There’s more to a Saturday afternoon than a pub lunch: the lesson I took a decade to learn

Rae Ritchie is a widely published freelance writer, a Club Soda member and a self-declared teetotal ‘wagonista’. In this guest article, she explores alternative Saturday afternoon ways of socialising without the booze, and why these moments need to be treasured.


A wagonista’s Saturday afternoon

This Saturday I’m meeting up with my friend Emily to eat cake and visit a second hand bookstore. We did the same back in November and had such a good time that we decided to try out other local venues that offer this dual opportunity.

Nothing particularly remarkable about this, but as a wagonista (my personal choice of moniker for teetotal, taken from the phrase ‘to be on the wagon’), I particularly treasure the times that I get to see my friends when alcohol isn’t involved.  I’m not against other people drinking and I don’t avoid nights out. I’ve simply become more alert to alternative socialising options since I quit the bottle myself.

I’ve always found that it’s easy for ‘nights out’ visiting pubs and bars to dominate our notions of ‘seeing friends’ and ‘having a social life’.  This may not be the case for you.  I sometimes wonder if it was my proclivity to drink that meant I rarely strayed from this tried-and-tested formula; as far back as 2004, I was impressed by a friend’s ability (and desire) to think of activities to do together on a Saturday afternoon other than get a pub lunch.  I should have spotted that was a sign then – oh wait, I did.  I just tried to ignore it for another decade.

Attempting to cut back on alcohol?

If you’re trying Dry January or attempting to cut back on alcohol a bit in the New Year then chances are you may also be hyper-conscious of the role that licensed premises can play in socialising.  While you definitely don’t have to avoid such places, it can just make things a bit easier for yourself to minimise visits, at least until you feel more secure in your new drinking status.

Of course with the rise of home drinking in recent decades, this won’t necessarily help in your mission but it can make a difference.  Wherever you normally partake, it’s useful to think of some other activities to occupy your leisure time.

If alcohol isn’t your driving force in life, it’s amazing what’s out there to do on evenings and weekends!

My friend who had the ideas that extended beyond food-and-booze suggested a trip to an art gallery.  We also visited a nearby medieval home and garden.  So simple, so much enjoyment, even if we did have issues with the carpark machine in the latter.

There’s everything from ten pin bowling, ice skating and the cinema to walking, playing squash and starting a five-a-side team.  You could go shopping, visit someplace new, take in an exhibition or a fair.  There are also thousands of festivals out there, and not all are about beer!

How about going for coffee and a cake this Saturday afternoon like Emily and me?

Not everything has to revolve around alcohol

The following Saturday, I’ve a group of friends coming round for a beauty night: a visit from a beautician combined with a lot of gossiping.  Some will probably have a drink, but it’s not the central pillar of the night.  Like my old friend knew, not everything has to revolve around alcohol.  After thirteen years, two of them sober, this is a lesson I’m finally learning.


If you enjoyed reading Rae’s blog, you can check out more of her writing here.

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