouldclarepooleydo?
    I'm also blogging about how I get through this https://whenthewinestopsflowing.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Ha ha! Thanks Chris! Will check out your blog ❤️

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  24. I drank today. I don’t know why. Need some moral support

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    1. Oh mate - so sorry - searching sober here - 14 days in so no expert - your not alone in this - just start again today - its not the end just a slip up - drinks is not our friend - pack it’s bags and send it packing - but please don’t beat yourself up - the wine witch has tricked you - tell her to bugger off - email Claire - she’ll know what to do - these blogs have really helped me - just keep reading and message - I’ll keep my eye open for you - send me your blog or a nick name so I know you xxxxxxx

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    2. Searching Sober is right! Don’t beat yourself up, just learn from it. Remember how it makes you feel (pretty awful and miserable, right?) and try to work out what the trigger was so you can avoid it next time. See it as a learning opportunity, then forget about it and move on! Remember though that for the next few days the wine witch will get louder and louder - the only way to shut her up is to NOT DRINK! Huge hugs to you ❤️❤️❤️

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    3. Thinking of you, don't be too hard on yourself. Brush yourself off and start again. As someone said in a blog I read today, it's never too late!

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  25. Day 11 booze free. Survived Leaving do/posh restaurant private room.Loved Clare's book, not so much Jason Vale's book - he's right it's not greatly written, but passionate and net worthwhile. Finding I'm putting on weight, yikes. A positive view would be more muscle from more running. Or alternatively, at age 53 maybe can't get away with quite so many cakes as you could Clare, and now wondering about carb addiction :) Will keep going though, as I know it's the right thing to do. Thanks for the inspiration and nudge to get to action.

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  26. In the old days... I used to do lent, or around the same time of year sign up for a 5K swim. So for 4 - 6 weeks I'd show everyone that I wasn't the boozy problem drinker they thought. Look at me with my soda and lime and hitting the pool for regularly. But in my mind I knew there'd be a bender at the end of it and I could get back to my drinking.

    As the years went on though it became that I'd tell people I wasn't drinking but secretly I'd be sneaking off on my own to new dives to drink in. Then... eventually I gave up the pretence and also the fact that I struggled physically to not drink by then for more than 24 hours at a time.

    If only I'd recognised all this at the time - well more consciously - and that I'd actually stopped like you suggest here... might have saved me a whole heap of pain. Especially when I did decide I had to stop and found fundamentally I couldn't

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  27. "The real benefits of being sober take weeks, months and some take years to really emerge. You've seen nothing yet."

    Nice!! For me it came in waves - 6 weeks, 3 months, 5 months 8 months etc
    M xxxxx

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  28. Did you see this Dry January book list? https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/Blog/2018s-best-books-about-not-drinking

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  29. I have found dry January okay because I haven't been out in any social situations yet. I am trying to continue into February but I have 3 evenings out and I am trying to think of alternative drinks to have. I don't really want fizzy drinks as also trying to lose all the weight I put on when drinking too much wine! Any suggestions?
    I have also been cooking more interesting food as I seem to have more time now I'm not drinking. The only downside is I have had to buy a bottle of wine for a recipe and an open bottle is a big temptation. So I have decided to take the wine to my best friends house and only take some when I need it for cooking.

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    1. Hi I drink sparkling water when out. I like the taste and with ice and lemon it looks like a g & t so people don't question why you're not drinking. Plus whenever I can I drive. For cooking i found some places sell small one glass size bottles of wine. I get one of those and tip the whole lot in.

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