My Not So Secret Diary

Relationships in Lockdown

Relationships in Lockdown article from Sky News about coronavirus lockdown and relationships writing about it for my sobriety blog, My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I read an interesting article this week from Sky News called, “Coronavirus: The psychology of why lockdown is making our relationships stronger.”

Obviously things are different for us all at the moment, whether we are in lockdown, or self-isolating too. Regardless of whether we are alone at home or with our families, and even if we are still working, we are all limited in who we see and how much contact we have with others. Whether we want it to or not, and however positive we try to be, it is affecting us all.

I was concerned that at a time like this, it would isolate us all more. I am not saying it is easy for anyone, even those who live with other people, because no-one is used to living so closely. I live and work with my husband and yet spending twenty-four hours a day with each other is more than either us of are used to, except for holidays and at Christmas. Of course we also have the four children and the dog at home with us too. It’s a full house, and we are just lucky that we have space, otherwise I think we’d be finding it harder. I thought we’d have more arguments, and to be honest things are okay, although I do get a bit ratty when I end up doing ‘my washing’ or other jobs around the house and everyone else mysteriously disappears!

The lockdown itself has managed to push the fast forward button on many people’s relationships. At least two couples that we know have gone from being fairly serious to living together in this situation and I can’t say I blame them. It must be hard to be distanced from those you care about for an unforeseen length of time. But, we must also remember how lucky we are to have the technology we have available nowadays. Although we might not be able to see others, we can invite them into our homes using our phones and iPads. My eldest son is very social, and was seldom home before the lockdown in the evenings. To start with I think he thought his Dad and I were overreacting by asking him not to go out, and so for us the lockdown actually helped. He suddenly saw it was real and although unfortunate, it was necessary. If it wasn’t for social media he and his friends would be totally disconnected, but instead they are with him all the time, via his phone in his pocket. He goes up to his room in the early evening to chat with them too, and I think it’s nice that those connections haven’t been lost. It would be horrible for him otherwise.

Adding on to the change in lifestyle at the moment, we also have the differences with visiting the shops and the fact that many people, like us, are shopping for others too. I thought I’d have more free hours in the day, but once we have queued up, waited to get in, trailed up and down and then queued to get out again, a trip to the supermarket can take me more than two and a half hours. I’m glad I only do it once a week!

The thing is, that beyond the other things, I do seem to have more time to talk than before. This morning for instance, instead of rushing about like I would normally, I found the time to FaceTime my Mum and Dad, which I don’t often do. This morning they watched Stanley cycling in circles around my house and then took me on a tour around their garden to show me what they’d been planting and their new chicken run. It was rather nice. Stanley even wanted to show them how he uses his potty! They’d certainly have missed out on that experience otherwise! Speaking to a friend yesterday, she echoed my thoughts, telling me that she is finding time to do different things and see people that she wouldn’t normally, although again, it’s from a distance when she drops items off. I think it’s nice to have an excuse to connect with people. A lot of us lead quite isolated lives nowadays and this lockdown has affected us in ways I hadn’t expected. The article says, and I tend to agree, that, “Being increasingly interdependent and uniting together against the invisible enemy outside our doors may well make us appreciate one another more than ever.” I actually like being asked to help, although I’m not very good at asking for it myself! I like being able to do things to help. It makes me feel useful, and while I know there are a lot of people out there on the front line doing more than me, it’s nice to think I am doing my part at least.

Take care, and thank you for reading.
Claire x


Here’s the link to the article if you’d like to read it.

No Cap

No Cap
I’d always seen alcohol as a reward - you know the sort of thing, where you get home from work and chill out with a nice cold glass of wine. All the adverts and TV programmes show it like that. A welcome relief to a hard day. I do, and always did work hard you know - I’ve got four kids and a job, a house to keep running and all kinds of other things going on. The problem for me is that one glass was never, ever enough.

I had a conversation with one of my younger sons recently and he told me that he never intended to have a ‘problem’ with drinking or drugs or anything like that, he and his friends just wanted to enjoy but not get carried away. I laughed. His innocence surprised me and I told him so. Once I’d stopped laughing, I even asked him, “Who on earth would choose to have a drinking problem?” I certainly didn’t go looking for one. It wasn’t like something I decided so went shopping to fulfil my need. It crept up slowly and infiltrated every area of my life before I even knew it was there. There was no choosing and no real awareness. Once I was a ‘normal’ drinker, and then I wasn’t. It could happen to anyone.

My husband describes my drinking as not having a cap. I think it’s quite a good way of describing it. I loved the idea of having a drink, whether it was in the evening at home or on a night out. I looked forward to it, almost idolising it. It’s just I couldn’t stop once I got started. One glass was never enough. Well, it might have been in the very early years, before I worked my tolerance up. After that it took a few glasses to even begin to feel something. So I had to drink more, although I will admit, that once I had poured that first glass, and could see it on the side in the kitchen, I relaxed, just a little bit. It wasn’t as good as drinking it, but it was good knowing it was there.

The problem with having no cap is that it ruins things. You don’t realise, or at least, I didn’t realise how drunk I was until it was too late. There were times I prided myself on being able to carry on regardless, especially when we were out. I always found a way to keep going and I have far more stories than I’d like about the many occasions I drank too much. There’s probably far more stories about the times I don’t remember.

I thought I hid it so well. I didn’t. It’s embarrassing now to think of how many people probably knew of my problem, or at least knew I drank too much, before I did. I thought drinking made me the life and soul of the party, I was fun, I was uninhibited. I talked and chatted to people I couldn’t have done before I had a drink, and yet, it wasn’t really me was it? If it was I would have been able to do it without the drink. I came to rely on it to get by in social situations, only in the evening mind you, but of course, the more I drank, the more I needed to drink and the situation got worse. At a Christmas works party, years ago now, I thought I was entertaining, I thought I was doing a great job talking to the guests and making them feel welcome. It wasn’t until I’d spilled a glass of red wine down my (thankfully black) dress, that I cottoned on to the fact people weren’t laughing with me so much as at me.

More often that I would like, perfectly good nights out (or in) were ruined by my inability to know when I had had too much to drink. I never knew it was coming until it was too late, and I would probably have told you that you were wrong if you tried to warn me. I always knew best, and I did like my wine. Most people learn from their experiences, I struggled to do that. Often after a heavy night out, waking up with a sore head would have been reason enough to take a break for a day or two at least, but not me. I saw slowing down as a weakness, as a reason to admit I was drinking too much. So I didn’t. I got up, brushed myself down and carried on where I had left off. It wasn’t so much ‘hair of the dog’ as I didn’t drink in the day, except for Sunday lunchtimes occasionally when we were out for lunch, but taking a day off was not something I did.

As you may know, stopping for me didn’t happen quickly. I didn’t wake up one day and realise. I woke up on a lot of days and realised, and then I had a lot more days after that where a I needed to convince myself. But I did get there eventually. I stopped relying on something that I never thought I could live without. I still have fun, I still relax and do nice things, only now, I am less likely to make a fool of myself, and more likely to remember. Ah, who am I kidding? I do still make a fool of myself sometimes, but the difference is, I’m never drunk when I do it anymore!

I can safely say it is a huge relief to me right now not to need or want a drink. I’d be finding lock down so much harder if I had the wine witch on my shoulder too. It’s a funny old time, so taking the stress out of it where we can is good.

But enough about me, how are you all coping at the moment?

Take care, and thanks for reading.
Claire x


When Not Drinking is Wonderful

When Not Drinking Is Wonderful the view from my garden in Cornwall during the quarantine and lockdown, not-drinking sobriety blog by Claire Hatwell My Not So Secret Diary
The view of the sky from my garden.

I no longer have the need inside me longing for for a glass of wine. It used to be there constantly, a little feeling that wouldn’t go away, a voice that made me feel uneasy until I’d had a glass. It was really the only way I could relax, not in the beginning when it was still fun, but definitely towards the end when I’d been steadily drinking for years.

I’m sitting in the garden now as I’m writing this. The sun is shining and it’s warm. I can here some kids playing a few houses down, but there isn’t much noise because of the quarantine. My little man Stanley is playing in a water tray with some boats, he says his boat, “is very happy”. My big boys Joe and Barn are helping their Dad barbecue. I like to advise from a distance, but I don’t tend to get too involved! Katie is creating artwork somewhere, but she’ll be down soon to join us. It’s a very different picture to the one it would have been a few years ago.

I would never have been this content. I would have had an insatiable thirst for wine. I would have made countless trips to the house for wine refills. Lee may have had a few beers but he wouldn’t have had many. Towards the end, it wouldn’t have quite hit the spot for me in the same way. It as like an itch that couldn’t be scratched. I would have told myself, “one more glass”, but it would have always been more. I couldn’t have felt content and I wouldn’t have been able to relax until I’d had my fill.

I didn’t have an off switch when I drank and I drank often. I couldn’t stop when I should have. It was never enough until it was too much, and then I would have struggled with my concentration, my memory and my patience. Nothing would have been the same. I struggle now when I remember or when I think of how much time I’ve wasted. Of times that should have been good and were spoiled. I can’t get any of the time I lost back and worrying about it or beating myself up about it won’t change anything except for perhaps making me feel worse.

All I can concentrate on is what I do going forward. That’s all anyone can do really isn’t it? So I’ll enjoy this sunny moment in the garden, hearing the birds and listening to the kids and Lee chatting as they cook. I can honestly say, I don’t need wine to make this moment any better.

Thank you as always for reading.
Claire x


Not Going to Spain

Not Going To Spain view from my airplane window on the way to Spain last year. Sobriety and recovery blog and mental health, called My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
A view from last year. I don't think we'll be seeing one like it again for a bit.

The kids are missing out on so much this year, and I don’t just mean my kids, all of them are. No matter what their ages, they are all a little bit stuck.

I’ve always promised mine that if I did something for one of them, that we’d do it for all of them. As they were so close in age, I’m talking about the older ones, it only seemed fair. There are only four years between the eldest and youngest of the three of them. None of them had music lessons as we couldn’t commit to so much on a termly basis for all of them. For the same reason none of had the opportunity to go on school ski trips. We did, however, make sure they all went on the year 8 Paris trip when they were twelve with their college and had anticipated the year 10 Spain trip too.

It was hard letting Katie go to France. Her trip was a very short time after the terrorist attacks in Paris. We thought about it long and hard and a lot of her friends pulled out, but we decided she should still go, especially as the trip hadn’t been cancelled. You can’t predict these things and without taking undue risks, if we all worried about everything, we’d never go anywhere. There are more and more acts of terrorism nowadays and many of them happen here in the UK, so unless we aren’t going to go out, we must take calculated risks occasionally.

I find it hard to let the kids go, but I’ve got more used to it as they’ve got older. It’s probably easier as they’ve got older to be honest as they’ve been able to stay in phone contact. When they were younger, probably around ten, they all went to London with their primary schools, and they weren’t allowed any contact home unless it was an emergency. So that made it harder. Mind you, I had several texts from Barney when he was in Paris two years ago, panicking because he had accidentally smashed his iPhone. He was so worried I’d be cross with him! I’m still not sure quite what happened to it though.

It’s been good, but coincidentally, because the kids are two years apart, they’ve always been offered the same residential trips. The school alternates them, so if they were in the year inbetween they would have been offered Italy instead of Spain. That would have opened another can of worms I am sure! I do like to keep things fair for them!

This year is different. Barn has been looking forward to going to Spain. They moved it forward slightly so he’d be back for his fifteenth birthday which is at the start of the summer. Joe and Katie both missed the end of school to go away which was a bit strange for them. Of course though, with everything that is going on at the moment, I can’t see it going ahead. It hasn’t been officially cancelled, nor have we had any word of whether we will get our money back for it. But school isn’t on at the moment, so I don’t see them taking a whole year group abroad even if everything is back to normal in a few months. It’s sad that he is missing out and I do feel disappointed for him, but to be honest, realistically I think even if it was to go ahead, I wouldn’t want him to go. It’s a shame there is so much to miss out on, but I do want to keep everyone safe, and for me, that means keeping us all at home as much as we can at the moment. The year seems to be on hold, at least for now. I hope that we’ll get the chance to do some nice things next year, but as long as we stay safe, at least we should have the opportunity to.

Take care everyone and thank you for reading.
Claire x


There’s Always Someone…

Theres Always Someone walking with my family during the coronavirus exercise out of doors and getting some fresh air in Cornwall. My sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
Lee and Stanley walking with our dog Miley.

We all know things are different at the moment. I don’t really go out much to be honest, I’d prefer to be at home, safely in the garden where we hopefully can’t catch anything. At times though it’s nice to stretch our legs and go out for a walk, or brave the supermarket if we have to. I don’t enjoy that at all though!

Walking is an interesting one. The lockdown seems to have encouraged so many people out. It can only be a good thing really, but I swear I’m seeing people that I didn’t know lived near us. I didn’t know we had so many neighbours! When we walk along the road I notice things that I haven’t before. The strange thing is that people often park awkwardly and obstruct our driveway and at the moment we don’t have that problem. There aren’t many cars at all on our road. The question is, where have they all gone? Or more to the point, maybe they didn’t belong to anyone who lived here anyway. Maybe these missing cars belong to people who park near my house and walk to work? I don’t know, it’s just a bit bizarre.

When we do walk there seems to be so many other people out there. Just yesterday I had to drop a form off to college for one of the kids so I thought I’d walk to give my exercise a reason. It’s awkward though out on the paths. At one point a lady with a dog came towards me and we both stopped because the path was narrow. We were both so considerate that we wouldn’t pass each other and instead one of us had to reverse to pull in to a passing place. It was worse than being in a car on a narrow lane! Some people avoid your gaze, barely anyone smiles or even says hello. It is like people are afraid that by connecting, even from a distance, that they will somehow contract this virus.

The difficulty is, that for everyone that follows the rules, there are so many that don’t. So many that bend them to suit their needs and that is sad. Barn loves to walk our dog, and also loves to run. He could do both, but he doesn’t and chooses to run on the treadmill at home, so he can still take Miley out for a walk. The sad thing was that a few days ago when he was walking, they were approached several times by a dog that was off it’s lead, and without it’s owner. Barn tried to shoo it away but it kept coming back and actually ended by biting our dog. It’s not fair when things like that happen and Barn didn’t know what to do. At the moment, we always keep her on the lead, not because we don’t trust her, because she is very good, it’s more that we don’t want to encourage other dogs or people over. Yet there are so many people that don’t have quite the same consideration and walk too closely or don’t control their dogs.

Would you believe that there was a family having a picnic on the nature reserve near our home the other day? It’s not so much the picnic I have the problem with, despite it being against the rules, but more that they did it on the edge of a pathway and gate, making it almost impossible for others to walk past. Maybe if they’d wanted to do it, they could have found a quiet corner of a field where they would have been unnoticed and not affected anyone else?

Consideration is important at the moment really isn’t it? Well it’s important all the time, but right now, when we are all supposed to be distancing and yet looking out for each other we just need to be aware of how what we do affects everyone else.

Take care and thank you.
Claire x


Simple Things

Simple Things 1 My boys outdoors in sunshine running quarantine and writing for my sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary
My littlest boys Stanley and Barney.

Simple Things 2  outdoors in sunshine headstands and yoga quarantine and writing for my sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary
Fun in the sunshine.

We are lucky with the weather at the moment. Despite me not really feeling like going out much, and certainly not running like I have been, it has been lovely to spend so much of our time at home out of doors. Even at home we are in the garden a lot. My little man loves den building and looking for bugs so there is always plenty to do with him at home.

I don’t really like taking him out much right now. It’s hard to control where a two year olds hands go, and despite washing them as soon as we get home, he is into everything, so I haven’t taken him out at all to the shops or anything. We do go out on the occasional walk though, and he is loving the freedom to run in a field that is empty of animals (and people) near our house.

Yesterday, Barn was going for a run, and I decided to walk up with him and to take Stanley. Barn often runs to the same field and then does laps of it. He’s taken to running a bit barefoot too, as it’s supposed to be quite good for your posture, so he often goes for a run which ends up in the field where he takes his trainers off for a bit and does a few more barefoot laps before coming home.

Stanley complained his legs hurt on the way up the hill, but got a second wind once we’d climbed the stile into the field. As predicted, it was empty and several paths have been cut into the grass while the rest is left to grow long to be cut for hay. It makes interesting paths for a small person to run along, and I could watch him safely while I did a bit of outdoor yoga. It was beautifully sunny and warm but with a wind that stopped it getting too hot.

After an explore, Stanley came back to me and we tried to make daisy chains while we watched Barney do a few laps of the field. I’m sure it was easier to do when I was younger! We had a lovely time in the fresh air with a bit of space to ourselves before other walkers began to come through and we decided to walk back home.

I even managed to bring a bit of sunshine home with me, as I managed to stain my leggings from the yellow dandelions I knelt on!

Keep noticing the little things, even when things are difficult, it doesn’t have to be the big things that keep us going or make us happy.

Take care everyone and thank you for reading.
Claire x


Going into Town

Going into Town Bodmin Moor with my daughter Katie Hatwell. Claire Hatwell My Not So Secret Diary blog about sobriety and sober living with good mental health
Me and my lovely purple haired girl.

Recently I realised that I needed to get hold of a repeat prescription of my medication. I can’t believe it has been a month already, I’m not sure where the time is going to be honest. We should have so much time on our hands due to the lack of normality for so many of us and yet, time just seems to whizz by. I don’t do much of the things I would normally do, and yet, I also don’t seem to have the spare time I thought I’d have! Time is spent differently now.

Last month it was a real pain to get hold of my tablets. It was tricky to get the repeat prescription from the Doctor, and once it was done it was sent to a pharmacy I don’t normally use. I didn’t realise they had changed their opening hours, and so couldn’t get in to collect. They hadn’t opened on my way to work, and so my daughter popped in for me. She was turned away despite having waited as they shut their doors for lunch, and rather than come home and possibly miss them again, she waited for two hours to be one of the first in the queue when they reopened. I was so touched. It means a lot to know that Katie understands me, she knows that I worry and panic, and that she’ll go above and beyond to help me.

As I didn’t know how long it would take to get my repeat prescription this month I thought I’d phone the pharmacy first thing on Monday, leaving me almost a week to get the order fulfilled. Before when I’ve asked too far in advance they’ve been cautious of giving it to me because of it’s deemed ‘acute’ so there is a balance of giving enough notice, without too much, but allowing for things to go wrong. I heard back from my email to the surgery almost immediately to my surprise though, to be told the pharmacy had requested it already for me two weeks ago. I’m not used to people organising things for me like that so it was a bit strange, and I wasn’t sure that they were right. I half expected to get there and find they hadn’t got it at all!

Katie said she’d come with me, and we walked to town passing all the closed shops. It was quite eerie to be honest, and not many people were about at all. We were there before the pharmacy reopened, but there was already a large queue forming outside. It took us over forty five minutes to get in, but once we were there, we were done and dusted very quickly and back out in the fresh air. I did feel sorry for one of the members of staff bringing items out to the lady in front of me. She got an earful for the fact a delivery had not reached someone’s home in the time in which it had been promised. I know things are frustrating when they don’t happen as expected, but anyone could see that this poor lady had nothing to do with it once it had left the shop. She dealt with it very well, but it was uncomfortable to listen to.

Walking home was strange. It is the first time in weeks I’ve walked that way, and it was bizarre to see it so quiet, except for the odd policeman. I’m not sure why, but they always make me feel like I’ve done something wrong, despite the fact I was only going to the pharmacy and back home again!

Isn’t it funny how things have changed over the last few weeks? Even the familiarity of the shops isn’t there at the moment. Hopefully it won’t be for too much longer now, but who knows?

Stay safe everyone!
Claire x


Coming Out (as an alcoholic)

Coming Out (As an alcoholic) walking and recovering from alcohol addiction and writing for my blog on sobriety and mental health called My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
Feeling better about myself than I have in a long time!

It’s hard to admit you’re not quite who people think you are. At least I found it hard. For years I had constructed an outer shell that looked strong. It did it’s job well. It hid my low self esteem and my lack of confidence. To all that knew me, including many of my family I looked like I had things under control. I think that is one of the reasons I struggled for so long to admit things to myself, but especially to others. I didn’t want to let people down or have them change their perception of me.

I didn’t tell anyone to start with that I had a drinking problem, besides my husband Lee that is. Anyone I had tried to speak to hadn’t really understood. I felt like they might think I was making something out of nothing and blowing it out of proportion. I wasn’t, but unless you spend time in someone’s head, you really have no idea of what’s going on in there.

Many of my friends and acquaintances knew I ‘liked a drink’ so I didn’t want to talk about it with them. It felt like I was failing somehow or letting myself down, although in reality, facing up to my problem was one of the strongest things I have done. I felt scared to admit the truth, and unsure of what reaction I would get if I did. For a long time I felt like I was missing out by not drinking, and so I didn’t want to do anything that gave me any reminders. Instead, I hibernated. I stayed at home as often as I could and rediscovered myself, however soppy that sounds.

When you spend many years drinking, it’s hard just to ‘be’ without that thing you rely on. So slowly I relearned. I found new things I liked that replaced the alcohol and slowly I found I liked myself more than I’d done in a long time.

I still didn’t advertise my non-drinking lifestyle, it’s not that I wasn’t proud of it, but I was apprehensive of what others might thing of me. That they’d look down on me or stay away. I didn’t want to feel any worse about myself and I was afraid that well meaning comments or otherwise could affect me negatively.

I’ve found since I started writing this blog and being more open with my thoughts and feelings that I can relax and be myself more than I had done in a long time. It makes me see that if I didn’t go through the hard times, I wouldn’t be who I am now. It’s a relief to be able to accept myself honestly and authentically, the good bits and the bad bits. Although like everyone, some days are harder than others.

I love the freedom I have now, the fact that I don’t have a constant need for a drink regardless of whether I’m thirsty or not. I don’t ever wake up with a hangover, I never have to try to remember things from the night before. It’s a weight off my shoulders. For a long time I couldn’t imagine a life without wine. I wondered what it would be like, but now I know. It’s great, and that isn’t something I ever thought I’d be able to say!

Take care and thank you for reading.
Claire x


Soberistas Article

Soberistas - Recovering soberistas article written by Claire Hatwell sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary

I wrote an article recently for the fab sobriety website Soberistas about the way running helped me on my way to recovery.

If you'd like to read the whole article, please follow the link, you need to sign in to access the whole piece, but they do have a free trial. It's such a good website, full of great advice and above all, a place for like-minded people to share experiences.

I'm feeling pretty proud to see something I've written published.


Wise words indeed! πŸ’–

My Not So Secret Diary

The Next Generation

The Next Generation outdoors with our family, enjoying the sunshine on Bodmin moor. Writing about sobriety for my blog about living sober and mental health. My Not So Secret Diary
Enjoying the Cornish sun a few weeks ago.

As you may know my husband and I have four kids, Joe is 18, Katie 16, Barn 14 and Stanley is 2. Much as I’d like to say they don’t know about my drinking problem, it would be silly to say that. Of course they know, three of the four of them lived here with me right through it. In recent years I’ve spoken to them honestly and openly about it. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it was certainly a good thing to do. As a mum I want to be loved and cared about, I don’t want to seem less than perfect in their eyes, but it was important that I spoke to them as I don’t like secrets either. I wasn’t sure how to go about it to be honest, I didn’t know if I should bring it up, and because I didn’t know how to, I didn’t. One by one they came to me though, and we talked about everything. I’ve always had a policy that if they are mature enough to be able to ask me something, then I will do my best to answer. I have never wanted to brush them off with any subject, but of course, as this was about me it was a bit harder. Barn was the first one to bring it up one day were out on our own in the car, Katie the second and in the end I had to approach Joe. It wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do, as I didn’t want to blow the topic out of proportion, but I also didn’t want him to be the one out of the loop so to speak. Whereas the others asked questions, Joe was more dismissive, and it made me sad to think how much he probably remembered that I hadn’t realised. I’d been blinkered to it, and thought the kids had been protected, and of course, although I never put them at any harm, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t see me begin to rely on drinking.

I’ve tried to remain as honest as I can be with the kids. I want them to know that they can talk to me if they need to, and not just about this, but anything. I also want them to be aware, because it is thought that addictions can be genetic, I don’t want them to begin to rely on something and end up in a situation like I did.

I don’t preach to my kids. I’ve never told them not to drink. I have however told them to be careful. Joe goes out clubbing with his friends, he sees our neighbours in the local pub, which is something I have not done in a long time, and sometimes he does wake up with a sore head. But, he doesn’t drink every week. We don’t have alcohol in the house any more, well, actually somewhere there are a couple of bottles of beer that we won in a raffle. It seemed wasteful to throw it away, so I brought it home and gave it to Joe. That was last summer and I think it is still in a cupboard. He doesn’t drink at home and has the attitude to drinking that I wish I had had, able to enjoy it when he is with friends, and able to leave it when there is something better to do. I think I was always chasing that high, that good feeling or good time, and when it was over, I felt I could achieve it with another glass. Over time, that good feeling was long forgotten but the drink wasn’t. I hope none of the kids ever drink like I did, but if I stop them or ask them not to, I’m afraid they will rebel against me. So I don’t. I just talk to them, and let them know I’m here, and that their Dad is if they don’t want to talk to me. I’m lucky that they all feel able to talk to both of us.

For a lot of people drinking can be a fun release, but for people like me it isn’t. When that word ‘moderation’ pops up, alarm bells should ring. Anyone who feels they should moderate is probably beginning to lose control, and I know for one, moderation certainly didn’t work for me. It made me grumpy and reinforced the fact I felt like I was missing out. Nowadays, I don’t rush home (if I could go out) for a drink. It isn’t the first thing on my mind in the evening. I don’t worry about how much is in the fridge. Plans aren’t made around whether I can drink or not. I don’t have to think about what conversations I have had, and if I remember them all. I’m not hiding behind a glass or a bottle, I’m just me, and I’m doing the best I can. I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out at the moment.

Take care, and thanks for reading.
Claire x


Out of the Mouths of Babes

We were watching TV last night when my phone pinged with a message from my 14 year old son. He'd sent me these Instagram stories from Tesco, advertising their 'food' but instead showing beer and wine. His comment did make me laugh, but also, I feel proud of him for not being drawn into the glamour of drinking. He's only young, but I hope he continues to make well-educated choices.

Maybe in this case, every little doesn't help?


Out of the mouths of babes Tesco food and alcohol advertising at time of lockdown for the coronavirus and covid-19 writing for my sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary



My Not So Secret Diary


Compassion running with my son in his phil and ted running buggy in Cornwall during coronavirus and covid-19 lockdown and writing about it on my sobriety blog. My Not So Secret Diary
Smiley Stanley mid-run with me.

If you look closely at the moment, we are surrounded by doom and gloom. There is a horrible virus that we have no cure for. Many people have died or are dying and due to the contagious nature of the disease, people can’t even be with their loved ones at the end. It really brought it home to me a few days ago when I saw on the news that a 13 year old had died. He had been alone as his family weren’t allowed in. I can’t imagine the pain that family are in. I totally understand the need for everyone to protect themselves, but as a mother with a child of a similar age, I cannot imagine not being there if he was in pain. Not being able to say goodbye. It is heartbreaking.

Everything seems different at the moment, from the way our social lives have been limited to the way we are restricted in our distance from each other when outdoors. I’ve noticed a wariness in people, and to be honest, I don’t go out much. I tend to spend more time in the garden, but when I am out running people give me a wide berth, and I do the same for them. On one hand it is lovely to see everyone being so respectful and considerate, but on the other hand, I wonder whether we are actually creating more division? It seems that as well as the distance between bodies, that it is less likely for people to make eye contact and wave, and that makes me sad. Out of habit I smile and say, “Hello” or “Morning!” to other people when I see them out and about, but I seem to be getting less and less back, as if catching my gaze might be infectious.

Yesterday I was feeling stressed and over-anxious. My medication is helping a great deal but sometimes I still get twitchy. Running calms me, but I don’t necessarily see the benefit when I run regularly, it’s more that I notice the effect it has when I don’t run. My husband has taken over our conservatory, and is working at home at the moment, so he saw me circling and very quickly suggested I go out for a run. I must be easy to read! I didn’t feel like running on my own and all the teenagers were still in bed, so I strapped Stanley into the running buggy and off we went. I thought he could do with a change of scene as he hadn’t been out in a week, other than in the garden. Even though we are able to go out for our daily exercise, to be honest, I’m not that keen to go out and fairly happy to stay in a lot more than I would do normally. Of course, I told you that Stanley is worried that the ‘nasty bug’ is actually a lady bird that is going to get him, but being in the buggy I thought he would be fairly safe, and unable to touch anything. I had forgotten how loud he is! (And heavy!) We got to the end of our road and ran down the hill, passing some assisted living flats where a gentleman was looking out of his balcony. Stanley just shouted out, “Hello!” and waved. I’m normally a bit embarrassed about him shouting, but it was so lovely to see the man’s face light up, and we had a quick chat from a distance before carrying on. There weren’t many people out, but to everyone we saw or passed Stanley shouted and waved. It was sweet to see the reactions and smiles, even if it was from a way off.

The world is a funny old place at the moment, for everyone, regardless of their situation. On the whole the British are known for their stiff upper lip and their keep calm and carry on attitude. I get it, we need to do it, but we don’t have to limit our interactions totally either, do we? We’re still people, and even for those of us that have people at home the world has changed considerably. Our interactions are suddenly limited to those we live with, however many or few that may be. Days merge into the next, even when we keep ourselves busy, and we still don’t know how long this will go on for. People are lonely, and a little bit adrift without their daily routines. We’re asked to think about our older relatives, but what about those who aren’t older, or don’t have anyone to check on them? What about the people who just want to see a smiling face as they go about their business? Even popping to the shops isn’t the social activity it used to be. It’s hard work, or at least it is in my local supermarket, with one way systems and floor spacing marks set out.

We need to protect ourselves but we need to remember that we are part of a wider community and not isolate ourselves beyond all reach. Ultimately, we are all humans, so let’s try to remember to spread some kindness where we can.

Take care, and thank you for reading.
Claire x



Remembering proud of my sobriety and living a sober life and writing about it on my blog outside in cornwall on Bodmin Moor My Not So Secret Diary
On the moor - before the lockdown.

This quarantine has been a bit strange so far. As I’ve said before, I am very glad at this time, during all this chaos, that I don’t drink anymore. It wouldn’t be my friend and it wouldn’t make things better. Instead it would have given me another thing to worry about, another thing to try and go out to buy and of course the worry that I’d not be myself as I should be. That my mind would be numbed and elsewhere.

I suppose what surprised me was how that feeling of remembering a ‘nice’ drink is still there, even after all this time, and even when I don’t actually want to drink. It catches me out. I’m not writing this because I’m worried or concerned I’ll drink again, I honestly don’t think I would. However, I do think it’s good to address that those feelings are there still. I want to talk about it to let anyone reading this know that they aren’t alone in those thoughts, and it’s okay. Just because you remember, does not mean you have to relapse. It doesn’t mean you have to give in to your demons, whatever they may be and it doesn’t mean you are weak.

For me sunny relaxed late afternoons and evenings in the garden often used to mean having a glass or two of wine. (I’m being modest, we all know it never stopped there.) We have a nice barbecue outside and we like to cook and eat outdoors whenever the weather is nice enough. (By we I mean I like to watch my husband cook). We were fortunate enough to have some lovely sunny and warm weather at the beginning of our Covid-19 lockdown, and wanting to make these strange times as good as we could, we spent a lot of time outside with the kids. I built dens with Stanley, and he rode his bike around. Barn played with the dog and Katie moved from the sofa to the grass with her phone. It was lovely to make the most of it, and enjoy it, especially as it’s got colder now, but at the same time, I was surprised at how many old feelings it brought up. It was only later as we spoke about dinner that I had that feeling of wanting a glass of wine. I suddenly felt like that would be the thing to complete the evening and as normal, as soon as I’d shifted that thought it was followed by a bit of sadness that I wouldn’t be able to experience that again. The sadness never lasts for long now, it’s just a fleeting thing, but it is annoying.

I don’t worry now about drinking again. I never thought I would say that, but I can. Even saying that though, I am surprised how there are still little things that set me off. I don’t miss drinking, but sometimes, I miss that feeling of being the same as other people. I have a lovely time without it though. It doesn’t change anything really, it certainly doesn’t make me any more fun, or make an evening any better. In fact I know now, without a shadow of a doubt that I am a better person without it, so I guess that is why I’m so surprised when I get that little bit of glass envy. Your mind is a funny old thing isn’t it? I mean to remain wired so strongly for something for such a long time.

My message in this is the same though to all of you, just keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll get there.

Stay strong everyone and thank you.
Claire x


Instant Gratification

Instant Gratification walking on the beach with my two sons in Cornwall before the lockdown for coronavirus in the covid_19 pandemic and writing about it on my sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary
Beach day before the lockdown.

I didn’t think lock down or quarantine would bother me. I didn’t think it would happen for one thing, because I didn’t think the virus would be as bad as it is, but I also thought that it would be a threat that wouldn’t be carried out, to try and encourage us to stay at home more than we were. Pandemics like the one we are experiencing at the moment are the sort of thing that happens to other people, or on TV, it’s unlikely that they’ll affect us. Until they do.

As I said, I didn’t really worry. Which is strange for me, but I looked at it like as long as we have enough food, and we can work from home if needed, then what is there to worry about? My main concern is that we were all together. We can go out for a bit of exercise so really, it felt like it might be similar to an extended Christmas holiday. Normally that’s the only time we get off work and school together at the same time to be at home. You might remember that I work with my husband and our eldest son, so work is a bit more ingrained in our lives that just a job where we work for others. It’s hard to leave it alone. Christmas is the only time we shut down and for a week it’s peace. Nothing is happening without our knowledge so my husband doesn’t have to worry. Of course though, it isn’t really like that at the moment.

I’ve tried to be positive, I think it’s important, and like I’ve said before, I think a lot of us need this break, just a chance to get off the treadmill of life so to speak and slow down. Occasionally though I panic a little, mainly when I remember we don’t know how long this is for, and that worries me. A summer without going to the beach scares me. It’s just the simple things really, like taking the kids to the beach, swimming in the sea, or surfing, walking more than just near my home, taking the family up on to the moor. We don’t know when we can do any of these things again. But, we have to remember, this is all worthwhile, and by staying in we are protecting our communities and further afield. It’s not like we are all being asked to contribute in any other way, the majority of us are literally being told to stay at home and other than that we can do as we please.

It’s strange for most of us to live under these circumstances though. Unless you live off the grid, which I actually quite like the sound of, most people have a fair bit of human interaction outside their home. Largely, we are able to get what we want, when we want it. The shops showed us that with their lack of stocks when a lot of people tried to bulk buy in the days before the lockdown. People wanted, so they bought. We aren’t used to not having the things we feel we need, and don’t feel comfortable going without. I’m guilty of it too though. Years ago, I used to love shopping. I don’t so much now, I go more when I need something rather than for an aimless wander around the shops, but I still manage to have the things I need. With mail order we don’t even need to leave our homes anymore. Except even the majority of those have closed now. My eldest son has been taking the opportunity of the down time to work on his car, he was spray painting a panel, but has run out of paint and is struggling to get any more. He, like the rest of us isn’t used to not being able to get what he wants as and when he wants it. I don’t even have to go to the book shop any more, since I’ve had my Kindle, if I want a book I just look for it and less than a minute later, I have it.

I think we take for granted what we have, and how little we have to do normally to get the things we do. Of course it costs money, but the majority of us don’t have to put much effort into growing our food, it’s just there, and now we have to think a little bit more. When you have to queue to get into a supermarket, and queue to pay when leaving, after walking around a one-way system in the store, it becomes a little more important to plan what you have and when to go out, rather than just ‘popping to the shop’ as we are used to doing.

I don’t think this crisis will change us all in such a way that we will revert to living off the land, but I do hope it makes us appreciate what we have access to, and what we are able to do a lot of the time without even thinking about it. I hope it will help to change us for the better.

Take care, and thank you for reading.

Claire x


Public Service Announcement

A little reminder that we are only allowed out for one form of exercise per day! Is it just me who hears the music from the advert playing when they read it?! (Sorry to the runners out there for the use of the word jog!)

You wouldn't go for a second run My Not So Secret Diary

A Slower Pace of Life

A Slower Pace of Life, making the most of the covid-19 lockdown to spend time with my family outside and at home in Cornwall, writing about it for my blog My Not So Secret Diary
Den building in the garden with my little man Stanley.

I feel a bit naughty saying this, but I’m going to because it’s true. Although it’s weird and it’s taking some getting used to, I don’t think I can be the only person who is actually enjoying the change at the moment? The daily hustle and bustle has gone. The reasons I had to be up and rushing around, making sure things were done before aren’t there right now. Even work is closed for us at the moment, and while it is worrying to be unsure about the future, it does enable us to slow down a little bit.

Nothing can be rushed, because there is very little to do, and because it isn’t, I feel like I am able to slow down and appreciate things a bit more. I spend a lot of times with our kids anyway, but at the moment, I feel like we’re spending even more together. Two of the kids have online lessons and work for school and college, but it’s flexible and not taking a priority and at the moment they are officially on their Easter holidays so they even have a break from that. The big one doesn’t have work and the little one doesn’t have nursery, so we are all at home.

It helps that the weather is nice at the moment, the sun always makes me feel better, but I feel like I can just take things steadier. I’m getting up and going for a run, doing yoga, enjoying time with the kids in the garden and reading. I read a whole book yesterday! Now I don’t plan on doing that everyday, but it was nice to get sucked in by a good book and be able to enjoy it! The house work is done, but it doesn’t feel like the most important thing to do besides work at the moment. It may sound a bit daft, but I am especially enjoying the time I have to do the simple things like pegging the washing out on the line and watch it dry, rather than bunging it all in the tumble drier.

It’s so easy to spend our time rushing from one thing to another. We are always trying to achieve, and complete things, our modern lives are just so busy. It’s lovely not to feel like there is something else I should be doing and so I’m taking advantage and making the most of it. I’m writing this at the moment from my sofa, sat with my two of my boys, Barn next to me and Stanley under my arm, watching the TV. They grow so fast, it’s nice to slow down and enjoy them.

I think we all need it, just the chance to stop. I’m not saying it’s easy, it certainly wasn’t for us. We all are hard wired to be part of the world we live in and it’s weird not to have things when we want them, not to be able to go out to the shops, or out where and when we choose, but I think this enforced slowing down will make us all appreciate the things we have when things go back to normal in the future. Maybe it won’t be back to normal for all of us, it’s sad to think, but it’s likely things will change drastically for some of us and our families.

No one quite knows what we are dealing with, and how long this will go on. So for now I’ll just continue living like this, and enjoying being at home with my family while I can and building dens in the garden with my little one. I’m sure before long everything will be back as it was before and this strange time will all be a distant memory.

Take care and thank you for reading.




Yesterday boys and dog walking in coronavirus quarantine sobriety and life blog about mental health and family by Claire Hatwell called My Not So Secret Diary
I love this photo of Barn and Stanley with Miley. My daughter Katie took it.

It was a funny sort of a day…. I promised my little man that he would come to work with me yesterday. One of the lovely things about working with my family is that I can take him in when it suits me. The lockdown has it’s benefits too, as we are closed to the public our main gates are shut and he is able to ride his bike around in the compound fairly freely. I can see him from the window by my desk so he is quite safe and he has found a pile of sand that he loves to ride through.

I ended up having to let him down though. On reflection it didn’t seem such a good idea to take him in as my in-laws were also coming in, and it’s the first time in about six weeks that we were all going to be in the building together, albeit distanced. Although I had no intention of getting any closer than we’ve been when we’ve dropped shopping off to them or my parents it worried me that it would be hard for Stanley. At two years old, although he understands that there is a ‘nasty bug’ and that nursery is closed, he doesn’t understand why he cannot see and hug his grandparents. He is so used to freedom at work and potters about by himself, I didn’t want to confuse him by restricting him.

Katie said she’d watch Stanley for me, despite having an online college class (he joined her and apparently thought it was hilarious), so I said I was going to the shop and snuck out. I didn’t want to have to do two trips and make it obvious to him that I was doing more than shop so I struggled out the front door and up to the car with my hands full. My remote wouldn’t open the car which was odd, but having had a couple of goes I decided the battery must have gone flat. I put everything down and snuck back into the house for the spare key, getting back out before Stanley saw me. That seemed to be flat too, which is when I realised it was more than the remotes that were flat. Five weeks of lockdown and not moving my car had killed my battery. Such a pain! I ended up having to phone my husband to come back from work and get me.

On top of that, Stanley keeps coming up in a strange rash. It looks like he’s rolled in nettles, but only on his cheeks and only when he’s been out in the sun. It isn’t sun burn though, and I’ve tried various brands of sun cream, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference either. I made an online appointment with the doctor, sending photos and a description of the rash, but missed the call back from the doctor. The voicemail told me that it looked like an allergic rash and that we would have a prescription for some anti-histamines but didn’t tell me where the prescription would be. It took some chasing down to find it, because the surgery phone line is always busy and we have so many pharmacies so close to the surgery but eventually I got it. I’m hoping it will help, but without knowing what he is allergic to, I’m not holding out much hope.

I came home from work to find Stanley in a wonderful mood. I guess the break from me did him good! He has been getting awfully clingy recently, which is hard, although I know it is a confusing time for him. He had a lovely time with his brother and sister, riding his bike as they walked the dog, although he did manage to crash into a bramble bush. He fell asleep not long after I got back so clearly they wore him out!

The best bit of the day was having a visit from a friend who dropped me off some lovely loose leaf tea which I am currently drinking right now. She owns a cafe which of course isn’t open at the moment. It’s not quite the same as going out for a cup of tea, but almost as good! It was quite strange to talk to someone else, even from a distance, and really perked me up. I’ve been surrounded by family and the TV so to see another real life person and have a different conversation was quite nice!

Doing such ‘normal’ but simple things at the moment really makes me appreciate the normality of life that we took for granted not that long ago. Stay safe everyone!

Take care, and thank you for reading.
Claire x