30 days alcohol-free: day 11

Day 11 of my 30 days with no alcohol. (I started on 31 May, and it’s 30 days, not #noboozeJune.)

So I survived Saturday, a day I’d normally have several drinks, and Sunday, when we had a pub meal with friends. Everyone else was happy because they had a designated driver. I wondered if I’d feel like I was missing out when everyone else was drinking. I didn’t. It didn’t bother me one little bit. I didn’t pay any attention to the fact that other people were drinking and it was no problem at all. I was a bit surprised by this.

There was no Farm Bar to taunt me on Sunday, and the next day I was back to school nights. The only potential for slipping during the past week was on Thursday, when we went to the winter garden party at Willow Court that was held in conjunction with the opening night of Dark Mofo. There were several local beverage producers on site. I wasn’t super-tempted when we first got there, but then our night was unexpectedly cut short, so any opportunity for me to fail in this challenge was gone.

I’m now one-third of the way through my first challenge, and am about to start on my first more introspective challenge. I’ll be posting my thoughts on the book that has inspired this challenge over the weekend, and then a post about what I’m thinking the challenge will look like before I start it on the 15th.

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30 days alcohol-free: day 5

Day 5 (4 June): 30 days alcohol-free is the first of a series of 30-day challenges that will make up my #steppingonthecracks project. I’m starting out with a small habit change that shouldn’t take a lot of time to do, and next week I’ll start getting ready for the first substantial challenge.

So first up, a month without alcohol. The first three days weren’t too bad. I’ve been trying, not always successfully, to make weekdays alcohol-free days, mainly because I found that drinking on a school night was contributing to me staying up way too late. This would throw me out the next day, make me more tired and had started to become a pattern that was self-reinforcing.

Weekends I expect to be harder because my habit is to have a few drinks those nights, stay up a bit later and take things a bit easier. Sundays have traditionally been Farm Bar days, which probably would have been agonising. Lucky for me they’re on a winter break.

I survived my first Friday quite easily in the end, despite Slabs returning from a work trip with some tempting products. They’ll be all the better when I’ve had to wait a few weeks for them!

Now for Saturday. Four days down, 26 to go!

 

Monday 30 May 2016 – The project begins

1 June is the start date for my 30 days project, where I’ll be exploring a range of new ideas and habits for 30 days to see what works for me and what doesn’t. As I explained in my last post, the challenges will be a mix of simple habits and more detailed explorations into different topics that interest me and that I’ve collected over the past few months with a vague intention of acting on. The plan is that I’ll have one easy habit and one big idea on the go at any one time, and I’ll start a new challenge every two weeks or so.

I decided to start off with an easy habit for the first month, which is 30 days without alcohol. I’m not sure that “easy” is quite the right word, but it’s something I should be able to do without having to think too much or upset my routine. (This was deliberately timed to happen when Farm Bar is closed for the winter. Say no more.)

Consider it Dry July in June. I’m actually starting today. I had my last beer for a month last night. Slabs bought it for me last week.

IMG_6765
This was 10% alcohol. Very intense!

I don’t really know what to say about this challenge.

I do have a couple of alcohol-free nights each week, but I can’t remember the last time I went for a whole month without it. Probably when I was pregnant! Nine months in fact. About this time ten years ago come to think of it. I think the key to this challenge is to be aware of the times I do drink and have something to replace it with ready to go if I get the feeling that it’s beer o’clock.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be planning the first challenge that is based on ideas and thinking.

I think I know what I’ll be doing, but I want to let the ideas develop before I commit anything to writing.

I also decided that I needed a name for the project. “The 30-days project” doesn’t have much of a ring to it. So thinking about some activities I did and some a-ha moments I had at a retreat a couple of weeks ago, I came up with the title “stepping on the cracks”. I realised that whenever I try to draw something, it tends to be straight lines, and that I colour within within the lines and that this art could be seen as a reflection of my personality. I once, when asked to do a doodle drawing, observed the following:

The idea was to draw a shape and split it into sections and doodle or make our mark. I noticed everyone else did round shapes – spirals, circles, ovals, abstracts. I did a triangle. Perhaps that says a lot about me – straight lines and angles. Left brain rules. It also included the words “Don’t step on the cracks” and “Stay within the lines”.

I think I was very dryly reflecting on myself with those two phrases rather than seriously instructing myself to comply with those rules. Anyway, very long story short, being straightlinesgirl is all perfectly OK and isn’t something I need to “fix” BUT there’s nothing stopping me drawing curves or swirls or colouring outside the lines or making a mess. So I think what the project is all about is being who I am, but not letting that prevent me from doing anything else (which was principle number 1 that I wrote about last time) – and seeing what happens when I step on the cracks and colour outside the lines.

Day 12: Dunedin days

Day 12: Dunedin days
Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin, New Zealand


Dunedin. I love it. I’m currently sitting here drinking my very last Wanaka Beerworks Cardrona working out how I can stay here and not go home.

OK I know that’s not going to happen.

We had a great day. This is the only place apart from Christchurch that we haven’t been part of an endless stream of tourists. In fact we probably stand out because we are tourists!

Our first activity this morning was the Otago Museum. It was really cool. There was so much we didn’t see that we would have loved to have seen and could easily have spent the whole day there. Our main focus was the kids activity area, with a lot of interactive science things that Kramstable (and we) loved.

The main attraction was the butterfly enclosure, which was the only part of the museum we had to pay to get into. It’s a 30 degree tropical house (so not that much warmer than the outside temperature today) with heaps of butterflies and some small birds.

One of the highlights was the release of some of the newly emerged butterflies. When they emerge from their cocoons, they sit for a while until their wings dry so that they can fly. We saw quite a few newly emerged butterflies in the incubation house. The staff in the butterfly house check them over and then if they’re ok, put them into a basket and release them at various times during the day.

After the heat got too much for us, we went back to the main part of the museum and had a look at some of the exhibits about the Maori and the other people of the Pacific. Some of the other highlights were the Sir Edmund Hillary exhibit and the World War I nurses exhibition. Two hours was definitely not enough.

The museum is close to the Otago University, which had been subject to the threat of a mass shooting today, so there was an increased police presence in the area, but most people seemed to be going about business as usual. I think the bigger concern would have been high temperatures and forecast strong winds, and the associated fire risks.

After our museum visit we headed out to the Otago Peninsula to Larnach Castle. It’s very cool. It’s New Zealand’s only castle – technically not a castle but a manor house – apparently it was the thing in those days to make your home took like a castle, which is what William Larnach did in 1871 when he built this place.

It’s now owned by the Barker family, who have restored it and opened it to the public – all the entrance fees go towards maintenance and further restoration. It’s a fascinating place, and Kramstable was really excited to be here because he’d never been to a castle before.

It’s a great building and the views from the tower are wonderful. The gardens are also amazing, very well maintained and there’s even an Alice in Wonderland section. We had lunch in the Ballroom Cafe; the Ballroom was built by Mr Lanarch for his one of his daughters for her 21st birthday.

After lunch we drove back to Dunedin (a drive with spectacular views) to have a look at Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street. With temperatures at 26 degrees we decided we weren’t going to climb up to the top. Just looking at it was exhausting, so we headed back to the motel.

It then cooled down abruptly. A bit of time to wander around the city and take photos of the beautiful buildings (in the rain, which hopefully assisted the fire fighters). Oh and call into the Green Man Brewery.

We had dinner at a Scottish restaurant called Scotia, which was a definite improvement on last night’s dinner. I wish we could stay longer in Dunedin, but it’s not going to happen this time. I know now that I have to come back!

Day 11: On the road again

Day 11: On the road again
Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin, New Zealand


We left a very cold Te Anau in the morning to arrive in a very warn Dunedin mid-afternoon.

We took the 94 hghway back to Mossburn, where the turn off to Queenstown is, and continued through Lumsden (where we had coffee), Gore and Balclutha, where we stopped for lunch. We stopped at a cafe, where the meal prices were pretty much the same as pub lunches, the meals weren’t as good and there were more pre-school children in the room.

Leaving Gore we finally lost sight of the snow-topped mountains that we’d been seeing for the past week. Where it seemed unreal to be seeing them for the first time last Monday, it was kind of strange to leave them behind today.

We arrived in Dunedin at about 3.00 and checked in to the motel. Where we are is just outside The Octagon, has a lounge room and two bedrooms, much to Kramstable’s delight.

We went for a walk and it felt weird. Everywhere else we’ve been has been over-run by tourists. Dunedin is a much bigger place with a lot fewer tourists, and I felt really obviously out of place. It’s also only the second place on our while trip we’ve seen someone smoking.

We found a nice old bar that had beer on hand pumps, and the owner’s young daughter came over to Kramstable and offered him some toys to play with. We tried a couple of beers we hadn’t had before and then headed back to the motel before going out for dinner. All I’ll say about that is since when do you have to pay extra to get real Parmesan cheese on a pasta dish.

We’re looking forward to exploring the city some more tomorrow.

Day 8: Freaking out in Queenstown

Day 8: Freaking out in Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand


Queenstown is beautiful, but mega-touristy. It reminded me of Strahan but times 100. We got petrol. It cost $112 to fill a 70 litre tank. I’ve never paid more than $100 for a tank of petrol before. Eeep!

We had a list of cool things that might be fun to do today. We’d already checked out the gondola and luge last night, and decided that was one thing we had to do. We weren’t sure how the weather would hold up, so we thought we’d do that first. It was a fairly short walk from our motel to the gondola station, where we bought tickets for the gondola and 10 luge rides – which was actually cheaper than getting nine rides. We figured we’d sort out who would do what rides once we got up there.

The gondola ride was pretty cool. Great views of Queenstown. We had coffee at the top before heading over to the luge. We had to pick out our helmets first and then jump on the chairlift to the top of the hill where the luge started.

When you go on the luge, you have to start off on the blue track, which is the scenic track that is suitable for anyone over 110 cm. Kramstable and I could do this one! Before your first ride you get some instructions on how to manoeuvre the luges, so that you have a vague idea of what you’re doing before heading off down the track. It was heaps of fun!

We did two runs together (sort of) on the blue run, then Kramstable and I did a last run on the blue (he was too short for the red run), while Slabs braved the red run. We generously decided to let him have our last ride on the red run, while we had a walk around and found a photo vantage point along the run. We then spent a seriously stupid amount of money on photos of us on the luge because we couldn’t take any ourselves, and it’s not like we’ll be back any time soon to do it again. (This excuse can justify anything!)

Back down the hill (mountain?) on the gondola and onto the Fear Factory – New Zealand’s scariest haunted house – which Kramstable had been looking forward to all trip and way before we even left. He and Slabs had been onto their website and found out everything about it. It was pretty much all Kramstable had been talking about since he’d found out about it. He was so excited! I was pretty much terrified that I’d be the one to call “chicken” and be pulled out and wasn’t even sure I wanted to go in.

However, I wasn’t going to let a 9 year old defeat me, so I took a deep breath and went in. It was pretty cool. I think being at the back was an advantage because the horrors that sprang out got Slabs, who was in the lead, first. I say no more. Go do it yourself. Kramstable was terrified. We survived.

We had lunch at the Atlas Beer Cafe because beer. It has a hand pump. It has nice beers and does good food.

After lunch we went to the XD Dark Ride, which is two different experiences – a 3D roller coaster where we went through a canyon and I hate rolller coasters so why the hell did I agree to do this, and a 3D Zombie killing game (Kramstable picked the game from a choice of three), and yours truly is such an awesome zombie shooter that I won. It might be the first time I have, or will, ever win a shooting game, so you need to mark this day somewhere.

Finally (exhausted and dreading the credit card bill) we went to the Odyssey Sensory Maze, which we’d found out about last night. That was heaps of fun and really cool. If you like balloons and mirrors you’ll love it!

During the afternoon I managed to get some updates on the AFL grand final. Two years overseas on Grand Final day, two wins to the Hawks. Where am I going to go next September to keep the winning steak going?

We had a really nice Malaysian dinner at Madam Woo (fabulous laksa), found the perfect tacky souvenir and headed back to the motel room to read the Famous Five with Kramstable.

Day 7: Queenstown

Day 7: Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand


Wanaka, like Greymouth, was a stopover on the way somewhere else, but somewhere I could quite happily have spent more time. Today we had to get to Queenstown, which was only about an hour away, for another two-night stay.

Our motel had the worst design feature ever: a window in the wall between the bed and the bathroom, so if anyone goes into the bathroom in the middle of the night and turned the light on, it wakes sleeping people up. What were they thinking?

We had breakfast in the motel cafe, and then checked out. We went for a walk by Lake Wanaka, and Kramstable found the playground.

Slabs’s workmates told him we had to go to Arrowtown on our way to Queenstown, so that was our first stop. The views on the road down the mountain were spectacular, and we could see Queenstown in the distance. It was like coming into our Queenstown except the town was further away, the hills were higher, there was snow and there were trees! Stunning drive.

It’s a cute little gold rush village with lots of little boutique shops and cafes. We’d heard there was a brewery there, but couldn’t find it. We asked someone in the shop where we thought it should be, and she said there had been a brewery but it had closed and the owner had moved to Invercargill. So to the people who maintain the http://www.beertourist.co.nz website, it needs an update!

The lady in the shop said if we like craft beer we should go to the Fork and Tap Ale House up the street, where you can do tasting. For $14 you can choose four of the 17 craft beers they have on tap in a tasting paddle. Four from 17! How tough a choice!

For the record my beers were:
Hefe by Tuatara (Bavarian Wheat Beer – 3 stars)
Dr Funk (a very citrussy sour beer by Doctors Orders and Funk Estate – 4 stars)
Old Ale by Tuatara and Pomeroys (a joint brew – 3.5 stars, very bitter)
A Great Justice Coconut Porter by Kereu (yum! 4 stars)

After lunch we drove the final 12 kilometres (I think) to Queenstown, found our motel amongst the throng of tourists that were all over the streets, and settled in for an afternoon of washing. The motel has great views over Lake Wakatipu, which is probably the best thing going for it. Basic as it is it’s clean and seems relatively quiet.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for the forecast rain to hold off (again) so that we can do some fun outdoor things, as well as some indoor things that Kramstable is looking forward to, including a haunted house, which he’s been talking about all trip.