Mind the gap



A lovely lady posted pictures of vintage blankets she is collecting on her Facebook page and this  reminded me of the benefits of having projects on the go at night to stop the feelings of boredom and loneliness that lead to many of us wanting to go back to drinking.


It is absolutely crucial to have something planned to fill in the gap in time, often at night, that opens up when drinking alcohol is no longer a vald lifestyle option.


I am knitting squares at the moment to make what I think of as a sober blanket – in the winter it will keep me warm and each square will remind me of the hours, days, weeks, months and then years I am sober. The warmth and cuddliness of the blanket will be a sources of pleasure, just like being sober. I love knitting and of course knitting one square after another in front of the telly might not be everyone’s cuppa, but it helps me keep the ‘bad’ thoughts at bay. What are you doing in the evenings to fill the gap? Do you have a cunning plan?


cunning plan

Navigating Nights Out – Part 1

Good evening!  I’m going to have to start writing at a more respectable hour of the day as I’m tired and know that I should be preparing for bed, but what the hell.  Why not?  And by the time I’ve finished, I’m sure I’ll be wide awake again!

I’ve called this ‘Part 1’ because I get a feeling there may be more to report on in the future!

I went out last Saturday to try a new place in town that has been taken over by a couple of creative people who will be using the space to show artwork, hold events of different natures, promote creative iniatives etc.  On this particular night they were hosting Guerilla Eats – an array of different street food sellers who would be able to sell from there for around two weeks.

We all met at a different bar and when I got there a few had already turned up and as it happened my friend and two others had been drinking since 1pm and even been home for a nap in the meantime!  Once everyone had arrived we had a drink (cranberry for me) and made our way to The Wonder Inn for some of the marvellous food on offer.  I had a double beef burger with cheese, which might not sound exciting, but it was awesome and perhaps one of the best burgers I have EVER had.  To wash it down I had a San Pellegrino lemonade.  There wasn’t much of a bar going on here and for the ‘drinkers’ there were a few speciality beers and ales, so I was surprised they even had San Pellegrino as a soft option! (They are nice, too nice, but full of sugar.) Two drinks later, the general consensus was to move to another bar – fair enough.

Now, I had been thinking about this night out for a while.  I have been out since becoming sober, to a number of things in actual fact, and haven’t overthought the issues of everyone else having a drink.  For some reason this night was different.  Perhaps it was because it was a Saturday night? I don’t know, perhaps I had a sixth sense that it would be different, you know? A bit more ‘full on’.

Anyway,  having thought about it for so long and knowing that there was nothing different about my mindset – I knew things would be fine.  Strange, but fine.

So, here I am in the middle of ‘The Alchemist’ in the Northern Quarter of Manchester on a Saturday night.  Everyone is drunk.  Everyone.  With each round of drinks – bourbon cocktail, gin cocktail, bottles of beer, pints of lager – I have a mocktail.  And as the first one is passed over the bar, all of my friends slur, ‘Woooooow, that looks amaaaaaaaaazing’.  Too pineapple-y, actually, but thanks! (They lost interest by the time I got to my favourite – an apple mojito!)  Half an hour in and a friend of a friend, and the bar manager, decided to get a round of tequila shots.  He puts one in front of everyone including me and as my hand was half-raised to say, thanks but I don’t drink, my friend launched herself at me and locked me within her arms and shouted ‘Nooooooo – she can’t! I’ll protect yooooou…..’

I was in stitches and the shot was given to a deserving member of bar staff.  A lot of the group were giving me funny so I said that yes, not drinking includes not drinking tequila shots!  I get the feeling that they felt sorry for me, like I was really losing out. I much preferred sambuca shots to be honest – never was much of a fan of tequila 🙂

Prior to this display of love and ‘protection’ by my friend Hannah, I was asked by one of the guys why wasn’t I drinking.  I haven’t really been asked this so directly before and I said I gave up just before New Year’s Eve and have been sober since then.  To which he replied, ‘But when are you going to start drinking again?’

‘Well, I haven’t thought about starting again.  All being well, I won’t.  I feel a lot better and can survive without it.’

‘But wouldn’t you rather have a drink now? We’re all drinking…’

‘Oh my goodness, even if I chose to tonight, I can’t.  I’m on medication.’

‘When do you take your medication?’


‘What time of day?’

‘Err, in the morning.’

‘Well, you should be alright now then?’

‘No, it’s medication to deter me from drinking.  I take it every day.  I can’t have a drink because if I had alcohol now I would be very ill – vomitting, pounding headache, racing heart rate…I would probably have to go to hospital.’

‘Can you sick it up?  Not take one in the morning? It would be worth it, wouldn’t it?  You could drink more to numb the pain?’

OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!!!! Who is the fucking alcoholic here?  I’ve probably explained LESS to Hannah who wanted to ‘protect me’ from tequila shots (bless her) than I have to this dickhead who now knows I am taking medication for alcoholism and he is trying to tempt me to have a drink.  Fucking idiot.  Fucking ignorant, uneducated, dumbass fucking twat.  And he’s a teacher!  FUCK ME!!!!!

I was talking to the bar manager at one point a bit later and we were laughing about the shot incident where Hannah and I nearly ended up falling on the floor, legs akimbo.  As I was bemoaning the downside of mocktails being too sweet a lot of the time, I said, ‘I expect I am your least favourite type of customer, not drinking alcohol and moaning about the non-alcoholic drinks!!’  He looked completely affronted and said that the most important thing to him is making the customers happy and if they want a drink without alcohol, then the job of the bar staff is to make me a drink without alcohol.  And if I find that too sweet, tell them and the next one will be tweaked to make it better for me!  He was a charming, lovely man (also drunk as he was off-duty) and made me feel quite special amongst the mayhem of merry punters.

So, the night carried on.  I danced my little socks off, declined a dance with the arsehole teacher which made me feel better (!) and I didn’t get home until 3.30am!  Dirty stop out.

I suppose that there are always going to be people that can’t accept that some people choose not to drink, whether they know the reason for that choice or not.  And there will always be those people that just accept a person’s decision without question.  And we sober superstars must accept that.  I have no desire to talk to an idiot, arsehole, thoughtless dickhead, let alone try to change them and the way they think.  I really do think that some people are truly, truly dumb.  Others are jealous and may try to force you into having a drink because they can’t do it and don’t want to see you succeed.

Don’t give your time and energy to people who don’t want you to succeed, please.  Don’t ever feel like you have to explain yourself to anyone about the reasons you choose not to drink alcohol.  If someone asks a legitimate question, sure, answer it.  They might be asking because they want to do the same and want your opinion.  They might genuinely care and want to understand so that they can offer you support.  Hannah nearly crushed me with her arms and almost knocked me off my chair because she cares and didn’t want me to be subjected to the temptation.  Given, it wasn’t exactly discrete, but no-one else said a word after that! (And neither of us ever really ‘do’ discrete anyway.)

Nights out – they are a minefield for us for all sorts of reasons – but I can’t wait for the next one!

I’m off to make a hot milk as I’m not so sleepy anymore 😉

Toodle-oo for now xx

Back down

Hey there – a warning to any reader: I am feeling very low today so won’t be a happy blog!

So I suffer from depression and have done for about 10 years.  I take medication, although I’m not entirely sure of its efficacy.  I am up and down like a tart’s knickers.  I have been ok for a while and today, I just want to lie in bed, watching rubbish on TV and trawling through similar rubbish on the web.  I have just eaten three two-finger KitKats in succession because I can’t be arsed to go for anything outside of my bedroom.  I haven’t had, nor do I want, contact with anyone.  I have replied to a message out of necessity and politeness, but other than that –  nothing.

I went to a talk last night about the Law of Attraction and my behaviour today would have them all in paroxysms of disgust.  I downloaded a type of gratitude diary and filled in some of that.  I chatted about the positive things that have happened to me recently – which made for a short discussion!  I listened to tips on how to apply the Law of Attraction.  I listened to a room full of people declare that ‘it really works’, as if trying to convince themselves more than anyone else.

I get it… but I’m not entirely sure about it.

Anyway, you’d think that all that positivity would have rubbed off a little bit? But no – between the time I fell asleep with thoughts of all I could have swathing through my brain to the time I woke up – some heavy weight decided to take up residence and screw me down.

As quickly as that and with no warning.  With no reason.

So, I can just see the lucky side of being sober in this situation.  I need to remember the necessity of being sober in this situation.  I’m depressed, yes.  But I’m not taking an overdose and being kept in hospital because my heart rate is that of someone about to die of a heart attack.  I can’t face the thought of going outside, of having to engage with anyone –  nope.  But at least I won’t be wandering the streets at all hours of the morning on my own, getting into fights – and not remembering any of it.  I want to be alone – yes indeed! But I have commitments this weekend and I will make sure I fulfil them, rather than get so wildly drunk and not give a shit who I let down or who I upset.  That’s the difference.

Sobriety doesn’t cure all – but it enables me to stay safe, stay alive and be trusted again.

And it’s Mothering Sunday this weekend!  I have daughterly duties to undertake!  My mum told me how proud of me she is last night on the phone and I still feel like shit.


The worst thing about depression is not knowing why you are depressed.  Not being able to put into words the reason you feel so dark and low and worthless and insignificant.  But at least I can say why it’s better without alcohol (on Day 74!)  I can clutch onto that tiny positive for now.

Happy weekend to you all and stay sober and safe :-/


I do run a bit

by Jessie
I do run a bit …… I am currently training for my 6th marathon and running between 55 and 70 miles a week. But I really want to tell you that I started from almost nothing 7 years ago. I had run the Great North Run in 1984 in 2 hours 8 minutes then marriage , children and life got in the way for over 22 years and I started again when my wonderful Mum finally went into full time care shortly before her death. I felt so impotent and as a way of repaying the Alzheimers Society for all the help and support we received as a family I started to run to raise money and instead of crying.

It has changed my life. Here I am a 53 year old Nana only getting faster at the moment!! My running has had a huge boost since I embraced sobriety and I am able to fully commit to my training and I push myself much harder. But I truly could not run round the block 7 years ago and those people in their lycra tights and running vests were terrifying!!

It is hard at first … I started in the June and it felt tortuous for weeks…only the thought of my Mum kept me going. I was determined to raise money for research in the hope that my future can be different to the one she had. I never intended to keep going after the Great North Run that October but somewhere along that road something clicked and I have truly never looked back.

It has saved me in so many ways. For a long time it helped keep a lid on my drinking, but it gave me both physical and emotional strength. My BP and resting heart rate are phenomenally low, my BMI and weight have reduced. I have faced demons and dealt with them and running through emotional pain has been a godsend.

Last year I ran a half marathon in 1 hour 39 …. 29 minutes faster than I was 30 years ago! So don’t think you can’t ..think you will!

If you can find a charity that is very close to your heart it really helps to focus on the training when you can’t face a run.

If I can help, share bits of my journey, run with you ….then let me know! If running makes you even half as happy as it has made me every investment in time and pain will be worthwhile.

There will of course be Swans who for a range of reasons are unable to choose running ….. But find something and make it yours. Exercise is a life changer.

Finally you might find something else …. ! I met my husband at a race in my second year of running and we got married last August! He is faster than me but can’t go as far!

Now I only look back to see how far I have come.

Happy running ….. And don’t forget Swans have strong legs!! Xxx

  • Hippydippy66 says: Jessie has really inspired me to get out there – Binki, I forsee the London Marathon next year, what do you think lol x

Fluff says:  well, have dusted off my trainers .. it is my cygnet’s birthday today and I am doing a dinner tonight – lunchtime run for this swannette xxxx

  • Sue says:
set myself up for a Race for Life 10k in July so starting to get nervous now but working to plan in the gym! xx

Bonkers101 says:

  •   Have you tried the www.myasics.com site? You can get a plan specific to your personal requirements which will help work towards your goal xx

    MY ASICS helps you achieve your running goals. Create a custom training program for a marathon, half…
Paulita says:

Swooshing swans, i’m going to join you but I will start by walking fast, OK? And i might break into a run when the weather gets better. I don’t have much time during the day so I plan to walk at lunchtimes. And in summer, i can go out in the evening for a little trot perhaps…I did a fast walk at lunchtime yesterday. it was fabulous. I pulled on an old pair of walking boots ‘cos the path is muddy. And off i went with my phone. Didn’t have shower afterwards so it all fitted nicely into an hour. Can’t believe what a difference it made to a busy day. Great

 Cat says:

Going to start running at the gym to begin with & see how I get on………..🏃🏃🏃🏃

 Amanda says:

Ok I’m gonna do it too but only if I can wear this tee shirt… xxx

"Ok I'm gonna do it too but only if I can wear this tee shirt... xxx"

Bradley Cooper – sober and gorgeous

bradley cooper


Bradley Cooper and Suki Waterhouse are giving up partying and alcohol together in order to fight the addiction that almost consumed the actor’s life.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, Cooper and Waterhouse officially came out as a couple at the SAG Awards. The couple has been dating since last year and even though the media has reported supposed problems in their relationship they are apparently very happy together.

At one point in his life Bradley Cooper was contemplating suicide while working the set of Alias around 10 years ago:

“If I continued it, I was really going to sabotage my whole life…. I would only work three days a week. And then for the second season, I got even more sidelined. I was like, ‘Ugh.’ And then next thing you know, I was like, “I want to f***ing kill myself.”

Ironically enough, after his recovery from drugs and alcohol abuse he became renowned as Phil Wenneck in The Hangover movie series. But just because Cooper’s characters are getting wasted doesn’t mean he’s imbibing himself. While his new girlfriend Suki has a reputation for wild partying to rival that movie, Waterhouse is apparently willing to give up wild nights for love according sources close to the 22-year-old:

“Suki isn’t drinking any more. She hasn’t made it into a massive issue, but she’s spending a lot more time with Bradley and his family and drinking isn’t something that goes on. She and Bradley are pretty serious and they’re enjoying being together. Drinking isn’t something that comes up.”



Sharing some happiness!

This is a diary entry from the 7th of November 2014, I’ve loved re reading this one!

It’s been 74 days since I last had a drink! I feel bloody amazing. I’m so happy I could hug everyone I meet.

If you are trying to talk yourself in or out of doing this, please just give it a go.

You have nothing to lose but the hangovers, feelings of self hatred, anxiety, bloated face, irritation, self loathing, guilt, shame, liver damage, weight gain, insecurities, depression the list could go on. I had every single one of these plus another ten or more. Why? Why? Why?

I have let go of so much over the last 74 day, perfectionism, workaholism, being a martyr, people pleasing and more.

What seemed like insurmountable problems in my life are merely the day to day ups and downs of life. Instead of having huge highs and many despairing lows, I now feel on an even keel…but with a buzz in my head that tells me I can do anything!

My marriage has improved, my relationship with my children is wonderful, I’m so much more productive in my business and we have already seen sales grow! I have even started making jewellery, something I have wanted to do for years and have already sold some pieces!!

I still have another addiction to beat, but I know I can do it! I’m full of hope and excitement for the future.

If you are thinking to yourself that I’m making it sound too easy…well, I do think it can be if you can get in the right frame of mind. I have been drinking in a damaging way since I was 13, I will be 40 next year. There came a point where the excuses were just getting silly. I knew what I had to do…I had to not pick up that drink, do what you need to do… talk, run, bake, shower, bath, walk the dog, dance, read, eat, clean, do a class…anything!!! It does get easier I promise and life is so much easier without the alcohol.

This is a quote I read that I love…

‘To sober up seems to many like making life “so serious,” as if seriousness precluded joy, warmth, spontaneity and fun. But there can be a delusional, blind quality to non-sober festivities. To have our eyes open soberly with all our senses and memory intact allows some of the most rewarding, soul-nourishing, and long-lasting pleasures possible.’

Wonderful Kristen Johnston – sober and happy




Kristen Johnston, the towering comedic actress best known for her role on “3rd Rock from the Sun,” may bring the laughs on TV Land’s “The Exes,” but in reality, the star has been battling some serious personal issues.

Johnston recently penned a powerfully honest memoir, “Guts,” in which she writes about her miserable school years, her rise to fame and, most stunningly, her addictions to drugs and alcohol.

The actress, 44, who has been working to establish the first sober high school in New York City, chatted with The Huffington Post about her new book and overcoming her serious struggles.

In “Guts,” you write about suffering a terrifying medical scare. What happened?
Five years ago I ended up — due to naughty living — with a gastric ulcer that I wasn’t aware of and it burst and I became septic, meaning I filled up with stomach stuff in my armpit. I was in the hospital for two months. That’s the short story; for the rest you’ve got to buy the book. Basically, the event is used to help tell my story of addiction.

The pain sounds as if it was unbearable.
It was. I’ve never even experienced pain like that. Trying to describe it in words was so challenging because I also wanted it to be me, which is funny. I have a lot of self-deprecation; I’m not a pitying person. It was also a very lonely process to write about that because it was so dark.

You’re an alcoholic.
Yes, and a drug addict.

How long was your addiction really serious?
I would say it was bad for six years, but really bad the last three. The thing that’s so complicated about addiction, which I hope I addressed [in the book], is that the nightmare is your friends and loved ones are behind door number one and your drug is behind door number two, and you will always choose door two. It’s not personal; it’s because you’re in prison. You can’t help it.

It was a slow, slow process. I call [my addiction] “Mr. Morphine” because it was like a toxic relationship. We dated for a week and then we broke up for six months, and then we’d date for another two weeks. It was like that until basically six years ago, when I was like, “Oh, alright, move in.”

There are so many different types of addiction and people kind of separate themselves from us; I’m not that different from you. I mean, I do have different brain chemistry than you. But I believe that if the right circumstances happen, like your child, God forbid, is harmed and you happen to get a migraine at the exact same time…

You’d drink yourself silly every night.
Exactly. Anyone has the capability for it. But I do believe there are some people that have a greater predilection. I’m the strongest person I’ve ever met; I can will things with my mind, or at least I thought so, and so the fact that I couldn’t navigate this on my own was shocking to me. I’d done everything myself. So I started to believe I could actually control things and the bottom line is I can’t.

That’s hard, that surrender.
I had a lot of shame, and that’s why it took me so long to get help because I did know for a good long while that I was in trouble, but I just kept thinking I would grow out of it. When I didn’t, that’s when I realized, “Oh my God, I’m really really an addict.” I was also embarrassed at the concept of me being an actual cliché — “Oh great, another actress on painkillers.”

The tabloids went nuts when you lost a lot of weight.
I was sober then. That was a really dark time. I was finally on the right path and yes, I did look terrible, I agree. However, I did give a statement where I told the truth. I said that due to late night living, I had a gastric ulcer that burst. I was in hospital for two months, had a large portion of my stomach removed, blah, blah, blah. Ever since then I’ve been sober and yes, I’m struggling to put on weight, but they would not print any of that.

I couldn’t believe the level of malice directed toward me. I thought once, “God, what if I was anorexic? This would be the worst.” Everybody knows anorexia is a disease that people struggle with and the fact that people were so cruel was shocking to me.

You write that you had a tough time when you were in school, something that many people can relate to.
I really was a loser; I’m not exaggerating. It wasn’t just that my height (6 feet) was wrong. I was very loud. I always said the wrong thing at the exact worst moment. They called me “learning disabled” even though I wasn’t. I had to wear corrective shoes, and everything I wore was totally ill-fitting only because my mother could not keep up with my height. Now I look at pictures of me then and I go, “What a cutie,” but back then I felt like a giant ugly turd. But you know what? It gave me everything I am.

You don’t want to peak in high school. That’s the whole thing and you just don’t know it then. I work with young high school girls at self-esteem workshops, and they are so unhappy. They’re cyberbullying each other; they just torture each other and the bottom line is you don’t want to be a rock star when you’re 12. You want to be a rock star when you’re 23 or whatever, just not 12.