COMING HOME (TO CORNWALL)

On 14th March we drove back to Cornwall from London after deciding not to get on the plane for my planned birthday weekend in Seville. (A wise decision BTW as the flight back was cancelled.)

Since then I’ve been here in Cornwall.  That’s a first for me, as my habit (and work life) has, for the last 16 years, meant I’ve been in London for 2 days most weeks. Being here, at home, has had a profound effect on me and forced me to learn things about myself I didn’t realise………

Firstly I’ve recognised my frequent absences from home have meant I don’t know many people and have a really small circle of friends, so I need to work on not being lonely.  Secondly, my programme of self-imposed travel meant I was always catching up; getting ready to leave, planning meals, trying to get on top of shopping, laundry and cleaning, and as a result, often feeling tired.  Thirdly I’ve discovered my passion for the sea is much stronger than I imagined.  In those Lockdown weeks when we had to stay near our home base I found myself longing to jump in the car for the short, (but banned,) drive to the sea.  It resulted in some truly dark days and when I could finally walk along the cliffs and beaches, a profound joy.

Back at the end of March I wrote an article for a website on mental well-being  during Lockdown and talked about finding your creative side, reading books, writing, learning a language, painting etc etc.  By mid-April, I realised I wasn’t going to actually do any of those things I’d written about. It was as much as I could do to drag myself out of bed.

…………I thought too I’d write regular blogs, make videos, learn about SEO and growing my following……but that never happened.

Then there was the cooking. Goodness we’ve eaten well! Life and conversation centred on food. What shall we have for lunch? Dinner? Breakfast? Afternoon tea? Which supermarket has a delivery slot? When’s the local fisherman selling his scallops? We’ve been lucky to with a weekly artisan bread delivery from ‘Baker Tom’s’ van, parked in the village pub car park; fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese and meat from the local farm shop and fish from the wholesale fish merchant, whose normal schedule is delivering to restaurants all over Cornwall and as far away as London.  Then there was a point, several weeks ago, when I felt as if I never wanted to cook again. (A friend said it was my own fault as I’d “raised the baton too high to start with”!) ….And thankfully the last few weeks of sunshine and warmth have led to us having an unprecedented number of barbecues, which requires (at least on my part) a lot less flare.

So, five months later, I’m still here in Cornwall and not going anywhere.

And that brings me to this blog.  I started ‘Behind the Woman’ to talk to women, (and anyone who cares to read my ramblings) about style, beauty, makeup and hair, inspired by the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my career……but I’ve decided to add Cornwall into the mix, so from now on, you’ll see snatches of walks I’ve taken, places I visited, restaurants I’ve eaten in and photos of the places I love.  I guess, it’s about a glimpse of my life, and one I hope you’ll enjoy.

So, after 5 months I’m back! Happy days.

#blog #blogger #cornwall #cornwalllife #cornwallliving #explorecornwall #mylifeincornwall #behindthewoman #lifestyle #lovecornwall #home

What’s Going On? And Other Rambled thoughts…,

When did this start? What am I talking about? What day of the week is it? When did I last wear ‘proper’ shoes or pick up a handbag? What shall I eat tonight/for breakfast tonight/NEXT? What day is tomorrow? ……,

These and other rambled and scrambled thoughts are constantly going through my head at the moment!

I just checked and this is day 11 of the UK’s version of ‘lockdown’ & day 18 of my family’s self-imposed social isolation. I only know this because it was my birthday on March 15th and that was the last time I got anything like dressed-up….Now, that seems like a lifetime away.

I’ve almost forgotten the feeling of hurrying to get ready to go out, ambling around shops or going for a coffee. I’m not looking at the online sites I browse when there’s nothing on Netflix that appeals…. though it has to be said there have been a few Amazon purchases & deliveries, including a bark shredder, and EIGHT bags of Buckwheat…. ordered in error instead of wholemeal strong bread flour! Well it sounds similar doesn’t it? Fortunately Buckwheat makes very good pancakes and with 1/4 wholemeal flour, highly acceptable bread. Phew!!

But let’s face it: LIFE IS WEIRD.

Strangely enough though, there’s a feeling of security- at least for those of us not working on the ‘front-line’. That old saying: “An Englishman’s home is his castle” rings true.

As long as I’m in the 4 walls of my home, I feel safe. Then there’s the silence and the new sounds it brings! Do birds always sing so loudly? Except!!! At certain times there has been a cacophony of chain saws and power-tools… and the distant moan of the power-hose. No wonder the sales of online garden tools are rocketing!

But I’m also all too aware, whilst I’m here in my quiet ‘castle’, not far away people are gasping for their lives and medical staff are working to the point of exhaustion and more. In supermarkets, staff are dealing with a frustrated and often rude public, whilst putting their own health at risk to serve us….

It’s as if there are 2 parallel worlds and we, the ones safely in our homes, will hopefully never have to cross that line into the other chaotic and frightening world.

And everything I read tells me I should be using this time to be creative, learn a new language, keep a diary, de-clutter my wardrobe or read more…. but so far I haven’t had the time -or inclination.

But maybe it doesn’t matter. This is about survival…..,Better go and have a cup of tea and a crumpet whilst I think about being grateful for being here, now.

#staysafe #stayhome

ROOTS! In a panic about your hair colour? ………. IT’S TIME TO #SHOWYOURROOTS

If you usually go to a salon every 6-8 weeks you may well be having an inner-panic at the moment. Now I KNOW in the current scheme of things hair colour is very minor, in fact you may be thinking: ‘who cares as no one’s going anywhere.’  BUT I know personal appearance is very important when it comes to mental health.

‘Beauty is in the of the beholder’ as they say, and let’s face it, most women dress up, get their hair and nails done and put on their makeup primarily for themselves.  However, to every woman who gets her dark or white roots done on a regular basis, I am currently saying one thing: SHOW YOUR ROOTS.

Yep! I know there are a mountain of boxed colours on sale in supermarkets and pharmacies and they should remain open over the next few months even when we’re in ‘lockdown’, but quite frankly, it’s SO easy to F*** up your hair colour when you do it yourself.  And I’m not just talking about going mauve, orange or green, I’m also talking about the condition, but the main thing is, if it goes wrong, you won’t be able to correct it! And it’s a fact: hairdressers make a lot of money from Colour Correction services.

So what can you do? Well firstly, if your hair’s flat or slightly greasy your roots will show more, so make sure you wash it regularly and apply conditioner mainly to the mid-lengths and ends, this will give you more volume at the roots.

If you can’t wash your hair for any reason, then us a dry shampoo to create this root lift.  Hair with volume and texture also hides roots, so think about apply a volumiser to your hair.  Spray evenly from roots to ends and use a medium round brush to blow dry.  You can always get some additional volume by turning your head upside down and blasting your drier to the roots.  Finish your style with hair spray for style longevity. And don’t forget, you can still buy hair products online, so you can maintain #socialdistance and #socialisolation with confidence.    

Here are a few products to try:

Phil Smith Be Gorgeous https://www.philsmithhair.com/big-it-up/

Big It Up Shampoo, Conditioner

Volume Boosting Dry Shampoo

Volume Boosting Mousse

Volume Boosting Spray

Bed Head by TIGI

https://www.feelunique.com/brands/tigi-bed-head/fully-loaded

Fully Loaded Massive Volume Shampoo and Conditioner

Big Head Hair Volume Mousse

Superstar Queen for a Day

Small Talk Styling Cream

Want to achieve a day makeup look in 5 minutes? Here’s how….

NO MAKEUP or NATURAL MAKEUP looks can be as hard to apply as stronger makeup looks such as the every-popular “smoky eye”, but of course, most of the time, you just want to create a better look than the real you, to give your confidence a boost and to feel good about yourself.

Then there’s the problem of time.  Everyone seems to be rushing around these days, so most of the time you want your makeup look to be achieved in minimal time.

My solution to this is to achieve the max results with minimal products.  And, here’s my solution: 5 minutes and 5 products.

  1. Starting off with a good serum foundation, with a protective SPF, I used Bobbie Brown Intensive Serum Foundation Factor 40.  This is easy to apply with finger tips, a brush or a sponge, gives good coverage (enough not to need concealer) and importantly offers your skin protection. 
  2. Next, under my cheekbones I used a soft, biggish brush to apply PÜR Mineral Glow Illuminating Bronzer 8306 with a soft brush.  I also used this in the crease of my eyes.
  3. On my brows I used Rimmel Brow Pro Micro to refine and shape.
  4. I used PÜR Big Look black mascara on my top and bottom lashes….so effective you only need one coat.
  5. On my lips I used Bobbie Brown Crushed Liquid Lip in Hippy Shake and also applied 3 dots to the “apples” of my cheeks, blending with my fingers.
  6. Lastly I applied a dot of PÜR No Filter Primer to my cheekbones, blending upwards and outwards. Then I added another dot to my eye-lids.

This is my ‘go to’ kind of makeup when I haven’t the time or energy to make the effort, but just want to enhance my face and I think you can see from my before and after looks – a bit of effort is definitely worth while!!!

Want to find out more about these brands? Go to:

Bobbie Brown:              www.bobbibrown.co.uk

PÜR Beauty:                 www.lookfantastic.com

Rimmel London:           www.rimmellondon.com

FINDING MY STYLE WITH THE 2020 VERSION OF THE BOB (HAIRCUT)

The ultimate classic haircut, the Bob, is once again bang on trend and I’ve embraced it!

I hadn’t had my hair cut or coloured for 4 months, even managing to go through Christmas and New Year without a visit to a hairdresser, but a few weeks ago, my lack of style got to me.  I think your hair leads your style image.  It doesn’t matter if it’s one length long hair, as long as it’s shiny and healthy. Mine looked “endy” and as I’m lazy when it comes to styling I knew I need the chop!

I toyed with a few styles: a layered mid-length look with a fringe, (very Boho,) a round layered shorter look, a Lob, or a classic one length, bob without a fringe. My lovely friend, TIGI European Session Director, Maria Kovacs, took one look at me and said, “No question! Bob!” So we found a corner in our studio and she cut inches off my hair.  This she did by cutting from a centre parting so I can wear my hair parted on both sides or in the middle, and on the side it gives a slight asymmetric look. She styled it with Bed Head After Party and spritzed with Bed Head Headrush…..And I was instantly revived.  The compliments haven’t stopped coming since.

In wearing a Bob I’m joining an elite group! The Bob has seen a huge trend resurgence led by Hollywood celebs and looks to be the hair cut of 2020.  Straight or waved, ‘Lob’ length or short, the hairstyle of the moment was seen at the 2020 Golden Globes and Oscars on a huge number of stars including Naomi Watts, Greta Gerwig, Zoey Deutch, Reece Witherspoon, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Lucy Boynton.

“The Bob’s timeless!” Maria said, “It’s youthful, chic, and lends itself to many textures. It’s really adaptable too. Anyone can look good wearing the Bob.  One of its enduring aspects is that it instantly gives the wearer a new image, without compromise or the fear of losing too much length.

And look who’s worn a Bob! What about Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra? It’s an historical reference..and it’s Elizabeth Taylor!”

But there’s more to the Bob than being stylish as there are underlying links of this on-trend haircut to historical, political and economic changes …and the on-going rise of ‘girl-power’.  In fact you could say it’s a symbol of emancipation and freedom, not just an enduring trend.

Nowadays the word ‘empowerment’ has become symbolic with women’s rights, but this evolving movement has been bubbling up since the women first won their political and social freedom during the “roaring twenties”. With an increased number in work, for the first time women had financial freedom, so it’s no surprise that during the 1920s both fashion and hair styles demonstrated women’s emancipation.  And, it was during this decade The Bob became widely popular, having first been worn some 10 years earlier by a forward thinking few. It’s even been suggested that perhaps the name ‘Bob” was a reference to the androgyny of the cut itself.

In the early ‘20s The Bob was often ‘Marcel-waved,’ or permed, but in the latter years, the shape became more severe, as famously worn by the Jazz Age icon, actress Louise Brooks.  The characters Brooks’ played were rebellious, seductive and showed sexuality, leading to the Bob to be linked to freedom and sensuality that strongly appealed to young female movie-goers of the era.

During the Swinging 60s, the Bob, along with short hemlines and The Pill, again demonstrated the rebelliousness and freedom of women, perfectly worn by fashion designer Mary Quant and model Twiggy. The Bob was part of a style trend that illustrated the power of ‘youth’, and came with a decade of change in social norms with the emergence of new music genres, drug-taking, sexual freedom, political and student uprisings.

In the early 90s women began to gain real power (or so they thought.) The shiny Bob re-emerged as a trend-led hairstyle. From Posh Spice, aka Victoria Beckham, to Courtney Love and Winona Ryder, women began symbolising a new rebelliousness and a shiny or textured bob was a stamp of their power. And for some, like American Vogue’s Anna Wintour, the Bob has become an enduring style significant with their power and image.

100 years after women first wore the Bob it has re-emerged as a fashion trend. Is this linked to a female empowerment? Women are certainly fighting hard for equal opportunities and equal pay, making their ambitions heard at the highest level. With the ‘Me-Too’ movement they are increasingly standing up for themselves, yet in reality there are still few women in top roles and women are still abused in the work place.  Does the Bob signify success or is its androgyny the appeal to women wanting to make their mark in the world?

Which brings the Bob back to me. This isn’t my first generation Bob. I had a permed, curly bob in the mid-80s, a soft layered bob in the 90s followed by a sharp Lob and full fringe. It’s been a while since I’ve returned to this look, but one thing I can say, in all its variations, it’s made me feel as if I can conquer anything, stand up to anyone and definitely rock it!

#hairstyle #bob #haircut #mylook #mystyle #tigi #bedhead #cut

BE A GODDESS

Have you found your tribe?  Do you have a group of friends with whom you share the ups and downs of your life, as soon as they occur; women with whom you can laugh or cry, dance the night away or talk for hours without ever getting bored?

A few years ago I attended a breast cancer charity ball, with a group of women. At a certain point in the evening, and (I should probably add), after several bottles of fizz had been drunk at our table, there was a charity auction, with the usual “prizes” such as signed footballs and celebrity photos, spa days and dining experiences.  ‘Just for fun’ we joined in the procedure, sticking our hands up in the early stages before quickly dropping out. Then a villa holiday in the Cevennes, in the south of France, came up.  One person on our table stuck her hand up and, with her back to the auctioneer, mouthed: “If we ‘win’ we can go on holiday together!” Before we knew it, the hammer went down. We’d “bought” a holiday!

A few weeks later we were at Gatwick Airport with another bottle of fizz in front of us, (you might find a pattern here,) awaiting a flight to Montpelier.  At this early stage, roles quickly emerged. One person had immediately taken upon herself to organize flights and car hire.  On arrival in France, another, who had lived in the US and was therefore more experienced driving on the right, championed herself as driver. Another became map-reader and tour guide.  A couple of hours later we arrived at our (remote) destination in a tiny village with no shop, café or bar. Not even a bakery.  I’d had the foresight to pack enough ingredients to make a pasta dish for dinner so became head chef, as well as finding the villa owner’s wine stash under the stairs…and the other member of the group proved to be the perfect ‘fire-starter’. (It was mid-April and freezing at night in the hills.)

Over the following few days we found easy agreement to a daily schedule with trips around the area and beyond, supermarket visits to buy provisions, (fizz and wine being a priority,) and evenings spent telling stories around the dining table, playing loud music and dancing like no one was watching, (they weren’t really.)

We are actually, all quite different people, doing very different jobs with different characters and in different stages of our lives, but we found a common ground – an ability to feel free and laugh together; that has remained over the ensuing years.  That first Spring-time trip away has been on repeat over the last 7 years, usually in slightly warmer places than the Cevennes, but always with the same sense of closeness and appreciation.

Early on in our group friendship we called ourselves “Goddesses”, partly as a joke, but also as an ‘homage’ to one of the group who had recovered from breast cancer.  Now each December we have a “Goddess Night” to celebrate ourselves as women. We glam up, exchange small gifts, drink fizz and embrace the importance of having found our special tribe.  One year, one of the group bought us all “Goddess” mugs, and every time I drink from mine, I feel thankful and lucky to have found my little tribe.

Over-coming my pedi-fear

What’s the opposite of a foot-fetish I wonder? Because I tell you what, I think I have it!!

I don’t like feet and I don’t like people touching my feet. This is partly because I’ve got ticklish feet and quite frankly, if anyone comes near them, I shudder. Of course, I like my feet to look nice, and my nails painted, but each time I have a pedicure I actually have to mentally prepare myself , so as you can imagine, it’s not a regular beauty ritual in my life, even though, when I take the risk and have one, I’m always delighted with the results. My friends all embrace a pedicure at every opportune moment. Me? I stick with a facial, or a manicure.

It’s easy to injure feet too; dropping things on them so the nails go black and eventually fall off, banging them – goodness they’re easy to break aren’t they, wearing ill-fitting shoes or high, high heels and getting awful blisters, not to mention all the horrible fungal infections feet seem to attract. Urgh!

But that’s not all! I absolutely hate that my second toe is longer than my ‘big toe’. Now I know this isn’t particularly uncommon, but still! When I Googled this ‘unsightly-ness’  it said it is often called a ‘Royal’ or ‘Greek’ toe. Quite attractive I thought. But no!  It’s clearly a freakish thing, the result of the first metatarsal, behind the big toe, being short compared to the second metatarsal, (if you know what I mean. So I’m disfigured too!! )

Of course I want beautiful feet with soft skin and pretty, perfectly painted nails, so I’m determined to start a new regime. This is why I was excited to find a lovely creamy foot-cream, called LOTIL FOOT CREAM.  It’s really nourishing and you get the feeling from the very first use that it’s softening, soothing and moisturising the skin, yet it’s also easily absorbed.  It’s got Aloe Vera and rosemary extract, both known for their healing properties. And I’m obviously very slow to the game, as I Googled LOTIL and found out the company is over 100 years old.

Plus! As my husband is a Type 1 diabetic, I was also interested to see it’s recommended by Diabetes UK as well as by chiropodists, podiatrists and dermatologists.  So now I’ve got him using it too, (which quite frankly is miraculous) and by the time we go off on a little holiday for our anniversary in a few weeks, I’m sure we’ll both have the softest smoothest skin.  Who knows – I might even have a pedicure before I go!

I bought LOTIL FOOT CREAM online from Weldricks Pharmacy and it was on special offer at £4.49 (usual price £5.38) Bargain!

www.lotil.co.uk

http://www.weldricks.co.uk

BIKER BOOTS

And the transition to autumn……

If like me, you’re addicted to fashion reports, (I’m guessing most of you aren’t,) then you might not even consciously think about your “transitional wardrobe”…..Well, in my case it means going straight from flip-flops and white trainers to boots….. Flat, comfortable, clumpy boots. In fact, ‘biker boots’.

My deep-rooted love for this particular style has everything to do with fashion and nothing to do with motor-bikes. In fact, I’ve only ever been on one once. That was in Rome, circa 1976. It was big and red (probably a Ducati I think, though I’m making that up.) I sat on the back -no helmet -and in what seemed like only a few minutes we were down at Ostia on the coast and back in the centre. I was terrified and it took days to get the tangles out of my hair.

Anyway back to boots. The Sunday Times Style (which is one of my fashion bibles) had a whole feature on “The flat pack” last week. So flat, heavy boots are definitely ‘a thing’ this season. They suggested softening the ‘tough factor’ with opaque tights and a floaty pleated skirt – so I’ll definitely be doing that.

This love though goes back. In the early 90s I had some knee length biker boots from Ravel, with lots of buckles and laces. They were a pain to put on, but so comfortable and I had them for years. I used to wear them with some leopard print leggings, (clearly I should have kept them,) and a black blazer (ditto), or I wore them with a mini kilt, black tights and a black polo neck. Fast forward and I had a chunky dark green suede pair with lots of studs and then a black pair which were (fake) fur-lined and became my perfect ski-holiday ‘pares-ski’ boots with skinny jeans.

So this time round I’m going to experiment with the tough/soft look, but I’m also going to wear them with loose jumpers and shirts and jeans tucked in, or cropped black trousers in a softish fabric. (See above for a few style ideas I played with yesterday.)

There are lots of Biker Boot styles around, but mine came from Hotter Shoes. (£89) They offer a great service and even measure your feet to ensure you have the right size and fit, and do you know, mine are exactly the same size as they were when I last had my feet measured….when I left primary school at 11. (I was big for my age and then never grew!)

If you’re thinking of buying some new boots this autumn, then there’s masses of choice everywhere from Marks & Spencer to Zara, Dune, and Kurt Geiger…..and I promise you don’t need a motor bike to look stylish.

Is technology driving you to distraction?

ARE YOU CONSTANTLY CHECKING YOUR PHONE?

Does it buzz with the latest BBC or Sky news when you’re in an important meeting, or flash at you when you’re at dinner or the theatre?

We know Constant Communication creates stress, but how do we stop?

When my mother was 80 she had a massive heart attack. Fortunately, she was revived by the cardiac team at her local hospital, but when I finally arrived at the hospital the consultant said to me: “We had to fight to save your mother, if this happens again what should we do?” My response was: “Is her brain affected? If not, then I suggest you allow her to make the decision.” (In fact she had a “living will”, but I didn’t mention that.) Anyway I am going off-track……..She recovered, but the attack left her with heart failure and over the ensuing years she had heart attacks every couple of months. I became constantly fearful of the phone ringing, and a voice announcing, usually in the early hours of the morning, that she’d had yet another attack. I developed migraines and wouldn’t go anywhere without a fully charged mobile phone. I slept with 2 phones on my bedside table. 12 years later, my mum passed away, after a few weeks of fast-deteriorating health. I had grieved many times over those years and though of course, I was very sad, one thing immediately changed and greatly improved my own well-being: I was no longer fearful of the ringing phone.

……But I am not telling you this story because I want you to feel sorry for me, nor is it about grief; it’s about our reliance on modern technology. Where once a racing pigeon brought news and happy and sad events were shared via “snail-mail” or a telegram, now it’s emails, What’s App, Messenger, Instagram DMs, texts and mobile phones that keep us constantly in the know 24/7. And let’s face it, that’s not all good. I’m not talking about the 7 year old fixated with a games App, or a Gen Z watching Youtube Vloggers, or Millenials constantly looking at ASOS and buying stuff they don’t need, I’m talking about me, (us) – Baby Boomers, for whom digital communication could be managing us and our lives. It’s about checking your teen or twenty-something’s What’s App when they’re late home to see what time they last checked in. (Agreed! This can of course reduce your stress.) It’s about going on holiday and looking weird as you take photos with your I-Pad, or wondering why your ‘bestie’ hasn’t responded to your Message for 3 days, or why the colleague who sits across the office hasn’t replied to your email, (and when she does, she says, “Why didn’t you Skype me?”) Oh, the dilemmas of modern life! And my pet hate: people who walk along the street talking very loudly into their phones and looking as if they are talking to themselves.

 

So come on………Who looks at their mobile phone the second they wake up? (Guilty.) Who takes pictures of the food they cook or eat in restaurants? (Me.) Who get’s stressed when they’ve dressed up for something special and no one will take a quick picture? (Uh! That could be me too.) Who curates their life on IG (OK!) Who gets in a panic if they leave the house and forget their phone? (Confused, but not actually fearful in my case.)

IMG_2282.jpg      IMG_2277

Last week on the last night of my holiday, we were in a restaurant and unusually for me, I was staring at my husband and the wall behind him, instead of the vista of the entire restaurant and the possibility of watching people, but then my husband became fixated not on me, but by a couple on the table behind us. Throughout their meal, the man was playing on his phone whilst the woman sat there, clearly bored. “Obviously married a long time,” was my husband’s theory. Where once people watched television or read a paper (both dreadful habits,) whilst eating, now they play with their phones.

These days there’s so much talk about mindfulness, purpose, living a meaningful life…. I could go on …..but just maybe, the secret to improving our lives is as simple as walking on a beach or through a wood, or even exploring a city, and seeing everything through your own eyes, not filming ourselves and sharing the experience, just listening to the sounds: be it waves, birdsong or the sounds of traffic – and appreciating what you hear. Perhaps it’s about simple conversation for conversation’s sake, listening to someone else, for no reason apart from allowing them to speak, or sitting quietly and reading a proper book with real pages to turn.  ……….All this sounds easy doesn’t it? But would you try it? Shall we give it a go?……….This, by the way, is a lesson to myself.

 

 

 

#communication #iphone #whatsapp #stress #technology #mindfulness #communication #babyboomers #vloggers #millenials

 

SOBRIETY

Ditching the alcohol and being sober by choice.

My father’s family were Welsh Presbyterians who had all “signed the pledge” not to touch alcohol. My aunt and her husband in particular wouldn’t even have alcohol for “medicinal reasons” and when my mother once innocently added a ‘drop of Whisky’ into some hot lemon and honey, when my uncle was ill, all Hell broke loose! Whilst my father wasn’t quite so strict in his beliefs, alcohol just wasn’t on the agenda in our house, although weirdly he made parsley wine to ‘show’ in the Wine Club his office ran. In our sideboard there was a mysterious selection of never drunk bottles: Warnick’s Advocaat, De Kuyper Cherry Brandy and Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. My mum had a bit of a fancy for the latter and would very occasionally have a little glass if she was feeling very daring, but I can’t remember the two of them ever sitting there of an evening with a drink. There were no beers in the fridge and the only time I ever remember having wine, was maybe for someone’s birthday or Christmas, when a bottle of sweet Sauterne would appear at the table, never, I hasten to add to be finished in one sitting!

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Being brought up in such a strict household, (I also had to be home hours earlier then my friends,) you’re going to go one of two ways – be law-abiding or rebel! By the time I was sixteen I was a member of the one and only night-club (for over18s only of course,) in Weymouth, where I lived and my ‘tipple’ was usually Cinzano & Lemonade. I was supposed to get the last bus home, but as that left the town centre at 10.20, I almost never caught it. I’d sneak home around midnight thinking my parents were asleep, but my father’s total silence the next day, assured me I was wrong. (We had a lot of quiet Sundays.)

However until I left home to go to ‘uni’ in London, I never actually got drunk.

Within months I had a rugby-playing boyfriend and was drinking pints! The only time in my life I’ve ever drunk Bitter! Student life of course, can revolve around alcohol –even when you don’t have much spare cash. My friends and flat-mates proved to have a much stronger ability to hold their liquor than me. When it was one friend’s birthday, three of us consumed a bottle of Sweet Martini, one of Dry Martini and a bottle of Reisling, plus a chocolate cake. The next morning they banged on my door, up and ready for breakfast, I’d vomited most of the night and when I woke up the thin mattress on my single, hall of residence bed, was hanging off and there was a bottle of cleanser smashed on the floor. Even worse, was the night before we were to give in our final theses, when four of us, consumed a bottle of cheap Spanish rum. The other three managed to go to hand in their theses, (though apparently smelling like petrol) and one of them took mine. I remained in bed, head spinning and puking all day.

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I have various other tales to tell of equal horror and I’m not proud. A lost day in Amsterdam, after drinking beer and one Bailey’s, (I couldn’t even eat Bailey’s ice-cream for years,) drunk dancing in ski boots in a mountain bar and not remembering how I got back to my hotel, even breaking a bone in my foot in a Portuguese bar on a girly trip (only a few years ago). But when I found out I was pregnant, I gave up drinking, not just for nine months, but three years, apart from a very occasional glass of wine with dinner. My theory was that if my child was ill or had an accident I wanted to be able to drive to A&E. Eventually I gave up worrying and a few glasses of Champagne at a dinner, gave me a hangover to be reckoned with, and resulted in my three year old picking up the phone to her grandmother the next morning and announcing that neither of her parents could come to the phone because they’d got drunk!

In the 90s, like many people in that decade, business was done over long lunches always with wine and I would regularly share a bottle of wine with a beauty editor or advertising manager. Over the years however, I’ve learnt I don’t need alcohol to join in the party. I’ve also mainly lived ‘off the grid’ – always an expensive taxi ride away from nightlife and offering to be the ‘designated driver’ is a good get out clause to keep sober.

And, over the last year or so I’ve found myself drinking less and less. I partly blame Prosecco. I used to travel to Italy a lot and I remember Prosecco as an almost colourless liquid with a clean, beautiful taste, totally unlike the yellowy fizz sold in supermarkets for six or seven quid. Half a bottle and I wake up in a hot sweat with palpitations and the next morning, a raging headache. My daughter’s actually allergic to the stuff and that doesn’t surprise me one bit.

It wasn’t long ago; we’d have a glass of wine or two mid-week and the same at weekends and maybe ‘go out for a drink’. These days I’m more likely to choose a non-alcoholic cocktail or tonic water. Talking of which, let’s mention Gin! I’ve missed out on the whole Gin obsession. I might have one, very occasionally, but I’m unlikely to go through all the flavours on the shelf!

So it seems I’m joining Generation Z, who reportedly drink little or no alcohol, and an increasing number of celebs. Waking up with a clear head is great, having clear skin is a bonus and from a health perspective I feel little or no alcohol is good for me. So as with my eating, I’m definitely a “flexitarian”, with sobriety my choice, and I’m not quite ready to call myself a non-drinker.

So these days, giving up alcohol for Dry January isn’t an issue for me at all. In fact there are really only two issues. Firstly I don’t like many soft drinks. I’ve never favoured fruit juices or Coca-Cola or Sprite, maybe occasionally a Ginger Beer and you can’t drink fizzy water all night. Secondly it’s peer pressure. Friends just don’t like it. But I don’t want to change my friends for a load of tee-totallers……they might end up being like my aunt and uncle and that, I’m sure, would turn me back on the ‘hard stuff’!

 

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