My Not So Secret Diary

Freedom At The Beach

Freedom At The Beach in Cornwall with my children, writing for my blog, My Not So Secret Diary, by Claire Hatwell
A week on from my first beach trip since the lockdown was eased slightly, yesterday I brought the kids to the beach again. We sat a little bit further on from last week, the beach was a little busier and the tide further out. There was more sand and space to play, despite the additional people. The carpark was busy but not full and despite the news reports, the sea was largely empty. There were about six surfers that I could see, all sticking together at the far end of the beach in their little tribe.

Katie and Stanley made it their mission to bury Barney in a hole, leaving only his head and shoulders visible. I was careful to make sure to keep an eye on the tide coming back in! I had helped to bury him, but Barn was being quite particular about how he wanted to be buried, so I walked away for a moment. Stanley wanted to add water from his bucket, but that didn’t go down well at all with Barn. It might have all ended in tears, but instead they enjoyed the moment and the freedom. After the weeks of confinement, the sun and the fresh air in such an open place is very welcome to all of us.

But of course this isn’t our normal. On any other year, it would have been the last day of half term. We would have been packed in like sardines on a day like that, if we had even bothered to come at all. Then we’d have been in for a busy drive home. We probably would have come down in the evening instead, and maybe had a barbecue. So it’s nice to have the space. Stanley pottered about, going up and down to the water, and I could see him well from my shady spot by the rocks. Normally, I wouldn’t dream of letting him go so far by himself, but it’s good for us all to have a little space and freedom to explore.

With social distancing in place for the foreseeable future I can’t imagine when the beach will look like it should do at this time of year. It’s going to affect a lot of businesses and holiday parks, but I know I’d be wary of coming here if there wasn’t enough space for us all. I certainly don’t feel inclined to go away on holiday this year, but with the sun and the beach on our doorstep, we are very lucky in that respect.

It still makes me nervous though, coming to the beach I mean. I worried that there wouldn’t be any space so I warned the kids that we might have to move to another beach, or worst case, come home. It’s worth trying, because you never know and I don’t want to disappoint them, but I’ll still avoid the beach over the weekend. Much as I’d like to go, I just don’t think it’s worth it if others are flocking to the beaches like the news showed them doing last weekend, and we have a garden to enjoy the sun in. But, while we can, we’ll make the most of the good weather and enjoy the freedom we are so lucky to have.

Take care.
Claire x



Waves the A30 with no traffic in half term Cornwall lockdown, writing for my blog, My Not So Secret Diary, by Claire Hatwell
There is something soothing about the sound of the waves. It is both relaxing and calming. The beach is probably one of my most favourite places, well, that and the woods, but both have to be quiet. I’m not against other people being there, but I do like my space. I don’t like to feel invaded by other people, and even with social distancing, some people aren’t good at giving others space. There’s nothing worse than keeping our dog on the lead and away from other people, to have someone else let their dog jump all over us.

Cornwall is notoriously a tourist destination which is lovely, and I do like to see the change in seasons. It can be hard when you’re local, when things change in the summer and you can’t get about so easily. Often even the main roads are badly affected and it can double the time it gets for me to get home from work, especially on a Friday.

It probably sounds selfish, as a lot of businesses rely on tourism, but it’s quite nice to have the county to ourselves for a little bit. It’s strange to get onto the main dual carriageway, and not immediately have to start queuing.

We avoided the beach last weekend, just because it was the bank holiday and we presumed it would be busy, but we went in the week before that and it was so lovely to have the beach to ourselves on a nice day, not to be packed in like sardines between holiday makers. The advice is not to go in the sea, but I can see the temptation, on such a warm day it was nice to paddle, but I didn’t swim. There are many surfers in though, and I struggle to see what is different for them at the moment really. They are told not to go in as there are no Lifeguards, and yet, a lot of them surf in the evening when there is no one on duty anyway. Obviously there is a risk if someone needs saving that it will break the social distancing rules and put the emergency services at risk. On the other hand, if I was out running or cycling and had an accident, I would be expected to phone for an ambulance if I needed it, so I’m not sure whether things should really be different for different activities. Surfers and swimmers that use the sea regularly, I feel, should be able to continue to do so, as it it often their most common form of exercise. I totally understand the reason to keep others out of the sea though, and to stop any unnecessary risks. On Bank Holiday Monday there was the need for several rescues and sadly two deaths that I know of at beaches local to me. It’s so sad to think people are putting themselves in danger and getting into trouble when there aren’t the rescue services on duty that we are used to. One was only a teenager.

Everything is quieter at the moment, and it will be strange to get used to the busy roads and carparks again. It’ll be odd to hear the extra noise when schools and shops reopen. Looking out now, there is no one passing by, and I wonder really what sort of normal we will return to. I don’t think it will be the same as it was before lockdown, but whatever it is, I am sure there will be more people and more noise. So for now at least, although I’m not going to go out all the time, I will try to make the most the space and the quiet.

Have a lovely weekend!
Claire x


Late Night Hair Cuts

Late Night Hair Cuts writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell lockdown hairdcuts for me and my family
I think having your hair cut is quite a personal thing. There aren’t many people who touch our hair really are there? We do it ourselves, except for visiting the hairdresser occasionally. I don’t even do that. I find it hard to let go, and am often disappointed with the way it looks. I think the last time I had my hair cut was about 18 months ago. The length is probably a giveaway!

My little man is a nightmare at the hairdresser. Well, once upon a time he was really good. We had a lady who had her own salon and was really relaxed with him. It was great but then she had a baby and closed. I tried lots of other places but he’d scream and fidget, no matter what we did to distract him, even watching Peppa Pig on YouTube! We still got his hair done, but it isn’t a nice feeling to feel that you’ve stressed your baby and yourself out and had to pay for the pleasure of it.

I wasn’t too worried at the start of lockdown, because Lee, Joe and Barn all got their hair cut literally a couple of days before, so I thought it would last. Stanley had an appointment for the first day of lockdown which of course was cancelled and we watched as he steadily turned into a mop. Katie and I decided not to worry. She hasn’t even been able to have her hair dyed recently, which is currently purple, but is fading to a pretty pink colour.

Of course though, lockdown goes on and hair doesn’t stop growing. Over the last few weeks we’ve started to do the kids ourselves. I say we, but I was too nervous so I just watched and Lee did a great job. He started with Stanley and only used scissors but got it looking a lot tidier. The next week we got some clippers and he did Joe’s and Barn’s. I’m not kidding, they look as good as if they’d been to the barber. Then Stanley got another go, and sat brilliantly, not only for the scissors but for the clippers too! He looks so smart and so much better for it.

Of course with Lee doing everyone else’s hair there is no one to do his. I didn’t want to offer, because I didn’t want to mess it up or for him to say yes to save my feelings. The other night though, he asked me. I was so nervous. I’ve never cut someone’s hair before and I’ve never used clippers and yet I was so touched that he asked me. Haircutting is quite intimate, and despite being married for over 19 years, it’s not something I’ve ever done, or ever thought I’d do. It was strange, and yet lovely.

Bearing in mind it was 11pm, the lighting where we were doing it was more subtle than functional and we need proper scissors, I don’t think I did a bad job. With the boys, we were on proper lockdown, so if it went horribly wrong, no one would see them the next day, besides us. With Lee, I knew he had to work the next day and I didn’t want to mess it up!

Thinking about it, it’s just another thing I can do now I don’t drink. There is no way I would have been able to do what I think is a good job had I had a few drinks. I might have tried though!

I have a couple of sore fingers because my coordination is clearly a little lacking, but I reckon with practice I could actually quite enjoy it. I don’t think it’s a career change for me, I’m not sure I could cope with the stress of cutting other people’s hair, but think of the money we could save if we don’t pay anyone else to cut hair for us in the future!

Thanks for reading.
Claire x


#lockdownhaircuts #addiction #recovery #honesty #alcoholfree #sobriety #sober #soberlife #blog #anxiety #mentalhealth #awareness #coronavirus #habits

Right Now

Right Now my son and daughter walking, time for myself and writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell in Cornwall
I came home from work this afternoon to find Katie walking down our road with Stanley. She was taking him to a nearby field to stretch his legs for a few minutes. I stopped to check they were okay, as she had been looking after him for me for the morning and she offered to see if I wanted to join them. Normally I would say yes. Even when I don’t want to, sometimes I feel like I should. I’ve been trying to stop doing things out of habit though and the lure of an empty house called. I told Katie that and she was fine, but of course she was, if she hadn’t seen me, she would have been on her own with him anyway. They carried on and I went home.

I left the jobs that always feel so important. I didn’t empty the dishwasher or load the washing machine. I didn’t even unpack my bag.

Instead, I put the kettle on, picked up my notebook and my Kindle and sat down in the sunshine.

Right now, the paving is warm under my feet. The only sound is the birds and someone cutting their grass in the distance. The sun is warm on my face, and the dog is asleep by my feet. The street is quiet and no-one is passing by. It’s very peaceful.

So… I’m going to enjoy it.

Just for a little while, until they come home.

Peace. Just for a moment right now, while I drink my tea.

The funny thing is, the minute I stopped writing, I realised I was listening out for them. I might like the peace, but I do miss them when they aren’t here.

Claire x


#cantwin #family #addiction #recovery #honesty #alcoholfree #sobriety #sober #soberlife #blog #anxiety #mentalhealth #awareness #lockdown #coronavirus #habits


Confidence me and my son together in the sun writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell sobriety and mental health
The other day I remembered something that happened years ago. It was only a little something, but one of those things that sticks in your mind, and I just remember thinking at the time that my sister-in-law was so confident to act in the way she did. I wished I could be like that, but I couldn’t. I felt like my self-doubt was really noticeable to others, even though it wasn’t.

As I got older I always compared myself to other people, I looked at everyone with curiosity, not judgment, but I tried to pick apart how and why people behaved in the ways they did. I wondered what people saw when they did the same to me, and I often thought they’d find me lacking. I hated feeling like that, but it just seemed obvious. Everyone else was strong and confident and I wasn’t. It’s funny though, when I look back now on those times, I realise they didn’t see me in the same way as I felt about myself.

Changing the perception I have of myself is one of the biggest things that has happened for me since I became sober. Wine had a huge impact on me and my life, not only in how I behaved, but in how I thought about myself. Although in some ways I drank to ease my anxiety, to relax and to make things easier, in the long run it eroded my well-being, my sense of self and made me question everything about myself.

I’m still the same person I was before I drank, however many years ago that was. I’m the same person as I was when I was drinking too. The difference is, now, I am me without the affect of alcohol. Wine was a buffer and the way I coped, so coming to live without it was hard. It meant I had to face things head on. I had to tackle thoughts and emotions that were difficult and not always pleasant. In all honesty it was far easier to have a glass of wine (or three bottles) in the evening than to face up to my feelings. It was certainly easier to have another drink than it was to face up to my drinking problem. In the long run though, if I’d carried on the way I was going I may not still be here. So facing up to things was the only way forward for me.

To start with I felt like all my confidence had gone. Every last bit seemed to have gone with the last of the wine that I tipped away. Logically, I knew I had plenty going for me, but I also knew from the outside I looked way more together than I felt. That didn’t make me feel any better. It was almost harder to know people thought I was okay when I wasn’t. It made me doubt how real my own feelings were, and made me question whether I really had a drink problem, because you know, people like me don’t - do they? All these questions chipped away at everything I knew or thought about myself. But of course, there is no typical person, there is no typical addict either. No one can define me and no one should judge me, because no one else knows what is in my head except for me.

I’ve spent the last three and a half years rebuilding, and it feels like things are coming together. I feel calmer and clearer than I have in a very long time, and it’s nice. I like the quiet. I like the peace. It’s been hard getting to where I am now, but I’m very glad I persevered!

Take care and thank you for reading.
Claire x



Habits I'm a creature of habit, spending time at the beach in Cornwall and writing for my sobriety blog, My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I have a little bit of an obsessive nature. It’s not always a bad thing, but it does mean I struggle to let silly things slide by. In many ways, I think my nature is partly to blame for my dependency on alcohol. If I’d been a little bit more balanced and addressed my mental health sooner, I wouldn’t have begun to self medicate in the first place.

Often, I know my habits are a bit daft, or at least would seem so to other people, but if I don’t do them, I can’t relax. It makes me feel physically uncomfortable. For example, the hoovering. I have to do it every day at least once without fail. It doesn’t matter if the house is tidy, or doesn’t need it, I just have to do it. Yesterday I think I counted five times. I know the first time can be justified, as I like to keep the house clean, but then if I see anything on the floor I have to do it again. I can’t even just do the bit that is ‘dirty’, I have to do the whole house again. It’s frustrating, and the only one that makes me do it is myself. I can justify it normally as I want to keep the house tidy in case anyone stops by, not that they often do, but at the moment no one at all comes besides the postman who runs away as quickly as he can. I don’t blame him though, I think I’d be exactly the same!

Another habit I have is washing my hair. Again, doesn’t it sound ridiculous? But, I can’t leave it more than a day, and that is at a push, in case it looks dirty and people think I don’t make an effort. I go to a lot of trouble to research different shampoos to try to limit the washing of my hair, but they never seem to work for me. So I wash and dry it every day. As it’s so long, it takes ages! I’m not having it cut though! Over the lockdown I’ve managed to stretch it to every other day, using my
Lush dry shampoo, but I just feel lazy and grubby if I leave it any longer. It’s like the fact that I have to put my eyeliner and mascara on every morning, despite the fact that I rarely see anyone other than family, and if I do, I’ve probably got my sunglasses on and they can’t even see it! It just makes me feel like I’ve made an effort.

I suppose, for me at least, it’s a coping strategy, a way to tick the boxes and make me feel like I’m doing the things I need to, even when I don’t see people, and I guess, that routine is all we have during lockdown, when all our normal routines are changed or missing, but, I’m also aware that sometimes I can’t rely on these little habits, and so I’m trying to push myself a little bit. I had full intention of not getting the hoover out today. I wasn’t going to do it. In the end, I did, but on the positive side, it wasn’t the first thing I did. Lee and Barn were cutting our hedges yesterday and a stray leaf found it’s way inside the backdoor. Once I’d see it I just felt uncomfortable, and had to do it.

I do find it funny how these silly little things can help us cope. Who would have thought such a small thing like hoovering, or putting on make up can settle my mind and stop me feeling uncomfortable!

Do any of you have little habits like this? Or am I the only crazy one? Happy

Take care and thanks for reading.
Claire x



Distractions cycling, mountain biking in Cornwall and writing about it for my blog about sobriety and recovery called My Not So Secret Diary, by Claire Hatwell
Once upon a time I began to wonder whether I drank too much. I convinced myself I didn’t because I didn’t fit the traditional stereotype of someone with a drinking problem. Like that stereotype is real! Many times I tried to do something about it, but most attempts were only half hearted as I was so scared to address the problem I didn’t ask for help or tell anyone else about it.

Shame plays a huge part of any addiction and it certainly did with me. I felt that if I didn’t tell anyone, no one would notice. Of course, I had my head in the sand. I hoped that I would be able to slow my drinking down, to stop or get it under control, and I wouldn’t have to admit it to anyone. I mistakenly thought I would be able to ‘moderate’ but I have proved several times that isn’t an option for me. Stopping needs more than just willpower though, especially when your family (including your kids) are so used to you having a glass of wine that they offer you one without even thinking, without questioning it, and it is more normal to drink wine in the evening than it is to have anything else. It’s more noticeable in fact to say no thank you to a glass of wine, than it is to accept one, and that makes people question why you’re not drinking as much.

Instead of tackling the problem head on like I should have done, with a clear head, which I didn’t have, I tried to put things in the way, to make drinking harder for myself. If that isn’t an indication of a problem, I don’t know what is! I knew I wanted to slow down, wine wasn’t fun for me anymore, it was hard to control and I suppose had instead begun to control me.

For a long time, I’d begun to find excuses not to go out in the evening, it stressed me out. To be honest, even staying at work later than normal stressed me out. I found it difficult when it got to that witching hour around 5.30-6pm. A lot of people know it as ‘wine o’clock’, I just knew after work or at the end of the day I felt like I deserved a glass of wine, I’d got some misguided idea that it was a reward. Now, in hindsight, I know that there are a lot of other things that would be a far better reward, but back then I was locked in this ridiculous cycle with no easy way out. Deciding that I needed a distraction I tried many things, including getting a new job that I had to travel further to, thinking I would end up drinking less if I had to drive more. It didn’t work. I also tried all sorts of hobbies, thinking if I could occupy myself, I would drink less.

For a while I got really into mountain biking. It occupied me, and gave me a rush of adrenalin. We’re lucky to have a lot of mountain bike trails near where we live and my eldest son was quite into it too, so in the evenings we’d load up the car and go off for a few hours. Don’t get me wrong, it was great, but it didn’t have the effect I had hoped. Instead, I felt even more like I’d earned a drink when I got home. It felt like I’d done more and waited longer, and so it was okay.

Recovery doesn’t happen if you’re half hearted. Nothing really got in the way of my drinking until I was properly ready to let it. It’s all or nothing, it takes a lot of effort and it is hard, but believe me, it is also so worth it. I am present now in whatever I do. I’m not rushing through life so I can get home to pour my wine. I actually am able to just be. I’m not always completely calm, but I’m working on that. It’s going to take some time for my anxiety to settle properly, but time and medication helps. So does not drinking. It’s nice to know that I am me, with a level head, unaffected by alcohol. It’s nice to think that I haven’t made a rash comment or judgement based on a misperception because of a glass of wine or two. I still worry that I’ve said the wrong thing at times, but I also know what I’ve said, and usually, there’s a pretty good reason behind it. I guess, although my mind is a bit chaotic, and probably always will be, that it’s more moderated now and that can only really be a good thing.

Much love,
Claire x