End of Sober October!

Today marks the end of 4 weeks lasting through October without consuming any alcohol; the longest booze-free stretch of time since 1995 when I was pregnant with my daughter Zoe!

The most difficult thing has been the lack of variety of non-alcoholic drinks; basically the choices are: water, juices, tea, coffee and a very limited choice of non alcoholic beer or wine. I’ve acquired quite a taste for Fentimans ginger beer however!

Health-wise I don’t feel much different; maybe slightly more focussed and switched on? I haven’t lost any weight, firstly because I don’t want to and secondly because many non-alcoholic drinks contain as many calories as those with alcohol. Hopefully however my liver is now nicely detoxed which has made me conscious to take better care of it in the future.

Socially has been the most difficult time. Last week a few of my colleagues went out after work for my friend Teresa’s 50th birthday drinks and while they were enjoying the usual wines, beers and gins, I had a pot of tea…

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Time for tea!

 

 

 

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Week 43 walking update

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Wimpole Estate near Cambridge

Running total (to week 42): 1,762

Miles walked in week 43: 46

Total walked so far in 2018: 1,808

I had two days during this week where I did no extra walking at all… On Thursday I was working at home and just too busy with full-on back-to-back Skype meetings that I didn’t even have time for a lunch break, let alone a 4 mile lunchtime walk.

On Saturday, Chris and I had planned a 6 mile walk to a local pub for lunch and back but unfortunately his elderly father was taken into hospital so we abandoned this, drove to Norfolk, picked up his Mum and took her into visit him in hospital! Hopefully he will soon start to feel better.

Today in lovely sunny (but cold and crisp) weather I did a walk with a local walking group which focussed around the Wimpole Estate which is not far from Cambridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volunteer beach clean

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Last weekend I fulfilled another of my challenges and Chris and I spent Sunday morning walking up and down Gorleston Beach picking up litter! Gorleston-on-Sea is a Norfolk town between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft on the East Coast of England. The weather was awesome and a perfect 20 degrees which is unusual for mid October.

I’m keen that this is more than just a ‘tick box’ exercise, that is something to make me feel good just to tick off my list. Since our travels in 2016 and witnessing first hand the plastic pollution in beautiful locations around the world, I have felt passionate about the need to reduce plastic waste and do my bit to look after the environment.

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I signed up with the Marine Conservation Society and together with over 100 volunteers we scoured the beach and collected every piece of litter we could find. We were told to focus on the small pieces of litter as much as or if not more so that the bigger pieces. Tiny pieces of plastic are mistaken for food by marine life.

We found all manner of litter, most of which was plastic. Sometimes it was buried in the sand and difficult to spot. We found a lot of chocolate wrappers, plastic straws and plastic bags. One of the seafront cafes serves hot drinks and provides a small red plastic wrapped biscuit on the saucer. Needless to say, around this area of the beach we found several tiny ‘edges’ where people had unwrapped their biscuit and dropped the corner, or allowed it to be swept away by the wind.

I’ve since sent a message to ask the cafe to consider serving unwrapped complimentary biscuits!

I really enjoyed the beach clean and would far rather do this than sit on the beach and read a book. We’re going to look for more beach cleans and opportunities for something similar.

 

 

 

Week 42 walking update

Running total (to week 41): 1,711

Miles walked in week 42: 51

Total walked so far in 2018: 1,762

Bit of a mixed walking week:

  • Monday: walking to and from London stations getting to work and gym
  • Tuesday: walking around Birmingham City Centre attending a meeting
  • Wednesday: (as Monday)
  • Thursday: walking to and from our local retail park
  • Friday: walking to and from our local large Sainsburys
  • Saturday: 12 mile autumn walk with local walking group
  • Sunday: walking up and down Gorleston Beach (Norfolk) doing a beach clean!

 

 

 

October book review(s)

Book number 17

Book read: Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys

A short but HUGELY inspiring book which has given me loads of ideas for my own adventures! Alastair is enthusiastic and he explains how, with an example of a £1000 budget, you can set about planning all kinds of exciting trips! As I was reading this book I started to jot down some ideas:

  • Drive across Australia
  • Drive across Canada
  • Drive around Europe
  • Travel by land and sea from London to Sydney
  • Travel across Madagascar independently by train
  • Climb Kilimanjaro
  • Trek the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal
  • Cycle Eurovelo routes
  • Cycle and wild camp around Iceland
  • Drive the Wild Atlantic Way (Ireland)
  • Walk the length of New Zealand
  • Walk to Rome
  • South West Coast path
  • UK Coast to Coast
  • Pembrokeshire Coast
  • Bibbulman track (Western Australia)
  • Routeburn track (New Zealand)
  • Dolomites trek

(Some of these are not new ideas but I thought I would capture them in any case)

 

Book number 18

Book read: Walk Sleep Repeat by Stephen Reynolds

This book was somewhat tame by comparison but still an enjoyable read. Once I got into it… I started to become a bit irritated by “Dear Reader” references on almost every page but I got used to this as being the author’s writing style. Although when he started waffling on about which flavour Weetabix drink to have in the morning I did start to question why I was reading the book…

Whereas the likes of Alastair Humphreys and Chris Pountney fill a book with a 12 month plus cycling adventure, this was an entire book about a one week trek along the 100 mile West Highland Way.

However as I continued to read I found I really like the way Stephen Reynolds writes. He has a lovely descriptive manner that makes you feel you are walking the West Highland Way right next to him. Which is nice.

He is really likeable and I started to think of him as a mate, an honest, down-to-Earth kind of chap, someone you would like to sit in a pub with at the end of a busy day and exchange stories.

And on a positive note, if he can string out a book from a week of walking, a popular walk that many thousands have done in the past, I’m sure there would be a market for my 2016 adventures!

  • Walk the West Highland Way (just adding another adventure…)

 

 

Sober October… half way point

Exactly two weeks into my four week teetotal challenge! And it has been a challenge this week… firstly being away for work in Liverpool and visiting the Spanish tapas bar which does the best ever Margaritas… drinking ginger flavoured Elderflower Presse doesn’t quite cut it…

Secondly being away on a walking weekend in Suffolk where everyone was drinking alcohol… I felt better when I had my non-alcohol ginger beer served with ice in a large goldfish bowl glass instead of a boring straight glass… at least I could pretend there was a shot of gin in there too…

On a positive note I slept far better in Liverpool than on the previous two occasions (in August and September). And I didn’t have to do the Sunday walk with a hangover!

I’m hoping that as I’ve reached 2 weeks without alcohol, my liver is starting to detox itself and get rid of any fatty things…

 

 

Week 41 walking update

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Long Melford

Running total (to week 40): 1,663

Miles walked in week 41: 48

Total walked so far in 2018: 1,711

Yesterday I returned from a weekend in Suffolk where I did a 12 mile circular hike around the historic Mediaeval town of Lavenham on Saturday and a 6 mile circular hike around Long Melford on Sunday.

Saturday’s weather was amazing for mid October with warm sunny temperatures of around 23 degrees. This changed literally overnight with Sunday being more typically rainy!

Both walks were rounded off in quaint little tea shops 🙂

 

 

Sober October: one week down…

The first totally alcohol free week I’ve had in months, since early January in fact when I did a detox week!

It seems that many middle aged adults, me included, drink alcohol as part of their lifestyle. I am in a habit of opening a bottle of wine while cooking, drinking wine while out for a meal and generally drinking whenever the opportunity arises.

Last week coincided with our first ‘organic veg box’ delivery which encouraged Chris and me to cook more at home and cook more healthily. This would usually have been the ideal time for a bottle of wine!

On Friday evening we complemented our dinner with a bottle of alcohol free wine, which was actually quite tasty. Then on Saturday we discovered ‘alcohol free gin and tonic’ from M & S! Freshly chilled this was actually really tasty and gave us that drinking experience of having something a bit special with our dinner but without the alcohol.

Public Health England and Drink Aware recently launched a campaign called ‘Drink Free Days‘ to help people to reduce their alcohol intake. This will most likely be my approach once Sober October has finished where I’ll aim for 3 alcohol free days a week 🙂 Lets see how things go…

 

 

 

Week 40 walking update

Running total (to week 39): 1,614

Miles walked in week 40: 49

Total walked so far in 2018: 1,663

I’ve done no ‘special’ walks this week… no walking clubs and no mini adventures. All 49 miles walked in week 40 have resulted from: walking around my local town; walking to and from work; walking between London offices and walking to and from the station. So nothing exciting but an average of 7 miles a day fitted into my everyday working life.

 

 

 

Organic fruit and veg box

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Our first organic fruit and veg box arrived yesterday and I was delighted that, other than the pack of salad leaves, there were no plastic bags in sight! The grapes were in a cardboard container and the rest was loose in the box (which we can return to the driver next week).

At £18.75 this isn’t a cheap option however from what we’ve tried so far the fruit tastes delicious and being organic it has to be healthier! We’ve already planned some creative meals to ensure we don’t waste any of this fruit or veg. This may even result in a more cost effective option if we plan our meals properly and stay at home and cook more often rather going out for something to eat several times a week.

While shopping for the extra ingredients for these planned healthy meals, today I made a conscious point of reducing plastic for example by buying black olives, tomato puree, herbs and spices in glass jars rather than plastic containers 🙂

On another note, Chris ordered a bar of shampoo for us to try rather than using plastic bottles.

Go us! We’re on a roll….