Alison Goulding: Keep the hot drinks coming

Cup of coffee

Cup of coffee

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SOMETIMES you have to stare reality in the eye and realise you are surviving large chunks of your waking life through the consoling properties of hot drinks.

I realised this in the early hours of Saturday morning as I crawled out of bed to go to the stables for a much-needed training session.

While I failed to summon up the energy to brush my hair, or my teeth, or do the flies up on my jeans, I did manage to make myself a small flask of strong tea.

It’s all a question of priorities ... being armed with a flask of strong tea is the equivalent of being the hero in the film with the best gun.

You’re just going to do better and last longer than the guy with the homemade catapult.

Anyway, a strange fact of life is that anything horsey involves getting out of bed when it’s still dark and the wind is howling.

I’ve no idea why.

I used to think it was because the horses themselves woke up at sparrow fart, raring to go, but the truth is that at 5am in the morning I have to clash dustbin lids together to get Cady to even open one eye, never mind both.

Arriving at the stables I indeed found that she was still snoring, but after a protracted tussle where she tried to bury herself under the straw, I managed to dig her out like a teenager from under a duvet and throw a bridle on her while she tried to kick me.

Stumbling into the arena I found an even keener friend and her horse waiting for everything to start.

We blinked at each other through the gloom and realised we were both clutching our flasks in the way a drowning man might hang onto a small piece of driftwood.

Ten seconds later and our instructor arrived in a state of distress.

She had tried to call in at her sister’s house to, you guessed it, make herself a flask of coffee, but found everyone asleep and ignoring her frantic door knocking.

Anyone with a hobby that involves getting up at stupid o’ clock will have a vast collection of flasks.

Personally I have more thermos thingies than I do normal mugs. The brighter the better – my current favourite is a rather fetching shade of metallic purple which elevates my mood by at least ten per cent every time I look at.

What you put inside it is pretty important too. The rules are:

A. Must contain caffeine

B. A dash of booze is optional, but preferable

C. Anything with less than two sugars is as much good as a chocolate teapot.

Remember that ratty bit of blanket you used to drag around as a child? This is the grown-up equivalent.

Fact – you can negotiate most things if there’s a hot drink and a biscuit at the end of it.

Where would I be without my flask?

Probably still asleep, safe and warm, like normal people.