Stephen Parsons is an amateur rugby player and coach at Morpeth Rugby Club, a Northumberland County Council employee and a big fan of the Newcastle Falcons and he's giving up alcohol for a month - Dry January. If you want to join him in the quest, it's not too late to sign up and if you're taking part and having a wobble, his posts may inspire you to keep going.
New Year's Day to January 5: Wine and steins... for auld lang syne
So, I know you’re all asking - how did I get on?
Well, after pouring myself one last beverage for 2015 (a double Amarula cream liqueur) at 11.50pm on New Year’s Eve, I haven’t had an alcoholic drink since. Not a drop.
Spending the New Year with family in Liverpool could have been tricky but the folks have been very supportive of my mission to stay off alcohol for a month and be healthier. They all knew I was starting the challenge and from midnight onwards, I was only given soft drinks.
New Year’s Day was quiet. I spent the day keeping the young family members entertained with beachside walks and bowling, meanwhile a feast of a roast dinner was being made by my aunties.
Later, as we sat down to eat, a wine bottle was doing the rounds and I swiftly passed it on to avoid any temptation to pour a drink; I had coffee instead.
My family’s support really helped and on the drive home from Liverpool, I took some time to reflect on my booze-free mission and my determination to get through the first few days.
The first Saturday was always going to be the toughest day of the challenge. Newcastle Falcons were playing at home and that is a favourite day out for me. I very rarely watch a game at Kingston Park without indulging in a two-pint stein or two of Guinness.
Despite a bit of stick (actually, quite a lot!) from the regulars in the South Stand trying to tempt me to drink, I survived the day by drinking coffee and soft drinks.
Mind, it wasn’t easy. It was a day of celebration with the Falcons winning their first game of the season and just before the final whistle, I could see a hip flask coming along the row and heading towards me. Queue one of the quickest exits from the ground I have ever made - I dashed off delighted to have resisted, only to get stuck in the car park!
Overall, the first five days have been okay. I’ve had a couple of moments but I’ve been focused.
Quite a few of my teammates and friends have now noticed this blog and are supporting me on with the challenge and it all helps. I’ll do my best to stick to a Dry January and I’ll keep you posted via the blog.
I’m raising money throughout the month for the Children’s Heart Foundation(CHUF) at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and I'd really appreciate your support, you can donate to CHUF here.