Booze Alternative: Schweppes Ginger Beer

Who knew there were so many ginger beers in the world? I didn’t. This is another one I discovered when Mum and Dad were in town last month.

Schweppes Ginger Beer
Schweppes Ginger Beer.

This one tastes kind of retro. I can’t really explain it. It just sort of…reminds me of something that I maybe drank a very long time ago, when I was very young. I think I need a few more of these to try and work it out.

Booze Alternative: Fever Tree Ginger Beer

About a week after trying the Fever Tree ginger ale, I found their ginger beer in the Holiday Inn bar in central Newcastle.

Fever Tree Ginger Beer
Fever Tree Ginger Beer.

This one’s much tastier than the ale, with a nice sweet ‘n’ sour tang. There’s a lot of spice in its bubbles, which means I can’t put my head near it without coughing when it’s freshly poured, but after a few minutes I can drink it without a problem. It just needs to ‘sit’ for a while!

Booze Alternative: Pret A Manger Ginger Beer

It’s yet another ginger beer! We first found these in the Pret A Manger at Leeds train station, and Geth has been bringing them back for me from town ever since.

Pret A Manger Ginger Beer
Pret A Manger Ginger Beer.

This one is gorgeously sweet – probably the sweetest of the ginger beers I’ve tried so far. It does make me cough a bit with its spiciness, but it’s a lovely taste overall.

Booze Alternative: Belvoir Ginger Beer

Ginger ales and beers are going to be a bit of a theme for this series. I really like the taste, and am trying every single one I see in bars and shops, and there’s a lot of them.

In general, I’m finding that the beers taste stronger than the ales. Belvoir Ginger Beer is no exception.

Belvoir Ginger Beer
Belvoir Ginger Beer. I did drink it all before remembering to take a photo, which is probably a good sign!

This one is similar to Fentimans Ginger Beer in that it’s very tasty, but the spiciness makes me cough and so I can’t drink it too quickly. It’s lovely and sweet though!

Out on the town

I did my long run this morning instead of going to parkrun, as I won’t have time for a long run tomorrow. I’m getting used to the treadmill now, and it feels a lot more manageable for hours-long runs than pounding the pavements, especially seeing as I’ve got all these BBC4 music documentaries that I need to clear off the digibox.

After my run, I did a bit of tidying and then headed into town to meet up with Mum and Dad (and Geth, who’d been at a gaming tournament all morning). We had a couple of drinks (and I was gratified to find that ginger beer was available everywhere I went) and then went for a meal at El Torero, a tapas place that is one of my favourite restaurants in Newcastle. There’s lots of veggie options and the food is quite Slimming World-friendly (I just need to syn the oil they cook it in…and the cheesecake I inevitably have at the end!).

More adventures about town tomorrow.

OOTD 16th February 2019
OOTD: slightly dressier than usual! Scarf Marks & Spencer (2017), dress Polo Ralph Lauren (2018), tights Pamela Mann (2014), boots Clarks (2016).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tears For Fears – Change
Lewis Capaldi – Grace
Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Khalid and Normani – Love Lies
Halsey – Without Me
The Proclaimers – Throw The ‘R’ Away
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing
Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored
Martin Garrix and Khalid – Ocean
50 Cent – In Da Club

Booze Alternative: Britvic Ginger Beer

Over the last month and a bit, I’ve tried quite a few ginger beers and ales, and I’ve discovered that there are two things I prefer in this particular subgroup of beverages:

  1. A sweet and strong taste.
  2. Just enough spice to add nicely to the above without causing me to have a coughing fit while drinking it.

Britvic Ginger Beer, I have found, fits both criteria beautifully.

Britvic Ginger Beer
Britvic Ginger Beer.

I first tried this one in the bar at the Red Lion in Newburgh, where we were staying for Jen’s 30th birthday a few weeks ago. There was a bit of confusion, because the bar had both Britvic Ginger Beer and Britvic Ginger Ale, but according to the barman it was definitely the ginger beer that I had. Anyway, it was delicious, and so when we were in Leeds last Saturday night, I was delighted when Geth returned from the hotel bar with another bottle so that I could try it again.

It was still the tastiest of ginger beers, so I will continue to look out for it wherever I go!

Life without alcohol update: one month sober

Time, as ever, is flying, and in some ways it’s difficult to believe it’s been a month since I got sober. In other ways, it’s felt like a very long month indeed.

Sunshine

Mental health wise I’ve been keeping myself very busy during the day so that I don’t dwell on things too much, and I’ve got lots of things to do in the evening as well that help me to avoid thinking about missing drinking. I’m definitely not having the extreme mood swings that I always had when I was still drinking – things feel a lot more sedate in that respect – but I’m still experiencing generally low mood and depression most days, despite being on my full dose of antidepressants at the moment. The obvious next step is going back to therapy (it’s been tried in the past with mixed results), which I’ve been meaning to do for a couple of years. I’m very nervous about it, which is why I keep putting it off.

Sleep has been the biggest change. I’ve got into a new routine where I’m up early every morning so that I can work a roughly nine-to-five day, and this extends to weekends because my marathon training plan includes runs on both Saturdays and Sundays. I never used to be able to get up for anything unless I had an appointment or work deadline that I absolutely couldn’t miss, but I’m finding that, with my improved sober sleep, once my alarm’s gone I’m able to wake up quite briskly. This new pattern has also meant that I’m falling asleep straight away at nighttime, whereas I used to toss and turn for hours if I hadn’t had a drink and pass out into unrestful drunk sleep if I had.

While it’s nice to be sleeping a lot more efficiently, the dreams that go along with it are mental, and not in a good way just yet. I’m having a lot of vivid nightmares that wake me up in the middle of the night. The strange thing is that I go straight back to sleep. It used to be that when I got woken up by dreams, I wasn’t able to sleep again for several hours.

As for the day-to-day experience of not drinking, it’s mostly been evenings in the house where I’ve had to find alternatives. I’ve tried quite a few, some of which I’ve reviewed already:

Ginger beer, I think, will be my new go-to in the long term. It’s tasty, sweet, and spicy, and it feels special and celebratory without reminding me too much of alcohol (I’ve been finding that some non-alcoholic drinks are not a good idea for me as they set off the mental compulsions and behaviours I always had around actual booze).

I’ve not socialised much in the last month, as January is always quiet once Christmas is over. I went out to a restaurant with Geth, and the large array of non-alcoholic options on the menu was exciting enough that I didn’t feel as though I was missing out (so long as I kept my eyes off other people’s tables!). I also spent a weekend in Lancashire for a family gathering, where there were plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives (and several people doing Dry January), and although it was strange to sit in the bar of the inn where we were staying without having a drink, there were plenty more dry options to try, including more ginger beers.

The Six Nations also started this last weekend. I was a bit worried about it, because the Six Nations used to be synonymous with weekend benders (it’s a lot easier to deal with Scotland getting the wooden spoon YET AGAIN if you’re ten pints down). However, as Geth was just watching the games in the house (we’ve never really developed a rugby drinking cohort in Newcastle), I found it was manageable to pay semi-attention and keep myself busy on my laptop without reminiscing too much about the sweet, sweet crate of cider I always used to get through on rugby days.

The next month will include a few firsts – first gig since going sober (but not my first sober gig, ’cause I did actually go without drinking at the Culture Club gig in November due to having to run a half marathon the next day!), first sober weekend with parents in Newcastle (I hope their hotel bar, where we always spend a lot of time, has ginger beer), first sober visit to the in-laws, and maybe, possibly – if I’m brave enough – first sober club night. We’ll see.

I’ll do another sobriety update in a month’s time!