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The End of Dry January

I’d never considered giving Dry January a go before, but this year I couldn’t wait to get started. Maybe it was because we got stuck into the Christmas spirit a little earlier than usual, or just that my body – now in its forth decade – has finally accepted its limits and was begging for a month off the Prosecco. Either way, I was in the zone and ready to be alcohol free for 30-days!

I didn’t do anything to prepare myself for the long weeks ahead. I did not banish wine from the house or pour good bottles of Chablis down the sink. I left everything exactly the way it was.

Everyone told me that the first few days would be the hardest, but they passed without so much as a flicker at the wine rack. We had people over for drinks and I happily filled their glasses with wine while I sipped on my fizzy water. I went to my brother’s birthday lunch and we all had a nice cup of tea! I even enjoyed a sober night out in Chelsea.

Not only was Dry Jan not a struggle in the slightest, but I actually rather enjoyed it.

I went to bed early every night with my kindle for company and woke up 11-hours later, feeling rested and ready to tackle the day. All those extra hours I had wished for a month before just miraculously appeared; and my never ending to-do list shrunk to manageable bullet points while I cracked on doing stuff. It would seem I am much more productive when I am not tired or hungover!

I thought I would be glugging straight from the bottle when January finally came to a close, but I felt like I could go even longer without booze. In fact, I think I will miss being dry more than I missed the wine.

The Courgette

While many couples may get into a debate over whose turn it is to have control of the remote, go out on a Friday night or sleep in on a Sunday morning, it is more unusual for a couple to argue over who gets to do the supermarket shop. Yet, this is the predicament I have recently found myself in.

When the Greek God(zilla) and I were both working full-time, the weekly food shop was something that we did online and it was delivered on Saturday mornings. When I left my office job and started working from home, I suddenly had much more time to wander the supermarket aisles in search of good deals. This was usually on a Wednesday when I wanted to avoid our cleaner so that she wouldn’t judge me for being at home all day while she scrubbed my toilet.

I got into a routine and it worked really well for us. I would menu plan in advance and add ingredients to a running shopping list. When we were close to running out of something I would add said item to the list so that I’d remember to buy it on my next visit and we would never be caught short without loo roll, kitchen foil, or wine.

I really enjoyed choosing my own fruit and vegetables and selecting meats with the longest use-by date so that I wouldn’t need to put them straight into the freezer. I also started buying kitchen essentials at the supermarket such as measuring jugs, Tupperware, tea towels and stemless wine glasses. I would run my hands over cushions and throws as I passed them in the homeware aisles and they would sometimes find their way into my shopping trolley too. After a while, the weekly supermarket visit was something I looked forward to. My Wednesdays were sorted!

But then work got busier – much busier – and I no longer had as much time to devote to my favourite pastime. The Greek God(zilla) was also adamant that he could do the food shop for less.

This is absolute rubbish by the way. On the occasions he did do the shop, he returned with tubs of houmous (hello, I think you might know someone in the HOMEMADE houmous business?!), nuts, crisps, beer, wine and several packets of pork chops (for the freezer) and spent about £40 more than I ever did. There was also not a complete meal to be found.

He reluctantly handed the trolley reins back to me, but recently when another big supermarket started sending him money off vouchers for £20-£30 a shop, it made sense for us to use them – on the strict proviso that he stuck to the shopping list and didn’t go rogue in the dips aisle.

Well, it has been an interesting experiment, to say the least. He takes the shopping list out with him, but casually edits it on his way round depending on what his taste buds are calling out for. So, nuts and crisps (not on the list) still make it home, but things like avocados and mushrooms don’t because he doesn’t like them. Just last week, we had a row over a courgette. Yep, A COURGETTE. A fine vegetable for bulking out a ratatouille and spiralizing to have instead of spaghetti.

It all started because the week before I had thrown half a courgette away. I can’t remember why we didn’t eat as much courgette that particular week, but the Greek God(zilla) refused to buy another because “you never eat them, love”.

I argued my case for the courgette for 10-minutes. I described the delicious meals I planned to make with it. I explained how versatile a vegetable it was and how it went with everything. I pleaded with him not to leave me courgetteless for a whole week, but it fell on deaf ears.

He didn’t buy the courgette.

I am a great believer in picking your battles so we are still on speaking terms, but IT’S A COURGETTE. A COURGETTE!

I bought my own courgette in the end and made a very tasty briam (Greek roasted vegetables) while he was away. However, this week I suspect I will mostly be making healthy fruit salads before he takes umbrage with the humble banana.

When the Greek God(zilla) is away…

The Greek God(zilla) has left for a week-long work trip to Switzerland. He travels a few times a year, but the goodbyes never get easier and whether he is away for a day or two or a whole month, for the first few hours after he leaves I am an emotional mess!

It’s not that I hate him being away, as once the sadness has lifted I actually quite enjoy the quiet time. The house is tidy, I have sole custody of the remote control and sleep diagonally across the bed just because I can. I eat breakfast for dinner and drink tea by the pot(s). I go to bed early and watch Netflix tucked up under the duvet.

In some ways, it is easier with one less person to think about. Instead of looking at the bins (his job) and wondering when he is going to take them out, I just do them myself. I am loath to do this when he is home as it would soon become ‘my job’, but when he is away I am totally on top of it! I am also adept at changing light bulbs, hanging pictures and booking the car in for a service. I draw the line at lighting the barbecue – which is very much the Greek God(zilla)’s territory – because while I am very happy to reap the rewards of an afternoon spent cooking on fire, it is much less of a faff to just pop a couple of sausages under the grill.

Weirdly, I am also more on top of ‘my’ jobs when the Greek God(zilla) is away. Or maybe it just seems this way without his coat, shoes, bag and socks being casually discarded in the room they were removed. Our bed stays made and cups find their way from the side of our bed – to the sink – to the dishwasher.

Chores aside, the queue for the shower is shorter, the toilet seat is down and there is always food in the fridge. Our son misses him, but I fill in for his dad where I can. Sometimes this is watching Match of the Day together (yawn) and sometimes just rolling about on the floor. I am not as good at kicking a ball around the garden, but I’ll play a few rounds of table football.

So, it is not so bad and I enjoy the solitude because I know he will soon be home and chaos will resume.

But on the day he leaves, I am in floods of tears. It is ridiculous. I miss his booming voice calling down from our bed for a cup of tea. I miss him following me around from room to room. I miss seeing his stuff scattered all over the house. Although, I probably don’t miss these things really. I probably just miss him. For as tedious as the mechanics of a marriage can sometimes be, we are always happier together than apart.

Don’t Make Assumptions

As previous years have come to a close I have usually had an idea of what I want my theme to be for the year to come. Not a resolution as such, but a theme that will guide my decisions and actions in a more positive way. This year was the year to say no and let it go, and past themes have included the year of saying yes, the year of raising my game and the year to let the pieces fall.

But, for whatever reason I have really struggled to come up with a theme for 2017.

Obviously, there are lots of things I want to achieve – personally, professionally and physically – but I think of these more as challenges that my 2017 mindset will help me to accomplish.

But what should that be? I do not need to say yes or no, more or less often. I feel motivated at work, I have a good balance at home and don’t feel I need to step up or step back.

I was considering making ‘show-up’ my theme. To make more effort to show-up to important events for my loved ones so they know that their life is important to me, but I think I am already ok at this. Invite me to your birthday drinks, book launch, wedding, kids party or over to your house for a cup of tea and a catch up and I will be there! However, maybe I could work on being there for people when they haven’t asked me outright to be. For example, my sister has turned up to almost every farmers’ market we have done without ever being asked to and when I see her it really makes my day. Ok so I know she’s really there for the tzatziki, but I am happy she only buys it from us. Her presence makes me feel loved, appreciated and supported. I’d like to pay more of that forward.

But, after much umming and ahhing, ‘show-up’ didn’t feel like the right theme for me. I felt I needed something… bolder.

One thing I have learnt this year is not to make assumptions. When I look back at my mistakes, many of these can be put down to assumptions I made about a situation, person or place and believed to be true based on the way I see the world.

As I tried to make sense of something, my mistake was to assume that because I believed something or someone to be a certain way, it was fact. Of course, we are all wired differently and I think my assumptions have led to more problems than they have ever solved.

So, I have decided that my theme for 2017 will be Don’t Make Assumptions. Not about people, situations, health, money or career. I am not going to label a brusque cashier, a dismissive colleague or friend who doesn’t respond to messages as rude. I am not going to assume an offhand comment has a bitchy undertone, or someone who does not buy a round as tight. I am going to keep an open mind, consider someone may be having a bad day or much bigger stuff going on that I don’t know about.

I am not going to assume that it’s all about me and I hope that others will do me the same courtesy.

I want to be open to new people, fresh opportunities, healthier habits and differing opinions. I don’t want to be swayed by other people’s judgements, but more importantly, I don’t want to be swayed by my own.

The Football Table

I really enjoy the run-up to Christmas. For us, the festive fun starts on 10th December – the Greek God(zilla)’s birthday – when we traditionally choose our tree and hold our annual Christmas party. However, this year we decided to have a low-key affair and had a quiet one at our local instead. As I did not have a party for 40 people to cater for and host, I had much more time on my hands to get organised for Christmas and bar one item, had finished most of the shopping early *insert smug face here*.

I always say that the moment you start to feel even slightly smug about yourself, the universe will reward you with you a big cosmic punch in the face… and I was about to be proved right!

Our 7-year old had requested a football table from Father Christmas. One of those big clumpy things with little red and blue men on poles that no doubt would have to stay in the middle of our living room forever as there is no space for it anywhere else. Anyway, as he really REALLY wanted it and it was cheaper than the other thing that he also really REALLY wanted – an Xbox, which I think he is still a bit young for – I did some research and found a few football tables that can fold away when they are not being used. I sent the links to the Greek God(zilla) to select the best one and order it because, let’s face it, what little I know about table football I learnt from Joey & Chandler on Friends.

Anyway he cut it a bit fine, but did eventually order a table and it was delivered 3-days before Christmas.

To the wrong address! Fortunately, not to a complete stranger and the table was signed for by his confused mum, who lives about 40-mins away.

After a deep sigh, I started to get ready to drive over and pick it up, but the Greek God(zilla) was adamant that I would not be able to lift it into our car alone. However, the next time we were due to be at his parents house was with the whole family on Christmas Eve and I really did not want to have to explain to our son why Father Christmas delivers presents by Amazon Prime and not reindeer. So, we asked Yiayia to cover it with a blanket and with a bit of strategic iPad distraction on Christmas Eve, I carried the table stealthily out to the car ON MY OWN. It was a bit cumbersome, but worth it to keep the magic alive for one more year!

Later that evening, after setting out a mince-pie and a glass of milk for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph, I tucked an excited small boy into bed and settled down in front of Love Actually to finish the last of the wrapping while the Greek God(zilla) assembled the table football. Well, that was the plan anyway.

He pulled all the pieces out of the box, the nuts and bolts, the legs, the poles and the little blue and red men, looked at them and back to me and said “you’re going to have to help me out, love”.

So that is how I ended up spending Christmas Eve – everything organised, wrapped and packed – yet still putting a football table together at the eleventh hour, while the Greek God(zilla) handed parts to me with one hand, swigged a whisky with the other and chuckled away to Love Actually.

In the interest of full disclosure, once the table had been assembled and my eyes had started blinking for 20-seconds at a time, the Greek God(zilla) did sit up until 2am putting the little blue and red men onto poles “for me”.