Sarah at the Sanctuary

Sarah at the Sanctuary

The Musings of a Well Woman

Sanctuary Campaign for Change

My posse of women and I will be starting to pinpoint inappropriate positioning, of wine most especially, in all Supermarkets.

As consumers we all enjoy choice in this country, but more and more we have alcohol thrust at us from it seems every available angle. It’s put next to flowers, ready meals, dine in for two deals, and slightly more bizarrely, at the end of Health and Well Being aisles, feminine hygiene and baby food. It doesn’t though take a genius to work out why these particular genres are targeted. Wine is the biggest pull for women in this day and age. Acceptable, grown up, not a proper hardened drinkers drink, gentle and pretty. The women who will be involved in this campaign were not knocking back Jager bombs or getting legless on the streets and clubs, but slowly zoning out at home every evening on special offers at most supermarkets, or the stealth like cheeky numbers placed at the end of aisles which simply bear no correlation overtly to drinking too much.

Once we start to get reports back from my clients old and new, I shall tweet them, I hope too we have some visuals to prove the insanity of it all.  For if we compare alcohol to tobacco, now hidden behind dirty grey doors, to the damage caused by the former, is way more damaging, excessive and cruel to oneself and others now than the latter.

If any of my twitter followers would like to join in, that would be great, male or female!

Victory over Booze - So Inspiring.

With permission from this wonderful client, I think that this email I received yesterday totally encapsulates what Sacntuary women are all about. No smugness, no tambourine bashing, just freedom.

Day 42

I woke at 5 am this morning, looked around, then cried.

The tears were of utter relief and joy.  I used to think, oh God listen to that when someone spoke of a 'rebirth,' it even made me shudder and conjured up an image of the nutter with the sandwich board walking up and down the high street crapping on about Christ.

Today, on the 3rd of August 2014, at one of my favourite times of the year (my absolute favourite is Spring), I am feeling like someone new.  If i could really pat myself on the back I would.  (I'm off again and drippy nose is not the look I had envisaged for today).  Six weeks ago I was broken, plenty of shop front but knackered, old stock inside way past it's self by date rotting and stinking.

My 'friends' would rip me off for as little as a quid, had such opinions about me - shit! They knew more about me than I did!  They thought.

Well, this is not just a new broom, it's a golden broom, one that flies.  It swept and cleaned and dumped all the rubbish in a huge fire pit and now I am flying round on it,  'the new Witch Hazel'.  Sparkly and optimistic wearing a lighter suit, one with very tiny pockets so that I decide what goes in them.  they are not wide open and sagging any more ready for someone to pounce and make themselves at home before sapping me dry.

I really thought that I would have to make a positive effort to avoid these people and although I have only mentioned, when pushed, that I'm not drinking, the ones that I really could do without seem to have run for the hills in fear.   I am very flattered, the bastards knew what was inside the real me but loved to see me broken and lost, I think it's called 'Drawing attention to themselves, at the expense of someone else'.  See how they like being 'lost'.

Today I am going to take my youngest great niece to the pool, she really needs to be able to swim and I want to help her, rewind 6 weeks and by the time the pool was open it would have been time to open the wine,  No contest. Then.



Home Drinking & Self Medicating

My clients invariably are not social drinkers. They don’t go out to meet friends for a chat and a glass or two of Chardonnay, their drinking is usually at home, and most often alone. Weekdays especially.


This is not enjoyment drinking. It’s self-medication. There is no banter or sharing, purely a way of getting the hell out of Dodge, whether that is represented by unhappiness or the simple inability to break the habit. Wine is by far the easiest, if not the most devious, escape route there is. No raised eyebrows at supermarkets, you are faceless, no chance of standing out from the crowd, because most of the crowd that you know are making the same trip, to not use alcohol is unusual.

There is no seen or reported outcomes to this style of drinking. Quietly becoming stupefied in the comfort of one’s own home is de riguer for so many women over 35. Only a little later down the line physical problems may occur, but the emotional hurt and despair is rampant.

No thought goes into the process either. It’s normal. If attending a fitness class, or running a couple of miles that gives a natural high was as easy as opening a fridge door and unscrewing a bottle top, I am fairly sure that most women would do it. The buzz that way is too much effort, too inconvenient. Even if a visit to the gym has been slotted into the daily routine, more often than not, it will be followed by a couple of glasses of wine (three quarters of a bottle at 250ml a pop) to ‘relax’.

Am I saying women are lazy? No I am not. What I am saying, and I know this to be true, is that they are exhausted. Meeting the needs of their families and their work along with coping with financial stress and this endless pressure to appear to be all things to everyone has worn us down.

I listened to a great lady on Desert Island Discs on Saturday, an eminent scientist and mathematician, who was probably one of the first women I have heard admit publicly, that she could not have achieved her success if she had had children. She made a very conscious decision to put maximum effort into her work, as she said, with a driven and perfectionist personality such as hers, she would have had to have put similar effort into child rearing.

If we admit to being tired it seems to mean that we are inadequate. Being able to either zone out with alcohol, or get a quick lift from the first sip, just has become what valium was back in the 60s, Mothers little helper, without the necessity to go to the GP.

Children and work are difficult to balance, both are going to be with us for much longer than ever before. If we are lucky we are all living longer, but our responsibilities are with us for longer too. The middle aged women I see don’t drink for fun, they drink to cope, to keep up, and sadly the progressive nature of misusing alcohol is catching up in the most insidious way.


In the spirit of true liberation, whether it's from the Wine Witch or the Vodka Vipers, I have committed life and limb to a Sky Dive in support of the British Liver Trust, a charity which is very close to my heart.

Many might prefer me to jump without a parachute, but I shall be accompanied by both an expert, and apparently a video camera. In my emails to many of you I have banged on about fear being courage in action, and I am terrified, but am putting my words into practice. 


In the Declaration of Fitness which had to be obtained from my GP, it categorically states that those suffering from alcohol addiction cannot take part, so I think this is more confirmation that living life without the cage of booze simply has no boundaries, even for vintage broads like me!
So if you follow the link below to my Just Giving page to help the stellar work of the British Liver Trust, they and I would be enormously grateful for your support and kindness. We have to do whatever we can to de-stigmatise the whole subject of once drinking a bit too much, and change the taboo into a more honest and open conversation, and to show that life without alcohol is far from dull and boring!


Thank you very much, and to my clients, you are a constant inspiration to me.

Marketing & Myths Surrounding Wine O'clock


As more women are becoming alcohol free, and understanding that life, partially intoxicated by a cheeky little Pinot was really not the sparkly marshmallow world that the marketeers would have them believe, I have been making some interesting observations, and I really hope this blog will just blow away some myths.


First of all, just because supermarkets smother us with promotions and attractive pictures of how life will be if you drink, does not make it true or right.




This promotion is hardly indicative of a grocer is it? But it suggests that this enormous bottle of wine, not some crisp rocket or fresh brocolli would be the main reason you would do an online shop. Other supermarket items are just as heavy, milk, bottled water, or perhaps laundry powder. We seem to just accept that it's quite normal to encourage us to ditch any obstacle that might come in the way of home drinking and women particularly, I am sure the marketing department were not thinking of men when they came up with this image. So let's just put this into an appropriate place mentally. If you are going shopping the first thing on your mind should not be how much the wine is going to weigh, if it is then you must becoming concerned. This is not normal at all.


Secondly the constant battles that women I talk to do with their thoughts of how people will perceive them without a glass of wine in their hand. Rather than focusing on how nice it might be to meet up with old or new friends, chat about fun or serious stuff, the whole process of going out seems to focus on whether or not they will get some awful stick for not drinking alcohol. Hours can be spent getting worked up over this. If these people are really friends, what difference will it make to them whether you are imbibing or not? They like you for what you are not for how much you can drink. There is nothing dull about being able to string your words together without losing the plot, or having no recollection of what actually went on with the night or lunch. Being out of control in some quest to become more likeable is just madness. For the most part no one cares what you are drinking as long as you don't interfere with their habits, and anyone that does really isn't worth knowing. So all that time wasted on the what ifs of not drinking is just pointless.


Thoughts of being seen as a 'do gooder' really get my back up too. No disrespect to do gooders, but we are just being real without a crutch of alcohol, who should have a problem with that? None of us in my posse are trying to change the world, ban booze, but we are saying that we are quite enough without it, so now let's move on.


After 35 I am not sure where the good times come from with wine time. Most clients now drink at home, alone. Where is the fun in that? It's isolating and lonely. If your drinking revolves around socialising and being responsible, that's great, but I have not met that many women who have families and work commitments that are able to do that anymore. So they retreat into a world of sofa, tablet, teli and Pinot.


I am still amazed that so many people, especially women, are not more upfront about not drinking anymore. What's the problem? You have stopped hurting yourself, and possibly others, you are able remember everything you do, and more than likely are looking a 100 times better than you once did.

On the whole, people don't judge these days, they are all too embroiled in their own lives, why should it matter so much to others

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