Guest blog – Tina’s story

My lovely workshop “graduates” are hitting their milestones and some of them are even sending me their stories – thanks guys – we love stories and I am always humbled by the way people open their hearts and “share” at the beginning of our workshops.

All our stories around alcohol are different but by sharing our angst about the booze we can all become stronger – there is a great benefit to being open and honest and that is how we will change our relationship with alcohol – as well as inspire other people.

A couple of weeks ago I posted “Nick’s Story”, today it is Tina’s turn and “Jamie’s story” is in the pipeline – so watch this space!


Alcohol was my best friend, my go to strategy when feeling blessed, stressed or depressed.

I grew up with alcohol – from my first party at 14 to girls holidays in Ibiza – from countless afternoons in the wine bars of London with work colleagues to milestone birthdays in Vegas. It was fun, it made a good night out great and gave me unbridled confidence.

I always turned up for work – I worked hard and played hard – I never drank on Mondays and thought that meant my health wouldn’t be impacted because I often took breaks of 2-3 days, sometimes weeks at a time.

The years of partying continued into my late forties. But then thing started to change, I noticed it was taking longer and longer for me to reach that ‘buzz’ and even longer to recover from a ‘big night out’ or ‘legendary lunch’.

The hangovers were getting worse and the frequency of waking up not entirely sure what had gone on the night before were increasing (I now know these to be blackouts) I particularly didn’t enjoy the feeling of waking up and having to retrace my steps through bar and taxi receipts (let alone text messages).

My health was also suffering. I was bloated, had chronic indigestion, my skin was dehydrated and my diet was generally poor – the hangover days were fueled with carb and sugar frenzies.

I slowly started to resent how alcohol was dominating my social life. Days and nights out were built around alcohol – even going to the theatre had to involve pre, during and post show drinks.

Still I carried on consuming way over the recommended amount of 14 units (I mean who sticks to that, really?). It was normal to get plastered at the weekend- everyone drank as much as I did…. Right?

The problem was my conscience was nagging me. It wouldn’t let up. I had known for years that I drank way too much – I’d often thought about stopping but knew I needed help. I kept minimizing the adverse side effects and attempted to cut down on my own but that lead to drinking more and eventually my consumption began to negatively impact my relationships and so I decided enough was enough and last October I made the decision to quit.

It wasn’t an easy decision and it’s been a challenging journey but with the help of support groups I am looking forward to celebrating my one year soberversary.

A lot of people questioned why I would want to give up alcohol and now one year later I frequently get asked how I feel and have I experienced any benefits.

Truth is there are many benefits – I’ve listed a few below.

My anxiety has dramatically reduced

I can focus better

I stick to my commitments (like training for a half marathon)

My sight has improved and my skin is clearer

My face is not bloated or puffy

I don’t binge all day on pizza, crisps and coca cola

I listen to others instead of talking about myself all the time

I’ve not injured myself or anyone else

I’ve met some amazingly cool and fun sober people

I still party like its 1999 – I just remember everything and don’t lose the next day to a hangover.

If you’re thinking of quitting for 30 days, 100 days, a year, forever the best thing you can do is join a support group. I had stopped for a few weeks but was struggling, then I attended the World Without Wine Workshop in Cape Town. It helped me enormously.and now, 1 year later, I want to help others on their sober journey.

If I ever doubt my decision to quit I only have to ask myself this … is my life better or worse with alcohol…


The Mocktail Series: Series 1, Episode 5

In the last of our Mocktail Series Linda and Jorja tackle a “Mint Julep” – we hope you have enjoyed the series and will try out some of the recipes…


on the run…

WorldWithoutWine claims to be a “social network” so we are busy getting social.  Last Sunday some of us got physical and did the Spar 5k walk.  Zaida volunteered to do the admin although may not have realised at the time that this involved going to Philippi township to collect the goodie bags for the group.

It was June the chihuahua’s first visit to a township and she was quite intrigued – in the picture you can see her checking out the bags for dog friendly snacks.  Considering this event was supposed to be a “healthy” one it was surprising to see the amount of sugar filled drinks and snacks in the goodie bag.  They weighed a ton and thanks to everyone generously donating goodie bags to Red Cross Hospital Zaida had to gather them up again to deliver to the hospital.

Even though it had been billed as a “Ladies Walk” Husband announced he would be coming with..

In my mind I was expecting a few hundred people – in fact there were TWENTY FOUR THOUSAND people there so had to park miles away and had to walk about 5k to get the starting point.  Vague arrangements to meet “near MacDonalds” proved impractical as there were thousands of people “near MacDonalds” – all wearing identical t-shirts.  Husband’ mood was deteriorating by the minute and he kept asking me “what is this for?” – sadly could not remember what it was for so just told him to stop moaning.  Amazingly we managed to locate a few WWW ladies and joined the massive queue waiting to start.  After the long walk to get to the starting point – and then the 40 minute wait before we could start was pretty worn out before we began.  Husband perked up briefly when they played Gangnam Style at full volume but as soon as we hit the road he was looking for an escape route and soon legged it back home.  Think the next social event will involve sipping mocktails in a calm and quiet environment.


In other news there are three more workshops scheduled –  one in Cape Town on May 21st – then we are branching out to other locations –  one in Joburg on July 9th and another in Somerset West on 23rd July – more details here

Check out this TED talk from Glennon Doyle Melton who comes up with the analogy of addiction being like a comforting cloak – removing the cloak leaves one feeling raw and exposed – getting worse before it gets better – but it does get better  – love the title of her talk “lessons from the mental hospital” – check it out HERE

Finally to end on a green note a big thank you to Janis Theron who sent in 15 practical ways to save the planet  – link is HERE

Dry January Does Good!

Son and girlfriend were over from London recently so they came with us to Khayelitsha to help us make a little movie about how we are spending all that lovely money we raised from the Dry January Challenge. We went to one of the schools where Earthchild run their yoga classes where we were viewed with curiosity by the pupils.  Although white people are no longer a rarity in the townships white people with pink hair are not a common sight.  Son’s girlfriend now knows what it’s be like to be famous – in the pic she is being mobbed by kids who just wanted to touch her hair…

We made this film to thank our donors (thank you donors!) – Son had excellent idea to get a group of kids shouting “thank you” which somehow came out as “thank youuuuuuuuuuuu”  Here is a pic of us trying to get them ready for the shot – organised chaos would be a good description!

IMG_4519 (1)

Photo by Pinkgraphy

As you will see in the film which you can watch HERE we had a tremendous response to our Dry January Challenge.  The idea was that people would sign up to an alcohol-free January and donate the money they saved to a good cause – some people procrastinated so long about starting the long, dry month that they did a Dry February instead!  Shame for them it was a Leap Year 😉

In return for their donation I sent a daily e-mail to everybody that signed up – tips, inspiration and encouragement.  Got some lovely feedback from my mails which really seemed to help – plenty of people felt so good at the end of their dry month that they were going to continue and others felt it would be so much easier for them to “moderate” after a complete break.

The success of this initiative made me wonder if W0rldWithoutWine should offer the e-mail support to anyone who wanted to take a month off the Drink at anytime during the year.  We could call it the MOD (Month off the Drink) and it would start on the 1st of every month.  Let me know if you think that idea has legs…

We have some advice from Cate in our regular feature Cate’s Cache – you can read it HERE

That’s all for now – am going to leave you with another one of Pinkgraphy’s stunning photographs.


Dry January Challenge funds yoga in Khayelitsha

A big thank you to all our donors who gave up alcohol for  our Dry January Challenge and donated the money they would have spent on booze to Earthchild.  We raised R30,000 – 50% more than our target – check out the video to see how your money will be spent…

What is a Dry January Challenge?

Dry January is a custom of abstaining from alcohol for the month of January, particularly practised in the United Kingdom. The custom, as a formal entity, appears to be relatively recent, being described as having “sprung up in recent years” even in 2014.


Preparing to launch!

Even though sensible Husband has taught me to pretty much ignore Christmas I can sense the craziness building up around me – must stay vigilant as we head towards the Get Obliterated season.

Navigated another “AF first” last night at sober buddy’s annual “soiree” – this usually passes in a blur but this time was able to experience the delightful evening with full clarity – even noticed for the first time the extent of the fabulous garden – had to draw the line when invited to stay on later for “sober dancing” though..

Am keeping busy organising WorldWithoutWine launch – am delighted to confirm bestselling author Melinda Ferguson as our main speaker – I once confessed to Melinda that I felt a bit “lightweight” with my Sauvignon Blanc habit next to her Serious Smack habit but she wisely assured me that it was all the “same thing.”  We will also be joined by the fabulous photographer Fiona McCosh who has produced a beautiful “Sober & Sexy” calendar featuring 12 naked addicts – all now in Recovery.  Have to admit to having developed a soft spot for “May” so will be willing the first 4 months of 2016 to pass quickly.  If you are coming to our launch please bring R200 to buy a calendar – all proceeds to Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre.

The launch will take place in Issi on Bree – Chef Oatley has developed a delicious welcome drink for our lucky guests – Vanilla Strawberry Mocktail – see above.

We are also collaborating with the wonderful Earthchild NGO to set up a “Dry January Challenge” – we will be asking members to sign up for the challenge by redirecting their monthly spend on booze to Earthchild – every R200 they pledge buys a whole year of yoga classes for a child in Khayelitsha – watch this space for more details.

T-shirts are going to Elzane du Plessis, Lize Baxter and Rita Van Winkel who were among the first 10 people to join WorldWithoutWine.  Have been inundated with spam so have only selected names of people I know to add to the membership database.  If you joined (and are not a robot) then please send me a note to and I will check if you were in the first 10 and reply directly to you.

New content on website:-

*   Vicky’s View – Vicky shares her thoughts on grief and life beyond the loss of a child – read it here

*   Dr Jenny Edge – my interview with top cancer specialist on the link between alcohol and breast
cancer read it here

The comments section of my blog seems to be inhabited by robots these days – was replying dutifully until web designer Pinkgraphy gently pointed out that these comments were in fact “spam” – so this is a plea for some humans to outwit the pesky robots and post me a genuine comment – please!


New Beginnings

Facilitating World Without Wine’s first workshop was a humbling experience – a room full of brave and beautiful women opening their hearts about their relationship with alcohol – we reflected on the damage we do to our bodies as well as our friends and families and we looked at strategies to change our behaviour…

But most of all we bonded as a group and pledged to support each other going forward. All our stories around alcohol were different but by sharing our angst around the booze we all became a little stronger.

As one of the evaluation forms said “today has been amazing – everything I was looking for – the camaraderie and knowing other women are in a similar situation has given me the strength to change”

For the first time my dream feels tangible, my dream to build a community which will be:-

A place of warmth, wisdom and encouragement

A place where we can share ideas, compare notes and encourage each other

A place where we don’t judge, criticize or condescend

Interestingly all the participants were female and I am now wondering whether to limit attendance of future workshops to women – I even came up with a new name – “Women on the Wagon” – the WOW workshop – what do you think bloggees?

Send me your thoughts… would also like to change “workshop” to something less corporate but brain seems to be dead at the moment…

Send me your comments and the best ideas will win a World Without Wine t-shirt!

We also had a “tasting” of non alcoholic drinks at the workshop and Kombucha was the hot favourite!

You can now find a “membership form” on the website. Offering membership is in line with our goal to build a community – advantages of membership are that you will receive a weekly e-mail with latest alcohol related information plus tips to cut down. We will also give members a discount on workshops and recovery coaching sessions. Early next year our site will become “interactive” meaning that members will be able to join chat rooms, post their own blog etc..

Membership is free and you can be anonymous. The first ten members will get a World Without Wine t-shirt!

We have the first of a regular feature on the site called “Cate’s Cache” – Cate is a fantastic masseuse and if you are lucky enough to live in Cape Town then she will come to your home and massage you. Her tip this month is “home care for headaches” and you can find her under “Features”.

Now the first workshop is over (next one on January 23rd) am busy organising the World Without Wine official “launch” and tasting event. We have been contacting manufacturers of non-alcoholic drinks and they are keen to work with us. Have booked fabulous venue “Issi on Bree” for 10th December for this event. If you would like to come just contact me for an invite.

Tomorrow I am interviewing top breast cancer surgeon Dr Jenny Edge on the link between breast cancer and alcohol so watch this space!

Looking forward to your comments!

Smacked, Hooked & Crashed!

Melinda Ferguson is not a lady who does things by halves – as perhaps you can tell by the title of her three books.  As the title would imply “Smacked” is the story of Melinda’s downward spiral into addiction as she became hooked on heroin and crack cocaine – losing her children, marriage and career on the way.  With heartbreaking honesty she takes us on a long and painful journey to her “rock bottom” and finally  into Recovery.  Her next book “Hooked” takes us through her post addiction addictions as she manages to stay clean.  They range from Oprah, to 12 step meetings, to men and to Facebook.  In a world that focusses too much on Addiction and not enough on Recovery Melinda shows us just what it takes to come back from the brink and to stay clean.  Her new book is called “Crashed” and begins with a car crash.  Melinda being Melinda we are not talking about pranging the family BMW here – Melinda managed to write off a brand new Ferrari!  Superbly written as ever Melinda navigates her way out of a cul-de-sac of trauma, scandal, betrayal and near financial ruin.  The book is launched at Cavendish on 27th October and at Cafe Issi on 3rd November when WorldWithoutWine has been promised an exclusive interview – email me at janet@worldwithoutwine with any questions for Melinda.

Sober buddy Charles sent me this quote:-

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

Wise words written by Seneca (Roman Philosopher 4AD – 65BC) over 2000 years ago

Charles also announced we needed a “boy perspective” on worldwithoutwine so check out “Recovery Rocks” section for the story of a young guy in his twenties who has just completed a year without booze – well done to him – I have another seven months to go until my first Soberversary – what a party I will have!

One of the constant dilemmas us Soberistas have to cope with is “What the F*** do you drink if you don’t drink?” – well I have discovered @kombucha – not only is it delicious but it appears to be good for you – check out Features for “7 reasons to drink Kombucha every day” – wonder if they would like to sponsor worldwithoutwine?