Category Archives: Miscellaneous

No April & May Monthly Favourite Posts

As you guys know, April and May haven’t been the greatest months for me personally.

In April my mum was poorly and I took a break from blogging and tweeting to look after the family while she was in hospital, which meant I wasn’t able to do my April monthly favourites [I explained it more here]. The good news was she was allowed home at the beginning of May, just in time for her birthday, and I managed to bake her one of her favourite cakes; carrot cake [a gluten free one of course].

Sadly the day of her birthday, my wonderful Grandad Dennis passed away.

[Grandad, my little cousins, me and my brother]

It was really unexpected. He’d come to see my mum the day before, to pass her her birthday card, see me and Kiki [he loved that little ferret] and also watch an old family video we have of him when he was really young. He was on top form, laughing along to the video, trying to stop Kiki running up his trouser leg and being his usual witty self. Little did I know that’d be the last time I see him again.

I loved my Grandad more than anything. I would always send him little ‘I love you’ cards to remind him that although I’m all the way in Manchester, I still think of him everyday, I’d send him little letters to tell him what I’d been up to and also send him funny pictures of Kiki. When my mum and my auntie went to his flat after he passed away, they found all the photos, letters and cards I’d sent him, he’d kept every single one.

So…. as you can see, April and May have been pretty crap months, the crappiest so far. I suppose the only redeeming factor about May was that we’ve had some pretty all right weather [although I’m typing this on the one day it’s chucking it down!]. It’s because of the fact it’s been pretty… crap, that I’m not going to do my usual ‘gluten free monthly favourites’ for April and May, although it’ll start again in June!

 

London Allergy & Free From Show 2012 [Guest Blog Post]

As most, if not all of you know [unless you’ve been living under a rock these passed few weeks]  London hosted the 2012 Allergy and Free From Show, and twitter was a buzz with everyone tweeting how amazing it was and how much fun they had!

However, some of us weren’t so lucky to be able to attend and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who looked on enviously at the tweets during that weekend! But fear not my free from friends, as there’s another one this year and it’s in Liverpool!  So all us Northern Folk don’t have to travel that far to attend the show!

But I bet you’re wondering what to expect, you’re thinking what’s it’s actually all about and debating whether or not it’s worth attending! Well, my free from peeps, the lovely Kevin Gollop has kindly agreed to do a guest blog for y’all and let you know what happens at an Allergy & Free From Show!

Kevins Guest Blog Post 

“Hi all! My name is Kevin Gollop (@kgollop for those of you on Twitter) and I am fresh back from a great trip to London for the Allergy and Free From Show. I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease last year so this was my first visit to the event. Saara has very kindly invited me to share my experience of the day, to give those of you who could not make it an idea of what goes on.

My wife, Abby, and I decided to visit the show on Saturday. We travelled up all the way from Plymouth, so decided to make a weekend of it. This was a great decision (more on this later). I woke up on the Saturday morning bursting with excitement; I never would have thought a year ago that I’d ever be so excited to attend an allergy show. How life has changed!

A short walk from our hotel in Kensington and we arrived at Olympia just after the 10am start time. We handed over our free tickets (courtesy of this very blog – thanks Saara!), and were welcomed to the show with a goodie bag. We entered the huge hall and there were stands everywhere, over 160 in total! Where do we start? It was a little overwhelming so we stopped to buy a program with a detailed map.

Food Samples, Goody Bags & Meet Ups 

 

The first stand we stopped at offered a selection of curry samples, very tasty and then they offered us some chutneys. They put some on gluten bread for Abby, and were then about to use the same spoon to put some on gluten free bread for me! Abby let them know in no uncertain terms that they’d just contaminated the chutney and this would make me very ill. Off to a bad start but I survived the scare!

Next we stopped by the Ms Cupcake stand and tried some samples, before buying a couple of very impressive looking cupcakes. I must admit to having a mild panic after trying the cake samples, it seemed so alien to be able to take cake samples from a tray I was a bit afraid at first. I must have said “and this is definitely gluten free right?!” about 1000 times on the day.

The next stand and another goodie bag from Sainsbury’s, and we decided we maybe should be a bit more selective before we ended up with more than we could carry! New tactic was to browse first and come back for stuff just before we leave. As it turned out, most of the stands were just giving taster samples rather than goodie bags to take away.

All the big players such as Coeliac UK, Glutafin, Dietary Specials, Marks & Spencer, Doves Farm, Tesco and Genius were all present. It was great to see Fria there too as I’d heard many good things but never got to sample them. Their bread was great, but their chocolate cake was even better! I was one of the lucky few to get a goodie bag from the lovely Monika at Fria too which was a bonus.

It was some of the smaller companies at the show which were the highlight for me though. Clives Pies from Buckfastleigh in Devon (close to home) offered some delicious pies, full of flavour. I’ll definitely be tracking them down now I’m home. Sweetcheeks Ltd offered some amazing cup cakes, and I was more than happy to buy a box of six to take home (they didn’t last long!). There were some decent offers on too, I picked up four packs of Sakata crackers for a fiver with a bag for life thrown in.

While there we took the opportunity so meet up with several of the gluten free Twitter community. I managed to spend an hour and a half chatting to some of the tweeps after a “tweet-up” organised by the fabulous Siân Drew (@GlutenFreeMrsD). This was one of the highlights of the day for me and it was great to meet some other coeliacs to chat with, and to say hi to some lovely people who have helped me so much with my coeliac journey over the past year. It was also good to say hello to Alex Gazolla (@HealthJourno) on the Free From Awards stand.

Also available at the show was a series of seminars, cooking demonstrations and workshops that you could attend for more information. To be honest I spent so much time gabbing at the tweet-up that we didn’t really have time for this. Overall it was a great experience and we went homes stuffed (the organic sausage from Supreme Sausages on a Warburtons bap for lunch helped with that!). It was great to meet so many enthusiastic people on the stands and try so many new things. It was also just nice to be in an environment where I was “normal” for the day too. I’d really recommend a visit to the show for anyone who hasn’t been. Be careful though, some of the free from food offerings are dairy free, nut free etc and not gluten free. Always check before eating anything!

I didn’t get many good photos, but pay a visit to The Live Gluten Free website who did.

Eating Out in London 

 

What I would say, is if you are going to make the effort to go to London then make a weekend of it. While we were there we took the time to visit some amazing gluten free friendly restaurants. We were lucky enough to get some brilliant recommendations from Siân, and it really helped make the time away amazing. Thanks again Siân! We visited Wahaca (Mexican), Honest Burger (amazing burger in a glutenfree bun), Leons (twice) and I had an incredible gluten free deep dish meatball pizza at Otto. Honest Burger and Otto even had gluten free beer! All of these places also offered great vegetarian options for Abby too.

We of course went to see some of the sites and I got dragged to some shops too. Whole Food Market has lots of gluten free offerings and was worth a visit. It was an incredible three days away, so much great gluten free food I was fit to burst by the time we set off back to Plymouth! I’m sure we’ll be going back next year, and I hope to meet some of you at the next tweet-up”

* * *

 

Don’t forget to claim your FREE TICKETS for the Liverpool Allergy and Free From Show [27th – 28th October 2012]

The Manchester Gluten Free World Show

I would have blogged about this sooner but as you’re all aware, this week I’ve been pretty poorly. First it started off as the usual symptoms of when you’ve been ‘glutened’, followed by a weird case of ‘funky fog‘ and then that changed to vomit city! *groan*. It’s been so rubbish that I’ve barely tweeted or even gone outside and enjoyed the  glorious sunshine we’ve been having in England! Knowing my luck, the day I feel a little better, the sun will have exhausted itself and I’ll be welcomed back with grey clouds, rain and gale force winds. However, I’m feeling a little perky today [although still not 100%] so I thought it’d be a great opportunity to do a lil blog post!

So I was kindly invited by the amazing people from Dietary Specials to come along to their Manchester Gluten Free World Show on Saturday! I took along one of my ‘bezzie’ mates Amy who happens to be wheat/gluten intolerant too, which is lucky for me as it’s nice having someone in your close knit circle of friends who knows exactly what you’re going through.

We arrived fashionably late at the Renaissance Hotel in Manchester for the morning session. We we’re allowed to go into this big hall to see all the stands of gluten free samples before others and try out all the lovely gluten free food before the stampede. Naturally me and Amy stuffed our faces with all the gluten free foods on offer, especially the Glutafin Fresh Brown Bread [god almighty, that was some nice bread! I must have had about 20 pieces!]

[Glutafin Baguette and Glutafin Brown Bread]

The Dietary Specials stand, which was manned by the lovely Becky from D.S,  had their frozen food on as samples and I was happy they had their famous Bonta D’Italia on the sample stand and understandably, I had quite a few slices! Another great product was their gluten free Sausage Rolls which Amy had never seen before! She said they tasted just like how she remembered when she’d get them from Greggs!

[Dietary Specials Sausage Rolls, Pizza and Ciabatta Bread]

However the most busiest stand that day had to be the TruFree stand, because that’s where they had their gluten free biscuit samples! They also had an offer on where you could buy two boxes of biscuits for £2! So I stocked up on their amazing chocolate fingers and their gluten free digestive biscuits [which you can buy from their online store]

After all the sampling, it was time for a presentation by Jackie, the lovely dietician who’d come along to support the Gluten Free Day.  The presentation was great for those who have just been newly diagnosed as  she talked about reading labels on products and how to maintain a healthy diet. However, I felt that Jackie talked more about eating healthy, finding the right portions and carbohydrates, protein and sodium etc. For instance, when she discussed about reading labels, there was more talk about looking at the sodium content and only briefly talked about looking for wheat and gluten in the ingredients list. However, when Jackie wasn’t presenting, she was on hand to talk to anybody who had any queries and questions which I thought was lovely.

Sadly, I wasn’t well enough to carry on and wait for the cooking demonstration by Coeliac UK‘s ‘Gluten Free Chef of the Year’ who would be showing others the fantastic things to make using Glutafin’s Multi-purpose Flour [which we got in our goody bag when we left – along with other Glutafin products!]. I’m gutted I missed it but I will definitely be going along to their next one, it was great to be amongst other sufferers and meet new people…. [and of course stuff my face with the gluten free delights!]