Sobriety in the Sun

It was fantastic to get away to Portugal for a mini break with my wife but unsurprisingly we had company… my beast.

After the last few years, which we have all battled through it was finally time to leave the kids behind with the grandparents and enjoy some adult time in the sun. It was our 10th wedding anniversary last week so I wanted to mark the occasion by returning to the same resort and hotel that we holidayed in and loved before we had children.

It was also another ‘milestone’ for me on my sobriety journey. Sure, I’ve done the stag doo away to another English city and a Spa break away with my wife but I was yet to have a foreign holiday as a teetotaller. I don’t get the urge to drink at home anymore and it’s rare I have fleeting thoughts about alcohol but the ‘beast’ was hard at work from the moment we got to the Algarve. Once checked in at the hotel and wandering around the resort around midday all I could see were bars and restaurants with huge menus and signs promoting beer and cocktails. Granted the resort we were in was quieter than the typical places the Brits and Irish descend on to get pissed up morning, noon and night but it was still the ‘normal parafanalia’ as holiday resorts go and it was hard not to be distracted by them all as I walked through the 25-27 degree heat.

My wife could tell I was being affected by the environment because I was making comments about alcohol and what people were doing pretty much every other exchange with her…

“Ah, look at them lads all drinking pints already”

“Happy hour all ready over there”

“Why aren’t more people drinking in that bar? I’d be drinking now if I still drank!”

“Thought I’d see more people already ‘on it’ to be honest. It is lunchtime after all”

I think I was surprised on the one hand that I wasn’t the only ‘non-drinker’ in the resort as observations go but it did bring back the memories of holidays gone by when I’d be drinking all day in the sun. It was just what we did!

Anyways, I’m going to be honest. The idea of having a sneaky drink or two whilst away was on my mind and I had to fight hard to quieten those voices over the three days I was away. I wasn’t tempted when I was sitting in a restaurant with my wife or even on a night time when the bars were full of drunk folk (we avoided the bars on an evening) – it was during the days round the pool, on the beach or walking past little marina bars when I was tempted to drink. It would never have happened because I was with my wife and she was with me pretty much all of the time (and conscious that I was struggling a bit) but if I’d been travelling on my own? I think it could have been a different story. Who knows?!

We don’t work with hypotheticals in recovery though. Let’s go with the facts. I went away and I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol. I had mocktails and some 0% Portuguese beers with plenty sparkling water!

I return home with my sobriety in tact and another experience to tick off. I know I can go abroad and not drink. Did it stop me having a nice time? No.

It isn’t easy in recovery. Certainly not for me but I know over time it will get easier and easier. For now… one day at a time.

I’m really tired from the travelling and unpacking so I’ll wrap up for today bud no doubt I’ll share more in the coming days.

Happy Daddy in Vilamoura, Portugal

Sober Summer Holiday

Day 230: Back from my first sober family holiday. Was it easy? Did I enjoy it? Did I miss the alcohol? Well, let’s talk about it…

First of all let me set the scene. We were at Center Parcs in the Cumbrian Countryside. High ground surrounded by pine forest and wildlife. Living in a lodge albeit the amenities of a City Centre apartment. The Log fire gives it the ‘cost country’ finish though.

I think it’s important to reflect on something that made you smile at the end of each day. Whilst I resisted journaling whilst on holiday I did make a mental note of a daily highlight…

Monday: Collected the bicycle we hired for my 6 year old daughter from the Cycle Centre. She’s fairly new to riding a bike but recently advanced to no stabiliser wheels. She was brilliant cycling back to our lodge despite cars on the park roads and other obstacles in front of her

Tuesday: I’ll resist another soppy parenting highlight and just be honest. My football team Sunderland won 5-0 against Cheltenham. I would have been at the match if I wasn’t on holiday so I enjoyed following the game on my iPad once the little one was in bed. I also won £80.66 from a £5 football bet. I supped a few 0.0% bottles of beer too. That’s As much as a lad’s night I’d get on a family holiday these days!

Wednesday: Woke up before the rest of the family at 6am so took advantage of the silence and read the remaining chapters of my current book ‘Everything begins with asking for help’ by Kevin Braddock. It’s always a great feeling to close a book for the final time and reflect on what that read meant to you. My oldest daughter woke up next at 8am so I really did get a good peaceful stretch at reading before the day began!

Thursday: I brought my running kit as I’ve done on all of my previous visits to Whinfell Forest. Been feeling a bit under the weather with a sore throat and chesty cough so could have swerved it but chose to try and sweat it out. Managed 4.5 miles in the damp drizzle. Decent run around the quiet ‘village’ and back to the lodge for a hot shower. Running will never not make me feel better, even if only for an hour afterwards!

Friday: Friday mornings are departure day for most people on site who arrived Monday. We booked for 7 nights so not for us. We booked swimming and the whole water complex was the quietest I’ve seen it in all of our visits. I took advantage of the sparseness and had a go on all of the water rides – much to the amusement of my family!

Saturday: The grandparents arrived for the weekend yesterday so me and my wife took advantage of some down time. We played 18 holes of mini golf in the rain (which I won by one shot) and then I won 3-0 at Pool. Nice to remind her who the boss is. I wish!

Sunday: My 35th birthday so naturally I was spoilt by my wife and little girls. They love the fuss of a birthday. It’s been raining all week but I braved the English weather and went solo kayaking on the lake. As much as I love my family I love time on my own and it was a very relaxing albeit cold and wet time spent paddling.

Man in a boat

Holidays with young children are never a breeze but being sober and having a more positive outlook to each day certainly makes it easier. I haven’t wobbled drink wise and my anxiety levels remained low. I’m happy to be home though. There’s something about your own bed and shower that always brings you back to your abode.

So I’m off for a clean and an early night. Speak soon!