Sober update from St Lucia

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.

IMG_6891 (1).JPG

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.

IMG_6760

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.

IMG_6839
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.

IMG_6881

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.

IMG_6822

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

 

IMG_6842
Sunset Cruise

 

IMG_6812
Sister sister

South of France Photos – Compilation Two

Callian restaurant - week two (taken shortly before Annie took to the streets to play football with the owner's twins)
Callian restaurant – week two (taken shortly before Annie took to the streets to play football with the owner’s twins)
diving 1
9/10 diving attempt

10/10 Daley would be proud...

Week two team photo...
Week two team photo…
A completely off-guard and unplanned, unposed photograph...
A completely off-guard and unplanned, unposed photograph…
Beer pong victors...
Beer pong victors…
'To jump, or not to jump, that is the question'
‘To jump, or not to jump, that is the question’
To jump is the answer...
To jump is the answer…
Followed by a chilly dunk...
Followed by a chilly dunk…
And then a herbal essences inspired very meterosexual natural shower...
And then a herbal essences inspired very meterosexual natural shower…
Week two team photo…

South of France Photos – Compilation One

With Annie on top of the world in Mons...
With Annie on top of the world in Mons…
Huffy, just Huffy
Huffy, just Huffy

 

One of many photo shoots with Elle...
One of many photo shoots with Elle…
Another...
Another…
A Montauroux sunset...
A Montauroux sunset…
Bottoms up...
Bottoms up…
Lagoon rush with Kenny...
Lagoon rush with Kenny…
Music party...Montauroux
Music party…Montauroux
OAP drinking games...
OAP drinking games…
Flash enjoying a spot of French rain...
Flash enjoying a spot of French rain…
Elle M and Anna W playing Gin or no Gin
Elle M and Anna W playing Gin or no Gin
Week one out for a large supper at the Marina
Week one out for a large supper at the Marina
Kenny battling the rapids...
Kenny battling the rapids…
Alice and Maples
Alice and Maples
Simmo, Alice and Elle
Simmo, Alice and Elle
Anna and Saf
Anna and Saf
Alice and Simmo (and the Barbosa hat)
Alice and Simmo (and the Barbosa hat)
Maizels sporting the burn...
Maizels sporting the burn…
Alice and Steel
Alice and Steel
Simon and Peter embracing their feminine sides...
Simon and Peter embracing their feminine sides…
Simon, Cary, Annie and Pete
Simon, Cary, Annie and Pete

South of France Summer – 6

alice twirl

And it’s all over. 15 days, 18 guests, and an oil drum’s worth of wine, Summer in the South of France 2013 is complete. Well, almost complete, yours truly is still here…alone. Not for long though, in a couple of hours I’ll collect my sister and have company once again.

It was quite an odd evening yesterday. After dropping Annie J, Tom H, Tom C and Pete S off at the airport, I hadn’t quite anticipated how different an empty abode would feel. Gone were the jubilant shouts from the beer pong table, gone was Simon ‘the dj’ N’s feminine playlists, gone was Tom C’s requests for talcum powder to help his “prickly heat,” and gone were Pete S’s trivial pursuit challenges, and I was no longer a hostess.

This did mean, however, that I had a longer and guilt-free stint on my laptop and was able to reminisce over the multifarious adventures of the past 15 days, and more importantly be able to decide which photos should be deleted, which should be censored and which are suitable for internet distribution…percentage wise there aren’t many, sadly, that fit into the last category, but fortunately even though only 25% of  the photos are fit for human visual consumption, that still means there are over 200 snaps to peruse.

These will probably be posted and shared on drop box, and I will save the best of the best for you here. Once I’ve had a bit of fun editing on Pic Monkey – until then…

sky

South of France – Food

A rather bullish acquaintance of my grandmother’s once lectured me on the quality of French food. I had expressed my personal preference to the French cuisine over the English and she had told me, in no uncertain terms, that I was wrong. Indeed this overbearing soul spent a good half an hour telling me that the French just had good sauces to cover up the poor quality of their meat. As a young and impressionable girl, I assumed that this aged female must be right – the older the wiser and all.

Now, however, I must finally take a stand.  A decade on, I must take the bull by the horns (and I don’t mean the animal) and tell her, that it is she, not me, that is wrong. Why now? you ask. Because last night I had the most exceptionally delicious dish of French meat, far superior to anything that I have manged in England, and it had, wait for it, NO sauce. Indeed, it was perfectly sauceless…

IMG_3109Oh heavenly, heavenly steak tartare, the raw, sauceless meat of dreams. The bovine ambrosia to the gods…

As you can probably tell, it was in the words of Pete S “ruddy good”, and placed us firmly in the realms of foodie ecstasy. So good, indeed, it was, that I had no choice but to write, in true English style, a firmly worded letter to make my point. Well in my head, I don’t think I could send one? The elder may not be the wiser, but they still deserve respect.

So with my hypothetical letter penned, and my thoughts firmly on the high quality of French food, I thought I’d share with you some snaps of some of my favourite dishes over the last fortnight. Dishes which, far supersede, the average meal out back over the channel. So without further ado, I present to you, French Food – the album.

confit de canard
confit de canard
broccoli and mashed potato tien topped with bacon
broccoli and mashed potato tien topped with bacon

 

veal and boursin wrapped in parma ham
veal and boursin wrapped in parma ham
prawn risotto
prawn risotto
artichoke mousse
artichoke mousse
goat's cheese pizza
goat’s cheese pizza
Lobster and truffle risotto
Lobster and truffle risotto
Simon N's bbq coke-cooked chicken
Simon N’s bbq coke-cooked chicken
steak hache avec oeuf et frites (hamburger topped with an egg and a side of chips)
steak hache avec oeuf et frites (hamburger topped with an egg and a side of chips)

And one more, just for good measure, of the bovine ambrosia:

IMG_3109

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South of France Summer – 3

Wow. It’s been jam-packed. Really jam-packed. Tom M (1) left, Anna W and Richard K arrived. They were followed 24 hours later by Flash, Ben S and Jamie S – and a few hours, and a lot of cancelled bus journeys after that, two Australians joined our team. Well one Australian, and one recently  English to Australian convert – Sophia L (who I travelled with in India.) Sophia, who has been living down under for the last two years, hasn’t just picked up a twang of an accent, Sophia is a fully blown Australian.

So a new expanded force took on as much of Montauroux as we could manage. BBQs, Rendevous restaurant, La Marina again, a trip to the lagoon and the renowned river walk.  Calling this activity the river walk doesn’t really do the voyage justice. It’s more of a gorge hike – jumping off cliffs, over rapids, spending 90% of the time in freezing, crystal clear waters, bouncing, running, falling and without doubt, at some point, grazing oneself, the adventure is not for the faint-hearted.

Sadly what with the aforementioned hazardous terrain, one is unable to take a camera along…and thus there is no physical documentation of its existence. But trust me, it does exist – I have the scars to prove it.

Indeed, despite losing my previously unbeaten record last year to a certain Tom C, I couldn’t help but pursue victory once again…and, I’m happy to tell you dear readers, that I succeeded. It was neck and neck, it involved a rugby tackle, a scramble through a thicket of brambles which sliced into my arm, chest and leg flesh, but I did it – I beat Tom M (2) to river walk glory and have regained my champion’s title! Wahoo.

But, as I said, there are no photos of this. Instead, I offer you an assortment from the days, the meals and the nights prior. Enjoy:

Richard K and Sophia L enjoying a home cooked meal...
Richard K and Sophia L enjoying a home cooked meal…
Richard K and Alice at the Rendevous restaurant (wearing matching earrings)
Richard K and Alice at the Rendevous restaurant (wearing matching earrings)
Elle M and Anna W playing Gin or no Gin
Elle M and Anna W playing Gin or no Gin
Some more games...
Some more games…
The new team out for a large supper at the Marina
The new team out for a large supper at the Marina
Elle and her veal
Elle and her veal
Flash enjoying a spot of French rain...
Flash enjoying a spot of French rain…
Anna W in the Barbosa hat out to supper in Callian
Anna W in the Barbosa hat out to supper in Callian
Myself in the Barbosa
Myself in the Barbosa
Dancing in the square with Simmo
Dancing in the square with Simmo

And the the piece de resistance…Kenny in the Barbosa hat.

IMG_3120

South of France Summer – 2

We’ve had some new additions. Three new additions to be precise – Tom M (not to be confused with the other Tom M – something which we seem to be struggling with ourselves) arrived on Monday night, and Richard K and Anna W arrived just a few hours ago.

The team will grow again tomorrow as Flash, Jamie S and Ben S arrive. However, less about what’s to come and more on what we’ve been up to since I last spoke to you, my readers.

On Monday night, before the arrival of a tired and sickly Tom M (2), the original four journeyed a la pied (by foot) to the local village Montauroux and to La Marina restaurant. Another supper out, and though not as artistically presented as the night before, the food was equally delicious, and there was, of course, the added bonus that we could drink…which made us all the merrier.

IMG_2747

Elle and I shared this monster of a goat's cheese pizza
Elle and I shared this monster of a goat’s cheese pizza

alice and troubes

IMG_2746

So that was Monday night, onto yesterday. Yesterday, Elle and I made a fantastic picnic and we all went to the local lake; Lac St Cassian, for the afternoon.  Using some pigeon French, I wrangled a deal for a pedalo and after making a pit stop for some much needed water, we clambered aboard and set sail (pedalled) across the rippling lake waves.

elle pedalo

alice pedaloThe boys, who have now taken to referring to themselves as the ‘lads’ – and have even invented a game called ‘lad ball’, decided to prove themselves and jump of the lake’s bridge; a sort of testosterone initiation if you will. Standing at 11 metres and filled with zooming cars and angry drivers, Elle and I opted out and stayed on our vessel. We needed to take photos after all…this was mine:

IMG_2800In the words of that youtube farmer, when shown this number “they did not look ‘appy”.

This didn’t deter them from making a ‘lads’ bbq – which was, not that I’ve told Tom M (2), was actually rather nice. Just look at this meat:

IMG_2807As our cavemen were mixing meat with fire, Elle and I tucked into the champagne that herself and Ed T had bought me to thank me for letting them stay.

champagneelle champagne And then made the most of a setting sun with a wee photo shoot.

alice and elle 2

Then man demanded woman to come and sit, and we tucked into a wonderful feast:

IMG_2880So far so good. Tonight we are heading out to Callian for supper after we sadly bid farewell to Tom M (1), who has to return to England.

Indeed, it is this farewell that I must leave you for now. Adieu mes amis, adieu.

South of France Summer

Finally some vitamin d. Streaking through the window as I write, the sun is officially out, not the half -hearted business we’ve been dealing with in London, but full on sun! I’m in the South of France and have been here almost 24 hours.

IMG_2722

What a 24 hours they have been. I missed my train at Blackfriars by 1 minute and then had to wait 30 minutes for another one. As a punctual fiend, my stress levels started to rise (even though I had left plenty of time), and this was anything but alleviated when I arrived at Gatwick and found an EasyJet check-in queue to rival Bubbledogs’s.

At 11 a.m, with just 20 minutes to spare, we were still a long way off Trish and her conveyor belt. Things were not looking peachy, not looking peachy at all. With Tom M at this point, who was getting a lot of abuse from me as a result of his persistent chat about the fry-up be wanted once we got through, ‘we don’t have time’, I started to voice my concerns loudly. “We’re going to miss the plane, oh god, Elle and Troubes are already out there, what are we going to do?!”

What a stroke of fortune; my fears were overheard by a security guard, who took pity on what he thought was the start of a romantic getaway, and let us under the belt and straight to Trish. Queue jump, yes please!

We made it onto the plane; the journey was smooth and all looked as if it would be fine. We landed, luggage came, we located the car that my brother had left at the airport and the keys. We paid 22.50 euros, for the car parking (overnight) and set off to the hills. Driving in France, and driving a big car in France (I’m used to a mini, this is a people carrier), does stress me out a little. Especially at the beginning of a trip…foreign territory and all.

What I didn’t realise at this point was that my co-pilot was going to take me to foreign territories from the foreign territories that I already knew. Yes, driving from the airport, he commanded me to turn right and get onto the A8. I knew the road was the A8, but darling Tom had set me on it the wrong bloody way. We weren’t heading to Cannes and Antibes, but to Monaco. Monaco!

Two tolls booths, 5 euros and a barney to be remembered later, we were back on track and heading south. 50 minutes after this, we pulled up outside our maison. Home at last.

Elle and Troubes arrived, fresh in from Fayence, and after a quick refreshing beverage, we set off to the hills in search of a restaurant – in a convertible, not the people carrier. We picked Mons, a beautiful hilltop town and found a quaint restaurant tucked in a little side street. Then we ate, ah French food, c’est tres, tres bien.

IMG_2669

olive tapenade and crusty french bread
olive tapenade and crusty french bread
artichoke mousse
artichoke mousse
prawn risotto
prawn risotto
salade gourmandine
salade gourmandine
veal and boursin wrapped in parma ham
veal and boursin wrapped in parma ham

And of course a bottle of rosé…

IMG_2675

The perfect cure for travelling stress, and the perfect way to embark upon our fortnight of fun. Summer in the South of France has finally begun!