Sober update: yes, still sober!

When I gave up alcohol for the year (at first I stipulated that I could drink when abroad, but then I vetoed that and decided to actually give up completely), I thought that I’d document the journey on here regularly. Giving updates every month at least.

I don’t really know why there’s been the silence on here – why I haven’t written more about the no booze life. It probably would have saved a lot of conversations because I still find myself talking about it, and being questioned about it, a lot – being a 27-year-old non-drinker does make you the object of fascination. Which, in itself, I think says a lot about the society (and its relationship with drinking) we have both carved and inhabit.

I don’t mind talking about it – by the way – the above isn’t a don’t question me! But, I do find it interesting that not drinking is so interesting…if you get me?

Anyway, the last update was in St Lucia – 6 weeks’ sober. Now here we are at the end of August and I’m 8 MONTHS’ SOBER. Over half a year. Not a drop since 11.45pm on the 31st of December 2015. Many people think that my radio silence was because I succumbed to the bottle – but, nope – still sober!

The reasons for giving up are listed on my 1st of January post, so I won’t go over those again. Just scroll down the page (should you be interested). What I’ll discuss now is the journey (why does ‘journey’ always sound pretentious?) and the questions that most people ask.

Has it been really hard?

Honestly, for me, it really hasn’t. I should probably mention that I didn’t give up alcohol due to a dependency or addiction. Mind you, if you are drinking every week/most days, I don’t think you can really say that you aren’t slightly dependent on it until you do try and give up.

If – for instance – I was meeting friends for a drink mid-week, drink would be synonymous with alcohol. I wouldn’t go to the local and order a soda water…we’d order a glass/bottle of wine. I think I always thought I could take it or leave it – but I would always take it- so until giving up, I couldn’t 100% say that I could leave it.

But now I can.

Have you been tempted to drink?

Yes, I have. Not to the brink – but there have been a three times that I have been tempted.

The first was on a family/friends ski trip back in March. And no, I wasn’t gagging for a jaeger bomb at apres ski – in fact, being able to use the year of sobriety (and already being three months in) was a welcome excuse not to drink those revolting concoctions.

It was when the family and our friends were out to supper. My father had brought one of his good friends on the trip, who was a wine buff and consequently ordered some seriously nice wine – so my siblings and friends told me. There was one particular bottle of red on the table that my friend, who was sitting right next to me, was drinking. It smelled incredible. And I’m not going to lie – I would have loved a glass. (I actually had a similar experience of this temptation – where I just wanted one glass – of an Aperol Spritz in Italy, and also a small beer in France).

The second temptation was a different type. For about two weeks at the end of April, due to stress, deadlines, long hours and work taking over my entire life, I wanted to go out and get properly shitfaced. I wanted to go on an absolute bender; to forget about everything for a bit, to escape, to fall into the welcome abyss of drunken incoherence. To drink until I blacked out. Blacked it all out.

I didn’t though, and instead I took up more regular tennis lessons and bashed out the stress on court instead. And, after a couple of weeks, the sensation passed.

In terms of these types of temptations – the getting absolutely shitfaced urges – there are better ways to deal with it. Even though you’re going to get the immediate release, you’re probably not going to feel better in the morning – the stresses will still be there and they’ll just be accompanied by a horrid headache.

The third was after meeting a really nice guy, who – praise the lord – I actually fancied (I swear the older you get, the more difficult it gets to properly fancy someone, the crushes you used to get – those all-consuming emotions – seem to fade away with the years. There’s a depressing aside for you).

Anyway, back in June I clocked said guy at a festival and immediately said to my sister – ‘who is that?’ That kind of initial – yes, that guy is hot. As luck (or perhaps my sister put in a word – I don’t actually know) would have it, later that night said guy – let’s call him X – came over and said…Actually, I’ll move this to dialogue now – it’s probably easier.

X: “Hey, can I get you a drink?”

(Me – in head – ‘Oh my god, it’s the fit guy.’ ‘Oh he’s asking you for a drink, oh say something!’)

Me: No.

X: Oh, ok.

(Me – in head – ‘What the f— are you doing? Do you realise what you’ve just said? How rude that sounds? Save the situation! Save it now!’)

Me: I mean, not because I don’t want one. It’s because well, actually, I don’t drink. Not that I’m an alcoholic or anything don’t worry *awkward laugh* – it’s because I’ve given up for the year. Just you know for work purposes; basically I left my job last year to concentrate on my business – and you know, I decided that I couldn’t afford to be hungover, so gave up. Also, I’d been drinking for about a decade – and well our generation didn’t really get into drinking lightly, it was more ‘let’s neck a bottle of vodka in a field’, so I was quite interested in seeing what the human body could actually feel like without alcohol. So, yeah, that’s why I said no. I’m Alice by the way.

This guy, this poor guy. He’d come over to ask if a girl wanted a drink and instead got a pile of word vomit from a demented loose cannon.

Though he did look slightly bewildered by my lengthy tale – one that he clearly hadn’t banked on – somehow, probably sheer manners, he didn’t turn and run for the hills.

X: Would you like a soft drink? How about a ginger beer?

Me: Oh, yes. That would be nice.

He bought me a ginger beer (a non-alcoholic one) and we chatted for a bit. And then he left. To be fair, I was being quite dull – I’m not saying that not-drinking makes you dull by the way – but it does mean that at around 12.30/1am you do tend to get pretty tired (well, I find I do) because you don’t have all the alcohol sugars giving you that buzz.

Back in my tent, I got really cross with myself (Urgh, if I’d been drinking then I would still be awake, I could have got drunk, we’d probably have kissed. I never fancy anyone and now I’ve just f-ckd it up because I’m too tired because I’m not drinking), and part of me was tempted to go back to the party and get pissed and kiss him.

I seem to have gone off on quite a tangent with that third temptation to drink. Hope you enjoyed that story. I should add, that I turned being pissed off into being proactive, and messaged him the following day – which led to a sober and really rather nice date.

Do people become really boring when they’re drinking and you’re not?

No and yes.

I have a great time with friends up until around 11.30pm (if we’ve started at say 7pm). We’re friends for a reason – because we like similar things, have fun memories – the alcohol doesn’t make us friends. We met sober, became friends sober. Yes, we’ve had great times getting pissed together – but I’m still going to get along with you without booze.

It’s just a group of friends hanging out and talking about entertaining things, reminiscing and sharing anecdotes.

But at about 11.30pm – and this is the ‘yes’ part of the question – people start telling the same anecdotes again and again and again. Or, indeed, if it’s a debate, they start saying the same argument again and again and again. It’s actually quite fascinating how small the time lapses become, too. It’s not one point and then making it again 20 minutes later, it can literally be seconds after finishing it. Sort of like you’re surrounded by a school of Doris (the fish from Finding Nemo – or more recently Finding Dori – with short-term memory problems).

Have people tried to pressure you drink?

Yes. At the start, most people wanted to push me off the wagon. ‘Oh go on, you’ll never do a year.’ ‘Oh, stop being so boring.’ (FYI: being a non-drinker doesn’t mean you’re boring. Also, why is it that so many people want to make you drink? It’s like you’ve rebelled and they want to put you back in line.)

When I hit about three months, though, it stopped. People recognised that I was serious and it was more ‘kudos to you’, ‘wow, that’s impressive’, ‘she means it’.

I don’t think I’ll have people pushing me for the rest of the year, for the remainder of my sober challenge. But, come New Year, I imagine they will be back with vengeance…Which leads neatly on to the last question…

Will you drink again?

At the moment, I’m not sure. It’s 50/50.

The reasons not to drink again:

Life as a non-drinker has treated me well. Apart from ginger beer gate (which I then rectified), I don’t feel like I’ve missed out.

As a non-drinker, you can get so much more done – not having a hangover ever is INCREDIBLE. And I don’t feel like not drinking alcohol affects my personality (even though it does have an effect my sleeping patterns).

The reasons to drink again:

I do really like the taste and warming sensation of a nice glass of red wine.

I also really like the refreshing taste of a cold beer.

I still – annoyingly – see the appeal in getting obliterated from time to time. Even though I know that it’s not going to actually make me feel better in the long term.

Conclusion:

Despite the subhead, I won’t conclude properly today. After all, I still have another four months to go. But I think, if I do drink again – it will be in a different way. I have definitely started to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol and indeed British society’s relationship with alcohol.

I think that it’s a weird thing – how it’s just so ingrained in all of us and also how we use it. We use it for everything.

Alcohol to celebrate. Alcohol to commiserate. Alcohol to relieve. Alcohol to grieve.

It’s odd.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at now. Eight months sober. Four to go.

I’m signing off. Until next time…

 

 

 

 

Sober update from St Lucia

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I stipulated that I could have alcohol when abroad: that my sobriety was limited to the UK.

And so, two weeks ago, when my Virgin flight passed into international waters en route to the Caribbean, I was allowed my first alcoholic drink.

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But, I didn’t.

Why? Because, I didn’t want to.

After one month of the tee-total life, I felt SO much better – internally and externally – and I didn’t want to undo it all. Even if the drinks were complimentary.

So when my sister ordered herself a Bloody Mary, instead I found myself ordering a soda water. Life has become a series of soda waters and do you know what – that’s okay. They are refreshing and taste great, especially with a dash of lime. FRESH LIME. NOT CORDIAL.

The eight hour flight was fine without alcohol. The only thing I missed about it was its sedative quality…what with being sandwiched between two rows of toddlers, who from their mighty and persistent wails were, one imagines, teething.

I had sort of made up my mind on the flight – that I wasn’t just going sober in the UK, but sober full stop – but I resolved to keep my options open. Maybe when I arrived at the hotel – a secluded boutique resort – I would really want a welcome Caribbean cocktail.

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But, yet again, I didn’t. Or rather, I didn’t really want it. I wasn’t gagging for the rum. I didn’t feel that I was missing out by not having the rum. I didn’t need alcohol to enjoy the insane view, or the warmth of the sun on my skin.

It was the following day that I made my final decision. After a morning spent on water trampolines (excellent for sunbathing – though I hear, in my absence, the guidelines have changed and we’re not supposed to do that anymore), I went to the beach bar with my sister. She ordered a pina colada – the very drink that pushed me off the wagon on my last attempt at dry January in 2015 – and I asked in they could do a Daiquiri without the rum. They could! And, dear reader, let me tell you something, I actually preferred it!

There you have it. I am officially still off the booze. I am just over six weeks’ sober. And I am loving it.

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Claudia and Ro-Bag with their Pina Coladas, and me with my Soda (on the bar)

Indeed, yesterday, whilst walking – trekking – up the gros piton in 32 degree heat, I kept finding myself thinking ‘imagine doing this with a hangover’. It would have been horrific. Climbing from sea level to 2,619ft in that humidity and heat, while nursing a hangover. Urgh, just no.

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One of my reasons for giving up was the alcohol stitch you get when exercising. This was the most challenging exercise that I’ve done since going sober, and the difference was remarkable. Not necessarily speed, but how I felt doing it and recovery time, too. Earlier in this post, I mentioned how different I feel internally. I finally feel like my organs are finally clean – they feel good. Externally, my skin is tighter and smoother, my eyes bag-free.

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Oh, and books read so far this month: The Psychopath Test, Bones For You, The Tea Planter’s Wife, The Quality of Silence and A Tap at the Window.

I’ll be back in England when I hit 7 weeks’ sober (next Thursday). I’m flying back on Sunday – I always try to be away or fly on Valentine’s Day, that hateful holiday (last year was Vienna, the year before Cape Town) – and on Monday I shall turn 27. It will be my first sober birthday in…well, years.

Until the next update, then. I do think I’ll try and visit here a bit more often, too. Not just to talk sobriety. The magazine (Blogosphere) is off to press on soon, so maybe there’ll be a couple of restaurant reviews/London based activities I will blog about. Are you gagging with excitement? Didn’t think so.

Anyway, I shall leave you with some more shots from St Lucia and Ti Kaye resort – my home for the last two weeks.

Alice X

 

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Sunset Cruise

 

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Sister sister

Sober update

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If you’ve perused The Audley Chronicle of late, you’ll know that I recently set myself the target of going sober for a year (whilst in the UK).

There were a variety of reasons for the decision (scroll down to the next post should you wish to hear them – well, read them), and as the month has progressed – and I’ve started to experience a sober life – they seem to have become ever the more valid.

Life without alcohol has been eye opening so far. Quite literally, in fact. My eyes, no longer supporting the après booze puff/sag, have become bigger. I haven’t woken up and realised that I didn’t remove my make-up the night before. So there have been no mascara conjunctivitis episodes, either.

That’s just the eyeballs. Let’s move on, because there are many more benefits of life on the wagon that I wish to share with you. The biggest plus I’ve noticed, which I didn’t anticipate feeling, is a sense of relief.

It sounds odd, but it is such a calming feeling knowing that you won’t be hungover. Knowing that you’re not going to wake up and feel unwell in the foreseeable future. On reflection, it does seem quite odd that we voluntarily make ourselves feel ill at least once a week.

And by feeling 100% 100% of the time, you can achieve so much more. So far this January, I have:

  • Formed a partnership with one of the biggest magazine distributors within the UK
  • Been interviewed by MagCulture
  • Found – and moved into – a new office
  • Done the cover interview for issue 8 of Blogosphere
  • Sorted out a cash flow for 2016
  • Done tax return
  • Been approached by newsagent in Amsterdam to stock Blogosphere
  • Put out a job spec for an editorial assistant
  • Got 164 pages of content in for the March issue of Blogosphere (editing starts next week)
  • Attended a press event and secured new advertising contacts
  • Appointed two new editors – and created two new sections – to Blogosphere
  • Worked hard – and effectively – every day
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New office and Blogosphere HQ in Borough

Realised that the two things in life, which make time pass rapidly for me are writing and reading. Writing I’d kind of worked out before, but realising I felt that way about reading was an epiphany. And one that (as you’ll see) I’ve acted upon.

  • Gone on 5 runs
  • Attended 4 yoga sessions
  • Had 1 tennis lesson
  • Played in 1 tennis match
  • Joined a tennis league
  • Read 3 books: Room, Things We Have in Common & Talk Like Ted

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And I have not:

  • Taken any painkillers
  • Embarrassed myself

I also haven’t been a hermit and avoided social situations. I went to a friend’s birthday party in a crypt in Brixton, have been out for numerous suppers, attended my grandfather’s 90th birthday lunch (free-flowing nice wine) and went to a – perhaps the biggest test, or what I thought would be the biggest test – Sunday lunch, which was labelled in its invitation as a ‘boozy affair’ with 54 people.

I was put onto a table with a group of people I’d never met, which though doesn’t push me hideously out of my comfort zone, is a situation in which I’d be accustomed to drinking to help the conversation flow.

It turns out that you don’t really need the booze. It’s not the alcohol that makes the difference; it’s the amount of time you’re sitting there. This is revolutionary, I know. If you sit in someone’s company for 15 minutes or so, you automatically become more comfortable and at ease. You get used to them, the situation, where you’re sitting. You really don’t need that glass of wine.

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Interviewed by MagCulture

 

So there’s the update. Oh, wait! There’s the sleep. It is SO much better. Real unadulterated sleep! No blackouts, no 3am wake-ups, no naked wanderings of my flat, no nocturnal quests for water. My sleep is now deep and undisturbed, and I wake up in the morning feeling truly rested and positive, nay excited about the day ahead.

Right, I think that is really it. Day 21. Three weeks’ sober.

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I hope you didn’t find this post too nauseating (FYI not feeling nauseous is ACE) or preachy. But this no drinking resolution has already had such a positive impact that I feel duty bound to report it!

See you for the next sober update soon.

Alice X

Why I’m going dry in 2016

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The new year is always the time for resolutions. Lists are made: stop biting fingernails, go to the gym three times a week, get a boyfriend, see the grandparents more…and so on and so forth.

Sticking to them all rarely, if ever, happens. So this year, I’ve decided to give myself just the one resolution – and it’s not about doing, but rather not doing. It was an easy one to pick, too. I’ve been harbouring the urge to try it for quite some time. I have resolved not to drink alcohol (while in the UK) for the duration of 2016.

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When I posted my ambition on Facebook, it was met with various comments including “booooo”, “this sounds like a crap idea”, and “I was once told by a very wise old man not to trust anyone who doesn’t drink...”.  Consequently, I thought I should explain my reason for going sober.

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Here it is: 2016 is going to be a pivotal year for my growing business, Blogosphere Magazine, and by the end of it, I want to be able to look back and know that I have worked as hard as I possibly could with – at all times – a fully functional brain. I don’t want to waste any time feeling hungover.

That was the catalyst for my sober decision. But, once I’d made it, I started thinking about other reasons I want to abstain from alcohol.

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Now in my mid-twenties, it struck me recently that I’ve been drinking for around a decade. Over 10 years. (I know, where has time gone?)

My voyage into the bottle didn’t start softly, either. It wasn’t a case of the occasional glass of wine…more of eyeballing shots of vodka to avoid the school breathaliser. This was swiftly followed by three years at the University of Leeds, where – in an attempt to get on the same wavelength as the hordes of people dosed up to the eyeballs (what is it with eyeballs?) on plant fertiliser – I binge drank.

Then came London, here the drinking calmed down. It wasn’t about getting wasted, it was about relieving stress. Working at a newspaper, where life was a series of intense deadlines, a glass of wine became synonymous with the end of the day. The work/life divide was represented by the fridge opening, the bottle coming out and having a cool glass of white wine. Red in the winter.

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Statistics show that career driven women are drinking more than ever before. Indeed, a study carried out by the London School of Economics reported that “The more educated women are, the more likely they are to drink alcohol on most days and to report having problems due to their drinking patterns.”

But, hang on, this wasn’t supposed to be an AA-esque post…And I should add that I don’t drink excessively all the time. But in the last 10 years the longest I’ve had without an alcoholic drink has been 17 days (last dry January), and I’m quite intrigued to know what the human body could actually feel like when not ingesting alcohol for a long period of time. Indeed, an ex-colleague gave up drinking in September 2014 and after about three months bumped into her doctor on the street. He took one look at her and said “So you’ve given up alcohol?”.

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There’s the ‘career’ and the ‘genuine intrigue’ for this resolution. But there are other reasons, too…

  1. 99% of all things I have ever regretted in life happened whilst under the influence.
  2. I don’t want to have memory blackouts and wake up not knowing what I did the night before.
  3. The fear, which results from the aforementioned, is not something I want to experience again. Self-loathing on a weekly basis is not healthy.
  4. I want to have full weekends – doing interesting things – and not spend half off them in bed, demolishing packets of paracetamol in an attempt to feel normal again. I just want to feel normal – all the time.
  5. I want to go on a run, and then another, and then another, and build up fitness. I want to do this without ruining the progress with a huge night out at the weekend and then having an alcohol stitch when I go back to the gym.
  6.  I don’t want to eat fast food – when sober I don’t even like fast food. The only time I eat it is when drunk or excessively hungover.
  7. I don’t want to wake up with unexplained bruises on my body.
  8. I’d rather not wake up at 5am at least once a week and roam around my flat naked trying to find a glass of water for a thirst that is unquenchable.
  9. I do not want to scroll through my phone the morning after a big night and find that I’ve sent inappropriate messages to men. Or see that I’ve made Facebook calls. (Yes, they exist).
  10. I want to keep my belongings. Not lose purses, phones…and dignity on nights’ out.
  11. I don’t want to wake up with make-up all over my face, and eyelids glued shut with gunky mascara. And a mouth that feels like the desert.
  12.  I want to spend my money on making memories, rather than on drinking to have no memories.

There are probably many more. I’ll have a think! But that’s enough to get started with.

I’m feeling pretty determined…but then it is day one. Anyway, good luck to anyone else out there giving it a go. Do let me know how you get on – and your reasons for abstaining.

Alice X

 

I know what it’s like to stumble off the detox wagon, Kate

It is only after you leave the sanctuary of a health resort that the challenge to stay clean, green and teetotal really begins, says one writer who sympathises with the model’s recent fall from grace

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Kate Moss and I have little in common (apart from cheek bones to die for, almond-shaped eyes and a waiflike physique, that is), and the übermodel and multi-millionairess is not someone I’d ever expect to have much sympathy for. But this week, once I’d got over the shock that she flew easyJet (you can take the girl out of Croydon …), I’ve been feeling rather sorry for her. Tabloid headlines such as ”Kate Mess’’ and ”Moss’s mile-high meltdown’’ have seemed an overreaction to say the least.

As the whole world now knows, Kate allegedly got intoxicated and aggressive on a flight back from Turkey, where she had been celebrating her friend Sadie Frost’s 50th birthday at a favourite detox retreat in Bodrum. (That was another shock: the former queens of the notoriously raunchy Primrose Hill set celebrating a birthday by detoxing?)

There have been numerous explanations proffered: the food trolley ran out of sandwiches; she was refused alcohol; she was quaffing the Duty Free vodka in her hand luggage; fellow passengers were taking unflattering pictures of her on their phones. It has also been suggested that Moss simply fell foul of a crew overexcited at the presence of the world’s best known cover girl. Indeed, others on-board the flight said the ”fracas’’ was all very good-humoured. Whatever: the result was that Moss was escorted off the plane by police when it landed in Luton last Sunday and a tsunami of hyperbolic articles followed. Moss is clearly incapable of staying on the health wagon, carped the critics: as soon as she leaves an expensive detox retreat she can’t help but hit the bottle. Or “retox” as afficionados call it. As someone who has recently retoxed, in an equally undignified fashion, I have a particular understanding of the phenomenon.

Kate Moss in party mode at Jonathan Ross’s bash in 2014 [REX FEATURES]

For me it all started with a failed dry January. I’d overindulged at Christmas, both on brandy and turkey, and was looking festively plump as I entered the New Year. Dry January would be the perfect way to shift the pounds. Things were going swimmingly until a friend invited me to Morocco – a ‘dry’ country – for the weekend. One Piña Colada and the next thing I knew, we were two bottles of red down and on our way to being roaringly drunk.

It got worse over the following months and I was increasingly out of control. I drank most nights. A stressful Monday, and it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to polish off a bottle of Chapel Down Bacchus Reserve (excellent, by the way). A stressful Tuesday would result in the same story. And Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday. And Sunday, too, as I contemplated the stressful week ahead.

Crisis point was reached in mid-April. My mother sat me down and voiced her concerns. I cried, but agreed and we decided that we should go to a detox camp together to get ‘summer body ready’. After a bit of Googling, we settled on the Ti Sana resort near Lake Como in Italy, opting for the Healtheatarian GOLD 10-day course, a €3,999 (£2,922) extravaganza that was designed to “Boost your energy levels and positive thinking with an inspiring mix of healthy food, treatments and exercise”.

Like Moss’s stay at The LifeCo retreat in Bodrum, our detox menu featured juicing diets and multiple massage therapies, as well as optional daily exercise classes including yoga, walks and meditation. And like Moss, I imagine, by the end of our 10-day stay (three days juicing, seven on a strictly vegan diet), we felt like new women. I had lost 10 1/2lbs, 10cms around my hips, 7cms around my waist, and 3cms around my thighs. My mother seemed to have shrunk all over. We were calm and cleansed, with bodies that, henceforth, would be treated like temples. We were absolutely confident about embarking upon a new healthy life. Nothing would get in our way.

A fellow detoxer at Ti Sana, and a veteran of spas all over the world, told me that every single time she vows to turn over a new leaf – but can never resist that welcome glass of champagne in First Class on the way home. Another detox alumni, who spent a week deep-cleansing body and soul at a resort in Spain, had equally good intentions. “It was a fantastic week. We had sugar-free/fat-free/salt-free/gluten-free vegetarian food, plus lots of exercise. We had tutorials on how to keep up the good work. But once we got to Malaga airport, our flight was delayed and, well, we all just headed straight to the bar.”

I actually made it back from Milan to London without any problem. We had vegan snacks for the journey and my mother and I kept each other off the booze, inspired by frequent trips to the lavatory to check on our svelte, bloat-free profiles in the mirror. No, my spectacular fall from grace happened three weeks later – three weeks when I’d lived an exemplary clean and green and alcohol-free life – at a friend’s wedding. I was sure one iced strawberry daiquiri wouldn’t hurt. One probably wouldn’t have. Five, however, did. By the time we sat down to the delicious wedding supper, I was feeling pretty merry. By the speeches, I was properly drunk. And by midnight, after several Sambuca shots and spending a good hour trying to snog the bride’s brother, I had passed out underneath the gift table. #Classy. However, from this mortifying experience, the hangover from hell and all those euros spent on the detox, I have learnt my lesson.

So here are my top five tips for retoxing without getting arrested. Kate, listen up.

  1. Following your detox retreat, get to the airport late. Check in and head straight for the departure gate. No Duty Free or bars/cafés. Sleep – or pretend to – during the flight so nothing bad will pass your lips.
  2. Take a (flattering) picture of the new, reinvigorated you and stick it on the fridge/all mirrors. Make it the screen saver on your phone for good measure.
  3. Tell anyone who will listen about the joys of detox and how marvellous you feel. This will put pressure on you to live up to it.
  4. Write down all the compliments you receive about your weight loss, glowing skin and general fabulousness and read them to yourself every night.
  5. Promise yourself that, in public at least, you will not deviate from healthy conduct. If you really need to retox, do it in private.

The Selfie Stick

This article was first published on The Telegraph website!

The Selfie Stick! All hail to the Selfie Stick! What a joy it was waking up this morning to find the papers brimming with stories about the brilliant inventions. ‘This year’s Christmas stocking essential’ said one, ‘The must-have gift’ chimed another. Yes, yes. And hear, hear! Welcome – finally – to the party.

I first saw the Selfie Stick while on holiday in Singapore – and knew instantly that I had to have it. I bought one within an hour, and since then have been using the stick non-stop. Perfecting, if you will, all the different types of selfies one can achieve with it.

There are two types of stick: one is an extendable pole (where you have to set your phone on a timer to take pictures) and the other is installed with Bluetooth (this connects your phone and camera with the stick and you can take pictures automatically). Though the first option is cheaper, the second option – which I bought – is better. Who wants to wait on a timer for a selfie?

Now rather a dab-hand with the device, here’s my guide to some of the snaps you could be shooting this Christmas, if Saint Nick is kind enough to put one in your stocking.

1) The ‘having a good time’ selfie

A more flattering (because it’s further away from your face) take on the classic ‘having a good time’ selfie. In this shot, make sure that the actual stick is out of frame. You want it to look like there is no aid; that this is a normal hand holding your phone ‘natural’ snap. Tilt the stick to a 75 degree angle, extend the metal rod to about 30 centimetres, then turn away from the camera. When you’re ready, start laughing – swish back to face camera and click.

2) The ‘group’ selfie

One the whole family can enjoy! For this shot you can have the stick in or out of frame, but extend it to its full length (about a metre). Then tilt up, steady the hand and shoot! It’s best in this selfie situation to alert the group – or you’ll, as in this snap, get a few at the back out of focus.

3) The ‘dining’ selfie

At last, a way to get a real memento of the dining experience. You, your neighbour and an aerial view of exactly what you’re eating. Perfection. For this shot, the stick will have to be in frame. This actually works quite well as the camera focuses more on the stick and therefore casts a softer – and more flattering – light on you. Hold the selfie stick almost directly above you, make sure that you’re all in frame, take your elbows off the table – god forbid they should be there – and voila!

Bon appétit!

4) The ‘launch from behind’ selfie

​This is a fun little selfie number. You hold the stick from above, rather like a fishing rod, and cast it into the selected crowd. To achieve this shot, you must have a firm grip on the stick, so that it a) doesn’t wobble and b) doesn’t whack someone over the head.

If pulled off properly, however, it’s one of the best shots out there. Just look how happy they all are!

5) The ‘spin’ selfie

​The ‘spin’ selfie is a tricky number to master, but when you do, it’ll be worth the wait. We’re getting to a professional selfie stick level with this shot. Don’t feel like you need to launch in with a shot like this – build up gradually. Extend the stick to three quarters of its length, make sure the plastic holder has a secure grip on your phone and then start to spin. Start slow, then move faster – but snap away continuously through the rotations. You should end up with you in focus and a beautifully blurred background.

6) The ‘from below’ selfie

​A devious little number, which the paparazzi will probably love, the ‘from below’ selfie should only be used when with a circle of very good friends – who are all wearing trousers. It’s an interesting angle and, if you commit to it, can have some flattering and fun results. But, to reiterate, this should not be used outside of the confines of your home!

So there you have it! Should a selfie stick be in your stocking, you’re now prepared. Enjoy it and remember – always respect your selfie!

Look who’s back, back again…

So returning to these online pages didn’t really happen, did it? Well, New Year, new attempt…

Here’s a digest of some of the bits I’ve been writing over the last few months. I was the nominated misery guts over the festive season – so prepare for some negativity.

Why I hate, are you the …from hell?, the curse of the…? They are touch in cheek, of course. Not that the commentators ever take that onboard. But hey, what’s journalism without trolls? The two go hand in hand…

The glory days of Fleet Street, pure print and no criticism. Well, that was a long, long time ago…

Anyway, I’ll post up some of the stories now…photo

Journalism took over, but now I’m back

Hi Audley Chronicle.

It’s me. Alice. The one who used to write here a lot. Like, pretty much every day. And now has left you rotting in the ether – despite paying for the domain name. What a waste.

Anyway, the reason for the lack of content, the failure to put fingers to keyboard, is because my witterings were being published elsewhere.

I started this blog to get into journalism. And it happened. A means to an end – and all that malarkey. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t realise how much I would love it – and eventually miss it. So, though it’s not New Year, I’ve made a resolution. I am returning to the Audley Chronicle. To the routes. Heck, I may even start a YouTube channel.

That’s what’s going to be happening. Here is a breakdown of what has happened.

In July, I had my big break in the newspaper. I was the first journalist to fly with Carol Voderman. She, quite literally, launched my writing career. It was just going to be online, but then ended up being a full right-hand lead…and, wait for it, on the blooming’ front cover. BEST DAY EVER!

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Pretty schwwwweeeet. Here’s the link to the story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/aviation/10954486/Commencing-countdown-Carol-Vorderman-takes-to-the-skies.html

Anyway, after that, I had finally broken the writing wall and was allowed to go off and live the dream. Write, write, write. But, as it always the way, when you’re off doing so many things, you run out of time. You have to make sacrifices – and I was writing, and getting that writing fix, elsewhere. So the urge to write here…the guilty pangs of not updating…subsided.

But now, I am no longer always behind the desk. No, I wasn’t fired. This does kind of sound like it’s going down in that vein…No, I have just changed careers within journalism. I am a writer! I write for a living. Wahoo! Also, other things, but I’ll fill you in on that in due course…

So, what else has there been? What other literary adventures have I been on? Quite a few…

Most recently though was a trip to Paris to interview will.i.am…

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/celebritynews/11130795/will.i.am-I-sit-down-peeing.html

Link above.

Anyway, that’s a very brief overview. But, really, the point of this blog is to say ‘hello’ and that I’ll be on here again. I will be updating. I will be active. This will be the diary of my adventures…stay tuned.

Ta X

Office bugbears: what annoys you at work?

Hmmmmn. An interesting one this morning. Being asked to write about what annoys you about work and your colleagues. Rather a poisoned chalice…

An article to land you in hot water if ever there was one. But work is work. If you’re commissioned to write something, then you have to write it.

So, dear reader, here it is. What one finds annoying at work: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/10824744/Office-bugbears-what-irritates-you-at-work.html

 

The #nomakeupselfie

Social media nominations have exploded in 2014. January was dogged by #NEKnominate; the ridiculous pint-guzzling game (‘neck’ a drink and ‘nominate’ a friend to do the same) which, within two weeks, plagued all public forums and quickly escalated from drinking beer to ingesting lethal concoctions of spirits –claiming the lives of five.

In February, a group of South Africans replaced the dangerous trend with the #RAKnomination; where you showed a stranger a ‘random act of kindness’.  From baking cookies for the elderly to paying for someone’s supermarket shop, RAKS soon peppered Twitter feeds and Facebook threads. But they too, as of last week, have been replaced.

The end of March has brought with it a new social media sensation – the #nomakeupselfie (a picture of oneself wearing no make-up and then texting BEAT to 70007 to donate £3 to Cancer Research UK – then nominating someone else to do the same). ‘Finally using a social media trend to make a real difference’, I thought as my newsfeed brimmed with bare faces. Good on them. Well done.

But then I was nominated.

Now, a quick snap sans make-up sounds easy enough. Scrub off the slap and take the selfie. Simple. I thought the same… until I removed my face paint, looked in the mirror and then back at the picture of the girl who had nominated me. She had no make-up on and looked absolutely stunning. Yes, yes, I know, the whole point is to raise money for people suffering from a hideous and cruel disease, it’s not about looking good. But, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I realised it wasn’t just her that looked like they’d walked off the catwalk. These weren’t #nomakeupselfie [s], these were #seehowgoodilookwithoutanymakeuponselfies.

Bright-eyed, long-lashed, flawlessly-skinned – was this really what my friendship group look liked naturally? I took my first selfie, yuck. Another, cripes. One more, my goodness it was grim. Before I knew it, I had racked up 23. Not one of which would I have shown a friend, let alone shared on a public  forum.  Was I really so much rougher than my peers?

I thought about it long and hard…but then started to notice some similarities between these glossy pics of my friends. Trends within the trend. An hour and lots of research later, I’d created the perfect guide. So if you’re, like I was, scared of the #nomakeupselfie – do not fear! With these tricks, you’ll be sorted:

Photo: Thanks for the nomination bex and Jewers! Tilly Coles, Camilla McConnell, Anna Webster and Olivia Crane - you have 24 hours :)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/10721257/Ten-rules-for-the-perfect-nomakeupselfie.html