Alcohol free wine is not remotely like wine

When I embarked on One Year, No Beer I promised myself I wouldn’t make my 5 Things all about that but every now and then there’s something that can’t be ignored. In this case, it’s that alcohol free wine is not remotely like wine. Even the ones that are brewed with alcohol then have the alcohol removed, unlike ones that never had alcohol in, in the first place.

I’m 7 weeks in to my alcohol free year and loving it. No being artificially tired from alcohol. I can drive anywhere, anytime without thinking ‘damn, I’ve had a glass of wine, I’m now either marooned or have to get the bus’ and my bank balance is looking much healthier. Friends have asked how I’ve managed to kick the alcohol and I think there are 2 things:

  1. A year is such a long time that there’s no point counting days and weeks until I can drink again so it’s easier just to forget about it.
  2. Don’t try and replace wine with an alternative, just shove it out of your life and don’t think about it.

I realise that what I’ve just said contradicts the title of this paragraph but once a week my bestie comes over, we would usually share a bottle of wine and it’s a nice opportunity to keep her company, drink from a wine glass (one habit I strangely miss) and see what alternatives are on the market. So far I’ve tried 2 types of alcohol free wine, a Sauvignon Blanc and ‘Nosecco’ and they’re both not remotely like wine, just some sort of sweet drink that doesn’t really taste like anything else on the market to compare it with.

So it’s out with the alcohol substitute products and in with every day drinks. One thing I have discovered is Robinsons crushed Lime & Mint cordial. Mixed with fizzy water it tastes just like a Mojito without the pesky hangover.

Always read the paperwork

I like to do everything online so there is very little paperwork in my life. It means that when paperwork does come my way I don’t always pay attention to it. My partner’s car needed an MOT and as I work for myself so can take time off, I was nominated to be the one to take the car. So far so good.

I drop the car off, say a quick prayer to the MOT gods and go to my friend’s house for coffee while I wait. An hour or so later I get a call to pick the car up. When I get there they said the car had failed on a couple of minor points, told me what they were, handed me the failure report and I went on my way.

Now I’m not saying my partner leaves things to the last minute but we only had 2 days to turn this around, fix the car, retest it, before the old MOT expired. Thank goodness for my friend Andy, who came over that night, sorted out the issues and we were good to go.

On the last day of valid certificate I dropped the car off, certain it would pass and waited. When it failed on another minor point they asked if I’d read the paperwork. ‘Does anyone read paperwork these days?’ I asked. They answered ‘probably not but if ti’s an MOT failure I’d glance over the paperwork and see what needed doing’. Long story short, I had missed an entire point and luckily a bit of grovelling to the nice people at Merityre meant they changed the bulb that was failing, for me and we were good to go. I can’t promise that I’ll read all paperwork from now on but I’ll certainly read MOT failure certificates, that’s for sure.

Don’t take medication before having tests in hospital

Irony, thy name is Holly. Seriously. I had to take my son to a hospital appointment for routine allergy testing (he has a horrendous peanut allergy and has to be re-tested every couple of years to ensure his care plan is up to date).

He had the allergens put on his arm, the skin prick done and we were told to wait in the waiting room for 15 minutes. Whilst doing this I pulled out my laptop (after all, it’s a work day) and started writing the paragraph above about not reading paperwork. As I finished the paragraph we were called into the nurse’s room for the results. The nurse registered that the peanut allergen had had a big reaction but the control one had failed. She then asked if I’d given him antihistamine in the 5 days leading up to the testing. Yep, he had it at bedtime the night before as he’d had a reaction. The nurse explained that the test hadn’t worked because the antihistamine was still in his body and we’d have to rebook for another test next month. Oh and that not giving children antihistamine prior to the appointment was all in the paperwork they’d given me when the appointment was booked. Doh! After being extremely apologetic she said lots of parents (me included) just scan the letter for the date and time of the appointment and disregard the other information. Please can I make sure I read all the rules well in advance of the next appointment.

So there you have it, the moral of this week is always read paperwork, especially if you’re in a rush, have a deadline and don’t want to waste valuable NHS resources and time.

Networking takes skill

I went to my first networking event on Wednesday. My sister gets a lot of work via networking groups and had been on at me for ages to jump on the bandwagon and go and meet new people. Having resisted her efforts of persuasion for over a year, my defence finally broke and I was signed up to an event in Wimbledon. I didn’t think I’d be nervous, I’ve done similar events before (not strictly networking, but events where I’ve met lots of new people), but when the day came, I was suffering one of the worst cases of anxiety that I’d had for a while. I pushed on as I know, for me, that the only way to beat anxiety is to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, and found myself in a room with 29 other ladies looking to network.

What separated this from any other event I’ve been to is that people came and introduced themselves within seconds of me lingering, looking lost and started talking about their work and mine. So far, so good. However a couple of times I got landed with people, also new to the event, who I felt had me cornered and wouldn’t let me go. When we got to the third round of them telling me the same info about their business it was time to move on. I looked pleadingly at my sister who politely extracted herself from whatever conversation she was having and came to rescue me. This is the skill I’m missing, how to get out from in front of a person without seeming rude.

The rest of the experience was good, other than having to do a 1 minute pitch which I wasn’t expecting (yet another case of not reading paperwork) and not having enough business cards. I met some lovely people, who are much more skilled at networking than me. Thank goodness. I’ll be heading back to another one in a month or so, which will hopefully give me some time to practise my networking skills, particularly my fear of approaching people and extracting myself from people whose business I don’t have any interest in.

Everyone has an interesting story

By the time you get to my age everyone has a story. What makes them who they are today and in the business that is everyday life, we often don’t get to hear about peoples’ journeys. I’m embarking on a new project, to run next year which is Five minutes with….. the idea is that it’s a series of interviews where I get to talk to people about their stories. As a starting point I combed my contacts and friends lists and have been really lucky so far in that everyone I’ve asked, has said yes and I’ve already recorded a couple of interviews and have another 5 scheduled. I’ve talked to friends and family about the idea of Five minutes with as I wanted to see whether it was something people would be interested in and alongside being met with a resounding ‘yes’, people have suggested their friends for interview. The upshot is that I’ve learned more about my friends and theirs, what interests them, who they think I should talk to and I can honestly say I’ve been blown away by some of the stories I’ve heard.

Last week I interviewed a very dear friend, whose journey I knew bits and pieces of but having the time, attention and space to sit and listen to his experience, from start to finish and learn about the incredible things he’s gone on to do was an utter privilege. I’m really excited to be sharing the interviews with you early next year and so looking forward to the next round of interviews, learning more about friends and even *deep breath*, being brave and interviewing people suggested by friends, who I haven’t even met yet.

*If you’d like to be interviewed for Five minutes with or know someone who you think would be a great candidate for it, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.