Most school leavers have just hit the legal drinking age, so a gap year is often imagined as the ultimate time to let loose and celebrate – most of the time with a few alcoholic drinks in hand.
Jack from Wales – tall and slender with a mop of shaggy brown hair – didn’t easily fall into what he describes as a “drink to get drunk” culture in the UK, mainly because his friends weren’t partiers. It wasn’t until he started travelling the world as a backpacker that he eventually got swept up in the binge-drinking lifestyle.
“I was basically drinking every day because everyone else was. No one else [I was drinking with] worked so we could go out and have fun.”
Jack recalls one night when he was about to head off to a friend’s farewell party, that he ended up drinking so much he woke up at 1 a.m. on the bathroom floor and missing the party altogether.
It was one small moment he didn’t think much about until his whirlwind tour slowed down, and he found himself in Sydney, drinking around three to four beers every day. Once a mate pointed it out to him, he began to reflect a little more about his daily drinking.
Around the same time, he learned about Hello Sunday Morning, a movement that encourages people to change their relationship with alcohol.
In November 2016, Jack decided to try drinking a bit less. These days, he’ll have a drink or two but only during special occasions or over dinner.
Jack admits he was fortunate that it wasn’t a difficult habit to break, saying he now feels better for doing it because it means he can spend his weekends doing things he really wants to – exploring, learning, or just kicking back with mates.
For many like him, though, it’s hard to picture a weekend that doesn’t revolve around the pub. So, what do you do?
Here’s a glimpse into how Jack takes back an ordinary Sydney weekend…
Jack’s weekend diary
6.30 p.m: We watched the sunset as walked along the Bondi Coastal trail. It’s a walk my girlfriend and I try to do three times a week, usually early in the morning before the day starts. But tonight, we didn’t have anything planned, plus I wanted to get out of the house. It’s always a nice feeling to get a bit of exercise in and a sense of achievement if it’s just a short walk.
7.30 p.m: I cooked some home-made pizzas before curling up on the couch and putting on a movie. I’ve been watching so many movies lately. I find it’s an easy way to just wind down, especially on a Friday night like this when you don’t have much planned.
9.00 a.m: I’m an early bird most days, mainly because my body clock doesn’t let me sleep past 6.30 a.m., but it’s a little wet outside and I can hear the rain pattering lightly against my bedroom window (much nicer without a hangover!), so I decided to sleep in a little bit this morning.
10.00 a.m: When I eventually got up, I strolled down to my local favourite haunt, Gertrude and Alice, in Bondi Beach. It’s probably the best way to start the weekend. It’s a little café that has the perfect atmosphere for me to indulge in a cup of coffee while reading a book.
Recently, I’ve been enjoying books by Australian author Tim Winton. It’s his short stories I really enjoy because they’re just easy to read and they don’t take too long. I’m just finishing up Blueback at the moment. The next book I plan to read, which is a little different, is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson (I’m sure it won’t be too bad an influence!).
11.00 a.m: We then headed around the corner to our favourite op-shop at the Wayside Chapel and found some pre-loved treasures. I always love a good bargain, especially if I can pick up a few t-shirts for the price of one brand new!
2.00 p.m: I spent the afternoon having a couple of friends at a local bar on Bondi Beach called The Bucket List. It ended up being a really big turnout and I got to see some really cool live artists playing including The Babe Rainbow, Jack River, and Jagwar Ma. It was a really great afternoon because The Bucket List is a place where you don’t have to have a drink to enjoy yourself because you’re chilling and chatting with friends and there’s a great, laidback vibe.
10.30 a.m: Rain was predicted for the afternoon so my girlfriend and I decided to explore the city. We walked over to Rose Bay ferry wharf and caught a ferry across the harbour to Circular Quay.
11.00 a.m.: We popped into the Museum of Contemporary Art and walked around – it was a cheap and cheerful way to spend the morning.
1.00 p.m: We ended our weekend with a chicken parmi and a cider on the rooftop of the popular Glenmore Hotel, overlooking views of the city and the harbour.
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