Apr. 9th, 2012

stapsdoes101things: Pizza with '101' marked out in green pimento (101food)
17 January 2012

I woke up with a hangover today. Last night I drank a couple of glasses of red wine. I'd eaten a few liqueur chocolates through the day. Still, if you abstain from alcohol in Lent, a hangover on Easter Monday morning is hardly surprising.

Yes: from 22nd February to 1st April I drank no alcohol; for form's sake I had a small glass of wine at the final meal of the Lent course on 2nd April, and then nothing again until Easter Day, 8th April. (Pro-tip: do this sort of thing during Lent, and nobody assumes it's because you're pregnant.) It was both easier and harder than I expected. I don't drink much in the ordinary way of things; we make a point of not drinking at home unless it's a special occasion, so the crunch point was always going to be the social situations.

And there were plenty of social situations. Over the month of March I went to: a family party, three church meals (and this is the Church of England; forget everything you ever heard about Christians not drinking), the pub with work, the pub with my partner, Maidstone with my mother for a long walk - all situations where I'd usually have a drink or three. The only thing I missed was the church wine-and-discussion evening, being ill or something.

And, while it felt odd not to have a drink in my hand, I coped with the general chit-chat and social awkwardness much better than I expected. I'd always assumed that I needed a bit of alcohol to let my guard down a bit, but actually the party atmosphere does it for me. I also discovered that the way I get tired and grumpy towards the end of a party has nothing to do with what I've drunk: I got tired and grumpy towards the end of my father's 70th birthday party just because I was tired and grumpy.

On the other hand, there were days when I really fancied a pint. So there you go.

Since the beginning of February, I've also been happily taking lunch into work every single day. This never happens, and I'm really impressed. What I do is make up a large batch of soup on Sunday evening, either on the hob or in the slow cooker, and buy a packet of rolls on my way into work on Monday morning. Every day I take a bowlful of soup into work in a plastic tub, and heat it up in the microwave at lunchtime.

Once I'd got away from the idea that it had to be sandwiches, it was easy. I hate making sandwiches. Having to put that much effort in every day? No chance. But reducing the major effort to once a week, and making the minor effort something I do every day, so I can get into a routine, has worked really well.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a rose window (101church)
6 April 2012

The cake above is a babka, a traditional Polish Easter cake. My partner, whose grandmother was Polish, has been enthusiastically rediscovering his heritage this year. This involves baking babka, dyeing hard-boiled eggs red with onion skins, buying vast quantities of cheese and smoked sausage, and taking the whole lot to church to get it blessed.

After various false starts, he discovered that the local Roman Catholic church, St Dunstan's, was actually holding a proper Swiecone, the blessing service, on Easter Saturday, so off we went.

I'm not sure what I was expecting - four or five Babcias with a cake each, perhaps. But this was huge - the church was full to bursting, mostly with young families, each bringing a basket of goodies. These were piled into a small mountain on the chancel steps. And I suddenly realised - of course; this is what you do at Easter if you're Polish and Catholic - which is something I don't think I'd ever appreciated before.

The priest seemed a bit bewildered, but played along gamely. The service was conducted in about equal parts Polish and English, so I was quite bewildered myself, but fortunately the congregation didn't have to do much beyond say 'Amen' in logical places.

Even if I didn't understand much of the service, I appreciated the principles behind it. The affluent world has horribly skewed attitudes to food, and it was very good to go to an event where food was appreciated as a blessing. I'd like to learn a little more Polish and go back next year. The chances of my converting to Roman Catholicism are approximately zilch, but this seemed like a very friendly, lively, congregation, and I'm glad to know it exists near me.

I only realised when we were half-way there that this would tidy up goal 14. I never got round to writing up my visit to the Friends Meeting House last summer, but the Quakers were a very friendly bunch and I may well go back there before the 1001 days are over. Anyhow, St Mary's, the Friends, and St Dunstan's together make this goal complete.

Z najlepszymi zyczeniami Wielkanocnymi. (With best wishes for Easter)

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