Alex Hart

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Quick – Hide the Gin!

ginOne thing I detest about New Zealand is the heavy/binge drinking culture here and the inevitable social consequences this brings. If you are in any doubt of the damage our habits are causing then take a look at the statistics on this site

Most people might consider that I had a privileged upbringing. My father was a stockbroker in the city of London and my mother was a model before she married.  London was party central in the late 60’s and 70’s. My parents moved in fashionable circles and had many rich and titled friends whom they entertained regularly. Alcohol was an accepted, if not an expected, part of daily life.

In my parents’ case, heavy drinking led to hideous rows centred around other problems in their personal lives, until the drinking itself became another problem to fight about. I have very vivid memories from about aged 7 of my brother and I covering our heads with our pillows to drown out the late night fights and to hide our own sobbing.  The abusive and hurtful comments shouted at us by my mother during these times were usually forgotten by her in the morning – but such comments are not so easy for the small (sober) person on the receiving end of them to forget.

Don’t get me wrong – there was always food on our table, we were loved and we were encouraged to study hard and to be successful. Plus we werent subject to the physical violence that so often accompanies alcoholic relationships. But Sunday lunchtimes could be particularly painful as this was often the time when ‘issues’ were highlighted and our parents’ moods were unpredictable. At the tender age of 11 it dawned on me that adults make big mistakes and don’t always know how to sort them out – I became very self reliant and a bit of a loner.

After my mother’s death my father was griefstricken and turned to alcohol and a few likeminded friends for solace. It was only when visiting him in hospital when he was seriously ill that my brother and I dared to speak the unspoken word  ‘alcoholism’ (they don’t prescribe Gin in hospital  because the patient needs cheering up you know…). By then, the father I knew and loved was gone and had been replaced by a stranger. I walked away.

As part of the life coaching process recently I needed to go back and look at my past and find things to celebrate. I was prepared to come out fighting rather than do this exercise and I told Sian this. She in turn provided some explanation and context over my feelings about the past and all of a sudden, I understood a lot more about myself and a lot more settled.

So why am I telling you all of this?

Well, first of all I am no saint and there have been a couple of really dark periods in my life during which I drank more than was good for me. Thankfully I had loving people around me who were able to help pull me back.

People who regularly abuse alcohol are not just hurting themselves but also the people who love them (and as for drink drive and family violence stats – I am not even going to go there). As a parent I am very conscious of the peer pressure on young adults to binge drink and its hard to give advice to your kids without sounding like an overbearing killjoy. But lets face it  – having your stomach pumped is not a rite of passage – its something to avoid at all cost.

By teaching our kids to drink responsibly (and by demonstrating the same approach ourselves) we can make changes.

Instead of the advert “Stop the family driving drunk – legend” shouldn’t we have instead “stop the family drinking – legend”?

Something to think about.



Confessions of a TV star!

Okay, okay so maybe not a TV ‘star’ but I bet I have your attention! By now some of you may have seen the publicity for Vibe’s new TV programme Starting Over. I also made mention in one of my earlier posts about having a “leg up” to make changes in my life. So now it’s time to come clean.

So the question is – what would possess a 40 something, overweight, uptight, married British Expat woman, with a good career, to apply to take part in a TV series about starting over? Well, to be honest you have to watch the programme to find out some of the reasons why I wanted to make changes. But as for applying to take part in the series in the first place……? Well, truthfully I never really imagined that I would be chosen as a participant. Pressing the send button for the TV questionnaire was me admitting properly that I didn’t want to settle for things to make other people happy or to keep the status quo in my career because it was expected of me.  I was tired of playing safe – it was time to take back control of my life.

In fact the teenage rebel inside me (that I have managed to lock up for most of my adult life), poked its head out and said “Really? –What happened to you – is this it??? Are you sure??”  Once the application was sent there was no going back!  I didn’t really think at that moment about what it would mean to be part of a TV programme and I couldn’t believe it when the call came to say that the producer and team wanted to meet me.

Making big changes to your life is hard. It requires commitment, a lot of thought and work and just because you have the support of a production team does not mean it’s a breeze – far from it. Ultimately the starting over process for me has been really rewarding in many ways and I had a lot of fun along the journey too.  It’s surprising how quickly you get blasé about being filmed (although being filmed wearing lycra was probably not my favourite bit!!!). I got quite used to camera men fiddling with the front of my blouse looking for a lost microphone, whilst maintaining eye contact and a conversation about every day stuff.  Never mind all of the people in the street gawping as the camera was filming.

How many time have you seen people juggling cameras in the street?

How many time have you seen people juggling cameras in the street?

I cried and cried throughout the process – much to my embarrassment – it was a big part of letting go.  I laughed  a lot too and I now realise just how much time and work is involved in making a TV programme happen.

Looking in the mirror today I don’t see the tired frumpy woman who started the process. I see a totally different    person – someone I haven’t seen for a long time and that feels gooooood!!!

Some people might think that I am completely deranged for opening up my personal life on TV – others might just think it’s cool to be on TV.  As for me, I am glad I did it. Those who have known me for a very, very long time might be a little nervous to ask “what comes next?”

As to that – you’ll just have to wait and see!

The series starts  on 10th February on Vibe TV and you can get a taster at this address:

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Put Your Money Where your Mouth is!


I love New Year – there is something quite satisfying about the calendar flipping over and starting afresh. A feeling that you have a new chance to get things right. This year I have not made any resolutions instead I have realised that it is time to really start living this new life that I am carving out for myself.

Towards the end of last year I said I wanted to raise some money for the children of Santa Catalina in Anatuya, Argentina towards a holiday for them. Well, Haciendo Camino is arranging a holiday for 28 kids following my discussion which is absolutely fantastic but now they need help raising the funds. So now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and start raising some cash. But where to start?

It’s hard enough to raise cash for local causes, never mind getting other people interested in deserving children in a country a long way away, so I need to be slightly innovative and put a lot of personal commitment into this.

A friend of mine, A, suggested on New Year’s Eve that I could be sponsored to jump out of a plane. I was horrified at her suggestion as I am very bad with heights. The thought of flinging myself out of a plane several thousand feet in the air, strapped to a complete stranger brought me out in a cold sweat. But that’s the point – it needs to be a challenge and perhaps, in raising funds I can face some things I have always thought were too hard to achieve.

So project number one – jump out of a plane.


I have discovered I can do this relatively cheaply close to Auckland. I seem to fit within their safety parameters so all I need is a fine day, some people willing to sponsor me and I will get cracking.

However, that may not be enough so I will need to generate some more ideas for example –

  • Arrange a speed dating night
  • Hire myself out as a Girl Friday to do jobs other people hate (cleaning ovens etc.)
  • Host a BBQ with our home grown produce and own beef for a donation (sshh don’t tell the cows)
  • Get covered with beasties/creepy crawlies for money (thank god there are no snakes in this country as that one BIG phobia I have)

I would love to hear any other ideas, however wacky, to raise funds – so if you have any ideas, or want to contribute to this very worthy cause, send me a comment – I would love to hear from you! I will write about how I am getting on.

So in the meantime, Happy New Year and I hope you have all got some great things planned. If not, why not draw up a wish list of things you want to do and get cracking on making them happen.