If you are in the mood this Christmas for refreshing pretty drinks that are not going to get you hungover or caught for drink driving, these are just gorgeous.

Cranberry and ginger ale cocktail 

  • 1 litre cranberry juice
  • 500ml ginger ale
  • 500ml lemonade
  • Limes, lemons, oranges
  • Ice (to serve)

Slice lemons, limes and oranges into segments and place into a 2 litre jug. Add the lemonade, cranberry and ginger ale. Stir gently, then leave to chill. Add ice when ready to serve.


Lychee and lime cocktail 

  • 1 tin lychees, including syrup
  • Juice of a lime
  • Mint leaves
  • Soda
  • Ice

Simply tip into a blender and whizz up, then serve.


Gingered apple juice

  • Carton of apple juice
  • Fresh ginger
  • Honey

Put the apple juice, honey and ginger into a pan over a low heat for half an hour or more, and leave to infuse. Serve hot.


Warm spiced lemonade 

  • 2 litre water
  • 235ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 500ml orange juice
  • 450g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

In a large saucepan, simmer the ingredients together until warmed through, and serve hot.


Non-alcoholic cranberry cider

  • 1 orange
  • 900ml cranberry juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2-inch piece of ginger
  • Sugar (to taste)

Use a vegetable peeler to peel two 3-inch strips off the orange, then juice the orange. Combine the juice, peel, cranberry, cinnamon and ginger in a saucepan and simmer over a medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. Add sugar (around 225g to 450g) if you like.


Low-alcohol Bentley

  • 25ml lime juice
  • 25ml cane sugar or syrup
  • 100ml fizzy (or still) water
  • 2 drops Angostura Bitters (note – this is alcoholic, but as it’s only used in infinitesimal amounts, it’s not classed as an alcoholic beverage)

Mix all the ingredients together and serve in a small tumbler.


Other suggestions

If you’re still stuck for inspiration, try a variation one of the following:

  • Sparkling elderflower, apple or grape juice
  • Orange and cranberry juice
  • Pomegranate juice with ginger ale
  • Virgin Sea Breeze cocktail




The Festive Season

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you say the word Festive? It might not be just booze, but it will feature in the mind’s eye somewhere.
The old values of peace and good will seems to have flown out of the window. The surge of rows, fights domestic violence and heartache that surrounds Christmas is frighteningly high. The Power of Love featured on one big Christmas advert, should certainly be at the forefront. But is it? I can only ever speak from my own perspective, and what I see is stress, financial meltdown, family feuds followed by booze fuelled recompense for all of that hassle.
It can be funny to see Auntie Flo getting a bit tipsy on the cooking sherry, and Mum being a liberal with the port jus, but having a head like a bag of spanners and a mouth like the inside of Ghandi’s flip flop because of enormous wine consumption wrapping presents on Christmas Eve, is hardly going to help with the business of Christmas Day, unless of course, as many I know do, drink some more and it just becomes a big blur.
This family scenario, coupled with the dreaded office parties is a recipe for so many unfestive times.
Posted on a public forum today, I will quote,
It was my work Christmas party on Friday. Am overnight stay in a hotel. To cut a long story short I ended up drinking way more than I should have done ( no excuse but job not going well and felt stressed being round work people) and someone from work ended up in my hotel room. I am ashamed to say I can’t actually remember what happened as I had a complete black out… But I do remember him trying to have sex with me in the morning and me pushing him off.His response suggested that we had already done it before earlier on.
This sadly, is far from unusual. The fallout for this woman will be epic, and her two children. The office party blackout.
So please, if you want to have a drink, be mindful and happy, not mindless and devastated by January.

Minimum Pricing

How will this affect the way we would drink?

I can only speak from my own area of expertise, that is women and mothers of the Middle Class persuasion with a dependence. The answer for them, is not in the slightest.

Apparently or so I glean through the twittersphere, this is to target the next generation. Where pray do the next generation come from? Perhaps  another planet of moderate drinkers who really don’t give two hoots about the price of booze because it’s a casual relationship that they have with it? Or a parallel universe where their parents never drink at home, and will have to seriously re-think going out to the pub once a week? Where do young people who binge and create anti social behaviour come from?

Is the next generation in their new found sobriety going to be cool with the fact that they may decide not to drink but their parents are going to need expensive care with illnesses that can be attributed to their drinking? Them not being able to afford to drink would certainly go towards these costs.

There is an old expression, look at the fruit then look at the tree. We baby boomers were encouraged by one and all to party hard, that greed was good, and we were all wimps if we couldn’t keep up with epic benders and do a day’s work after them. Learnt behaviour, peer pressure, and ultimately dependency and addiction.

Even though some of us have managed to stop drinking, there are many more who haven’t, and are paying the price of excess. We created a monster of binge drinking and Bridget Jones.

Are we not worthy of an expenditure or support now rather than later?

It would warm the cockles of my heart if the revenue raised from minimum pricing was put back into recovery care, but I very much doubt that will happen. The mainstream agencies are having their work decommissioned, and those of us who are free spirits are being regularly patted on the head patronizingly for doing such stellar work.

Let’s just tot up some of the fallout from alcohol misuse.



Cancers, various and if not fatal then costly to treat.

Early on set dementia

Accidents and Emergencies.

Domestic Violence, Relate and counselling.

Children in Care

Children being exploited using alcohol to lure them in.

Treatment for alcohol misuse.

MisDiagnosis of alcohol misuse.

Liver disease

When you start to add up the numbers, we are looking in the region of over £20 billion in cash, and millions of broken hearts.

Why does anyone think that minimum pricing will fix that?

Cause and Effect and Client Led Service.

They are the problem drinkers missed by government efforts to curb alcohol misuse – women, often middle-class and professional, who share a bottle of wine with a partner over dinner each night, putting their health at risk.

Unnoticed because they do not cause a social nuisance or public disorder, women who quietly drink three or more glasses of wine, or equivalent, a day increase their risk of breast cancer by up to half, research shows. Alcohol is known to increase the risk of several cancers, in both sexes, including bowel cancer. But breast tissue is thought to be particularly sensitive to its carcinogenic effects according to a review of research by Helmut Seiz, of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and colleagues. Women who consume one alcoholic drink a day have an increased risk of breast cancer of 4 per cent, in line with previous findings, based on an analysis of 113 studies involving 77,000 light drinkers. Among heavy drinkers, defined as three or more drinks a day, the risk is increased to 40 to 50 per cent.

Overall, alcohol drinking accounts for one in 20 cases of cancer in northern Europe and one in 10 in countries such as Italy and France, where drinking is more widespread among women. Breast cancer has soared in recent decades with new cases doubling since the early 1970s, partly driven by the rise in alcohol consumption. It is now the commonest cancer, with almost 49,000 cases and 12,000 deaths a year, despite affecting only one sex. However, it is less common than heart disease and strokes, which together kill 200,000 people a year – and alcohol is known to protect against these diseases.

In women, as little as one drink a week cuts the risk of heart attack and stroke by 36 per cent according to a 2007 European study. The upshot is that light drinking is overall protective – but heavier drinking is associated with rapidly increasing risks. Experts say weighing up these risks is a matter of personal choice. Although heart disease is more common, cancer is more feared. Women with a family history of heart disease may feel differently from those with a history of cancer. Three times more alcohol is now consumed per head as in the 1950s and it is estimated to cause 30,000 to 40,000 deaths a year. In addition to bowel cancer and breast cancer, there is also evidence that alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the liver, oesophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx. In total, scientists estimate alcohol causes 20,000 cases of cancer a year.

The authors of the latest study, published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, suggest the effect of alcohol on the breast may be hormonal by raising levels of oestrogen. But they show no acknowledgment of the fact that many people enjoy a drink which plays an important part in their social lives.

One glass Increases risk of breast cancer by 4 to 5 per cent.

Two glasses Increase the risk by 25 to 35 per cent.

Three glasses Increase the risk by 40 to 50 per cent.


This behaviour I see on a daily basis. So much money is being put into criminal led alcohol abuse, repeat offenders, the disadvantaged, street drinkers, which is awesome, but my women who are just the average ladies walking through the supermarket, hoping that none of the cashiers notice that this the fourth trip in a week for supplies of wine and vodka, and it’s still only Thursday.  These women are slipping through the net, for they have so much to lose with attitudes to alcoholism, status, reputation, respect and worst case scenario for all, their children. I receive no funding yet have a full diary. It is not black and white in this industry. At one end of the scale you have the wealthy who can easily afford private detox, in my area here in Harrogate, currently costing £3,500 per week,  if you are disadvantaged have no source of income can be treated freely via various charities, or my clients, who are tipsy’s in the middle. They can’t afford financially to take 8 weeks out of their lives for residential rehab and all that it entails nevermind time rich, nor can they take advantage of the free services. They are certainly not a minority group and deserve far more in terms of understanding and empathy. My clients are Britain’s hidden alcoholics. My work is marginalized for I am not in this business for awards, ticking boxes or squaring circles and attending strategy/system meetings. I cannot afford the time for pontificating for hours on end about the latest guidelines. The most successful recovery programmes are led by people just like me, who are actually in touch with the needs of clients. Our recovery rates have risen to over 85% after six months. Compared to the highest of 30% within the System, I think the figures speak for themselves. The time surely must come for client led agencies, and not by those who really have no clue at all.

The Recovery Quilt

Over the years I have been humbled by the goodness shown to me from many clients. Their gratitude always makes me feel a little shy though, and only a conduit to their inner strength to overcome one of the most powerful drugs on the planet.

However I have never been more overwhelmed than this. In recent times I have been providing face to face counselling for women only. Simply because I completely understand the addiction from their point of view.

Prior to getting so heavily involved with my practice here, I have spent many hours online helping addicts and problem drinkers from all over the globe. Technology can be heaven and hell, this has been heaven for me. I have connected people who I thought would empathize with each other. To this end, I received a very large parcel via UPS.  It is a quilt. So beautiful in it’s construction that I have really not been able to articulate, how much it means to me. There are over 200 hundred people who have signed little squares of fabric with thanks and inspiration, which then have been painstakingly gathered by one very special woman, who has stitched and sewn this beautiful piece of craftwork, just for me. Tangible, exquisite, and full of love and hope, the two most important words of recovery.

I thought I would share, it means the world to me.


Welcome to 50 Shades

50 Shades is a blog that is for anyone who thinks that they may have some problems with alcohol. I once did, in a spectacular style, that led to chaos and devastation for both me and my family. There will be zero tolerance on judgy pants or non compassionate posts.

Over the years I have always looked after women, but as time has gone on, it is glaringly apparent, that all the family are affected by problem drinking, so this blog will include them too, partners, parents and children.

We are about empathy and support. My work has always been with women and Mothers, but it has become very clear that many loved ones have no where to ask for help either.

I am transferring quite a lot of my posts from my website blog, this is a fresh page for those of us who have discovered, by embracing abstinence or moderation that Sobriety is the new Black! We want to help, I shall be posting useful links and information which will I hope give you all places to explore your feelings and opinions on this illness of secrets and lies.

Love Sarah