So – a Gluten-Free Update – Over the hills and far away…

Its been a busy couple of weeks. I made my first overseas trip since being diagnosed. It was a 2 day training course in Nice in the South of France (oh that I had time to make this post more attractive by adding some pictures), but it was a business trip – a short, very intensive long 2 day session – still at least the weather was ok(for that read it wasnt raining!).

Before I went I notified the course organisers of my dietary needs, who duly advised the restaurant where we were due to have a course dinner on the Wednesday evening. Sorted? Well not quite. Unfortunately, the company canteen where we had the course didnt get the message. Luckily I managed to suss out what I thought would be ok the first day(and seemed to get away with it).

The meal out was actually enjoyable – although Gluten Free seemed to mean Vegetarian but it was ok. The following morning Breakfast was a cup of coffee (the pastries looked delicious.. but non!). Lunch was something salady.. pastries were much in evidence in the breaks which really just served to underline my ‘specialness’ lol.

We then had a 4 hour wait at the airport where again I struggled to find something I could eat(typical abundance of Gluten FULL offerings and poor schoolboy french conspired to keep me hungry. By the time I got home I was ravenous.. Although… it DID give me the excuse (like I need one) to eat a lot over the weekend.

Now to those of you who are Coeliacs veterans, none of this is new. It was an experience for me and one in which several lessons were learnt, most important of which (to me) is to make sure I take something snacky to help assuage the pangs of hunger.

Oh.. did I mention I am going to Kefalonia for 2 weeks for my summer holidays… ? Cant wait!

Thanks for reading and persevering to the bitter end.


Ents are alive and well (and living in Sandhurst!)

Ents are alive and well (and living in Sandhurst!)

Yes I know they arent real.. but.. for some reason, this picture reminded me of one of the ents from J.R.R Tolkiens awesome fantasy, Lord of the RIngs. I wouldnt have been surprised if it started talking to me (it didnt!) or even set off through the wood. We do have a lot of gnarly pine trees in the woods…. you never know.
Happy Monday.
ps – Maybe we should have a Tolkien themed tuesday challenge ? ;-()

Well that was fun….

Well that was fun....

Ok, a bit symbolic – this is the Danger flag – several of which are posted along the fence of the Royal Military College to warn that the ranges are in use. Luckily the ranges are parallel to the fence, so no danger to us.
The flag is a bit tattered which isnt really surprising given the winds we suffered yesterday – a high of I think 106mph in North Wales. Nowhere near that where I live thank goodness, plus we haven’t suffered any power outages as yet. Its at times like this that I am thankful we live on a hill 240 feet above sea level. But there are a lot of folks in the west of england suffering from flooding and additionally in certain areas no power. Nature can really sock it to us when it throws its toys out of the pram.
At the moment, we are in the calm before the next storm which is due to hit overnight with more heavy rain on top of already sodden ground (in some places their is so much pressure of water in the ground its being forced back up to the surface). At some point this will stop.. many people are counting the days.
The picture below was taken today to show that we DO get some sunshine.. occasionally!


The O2 Arena – a London Icon

The O2 Arena - a London Icon

Not a flattering picture of the O2 arena, but it was the only way I could get in the scale of the place. The building works in the foreground (the view is from the West looking East) is a new hotel that is being built(The Blackwall Tunnel runs underneath here).
It was my first trip to the O2 Arena (aka The Millenium Dome) and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.

My wife and a friend went in to see the ‘Strictly Come Dancing Live’ tour, so us two hubbies had a couple of hours to kill. Having never been to the O2, I was interested to see how easy it would be to get there – no problem, the Jubilee line runs straight to North Greenwich. Their is also an option of a Riverbus service from The London Eye(near Waterloo) and a couple of other stops along the way. If you are coming from North of the O2 their is also the option of the Emirates Airline (A HUGE cablecar which runs between Stratford and North Greenwich┬á sadly it was closed when we were there due to the high winds).

The O2 have also just opened an ‘attraction’ which allows fit people(when you see the slope you’ll understand why) the option to climb to the top of the dome via a specially constructed walkway (safety harnesses are worn).

I hadnt appreciated the size of the dome. See the pics below – the first is the entrance hall…

O2 Arena Entrance

O2 Arena Entrance

Outside their is a very interesting Spike. The pic below was taken between showers with the sun catching the angled faces..

And to give an idea of the size INSIDE…



So, if you’re in London at a loose end I can thoroughly recommend a trip to the O2 Arena, North Greenwich. Certainly a very pleasant way to spend a half day. I will be returning.. I have to do the walk over the O2 and I want to take some pictures from the Cable car….



This was from a couple of years ago. Not too far North of where we are their is a 16 square mile Pine Forest (Swinley Forest), part of the Crown Estate, that I use as a training area for my endurance walks. This was the scene late one sunday afternoon in May, 2011, after a forest fire had been burning for a couple of hours.

Spookily, I had walked the dog along the edge of the wood that morning and had caught the odd whiff of smoke. Because of where it was, their were huge logistics problems for the fire service attempting to contain and extinguish it. I cant remember how many engines were needed, but I do recollect their were over 300 firemen fighting it at its height. They had to run hoses over 3 miles to the Royal Military Academy which has a huge lake for water. Their were some spectacular pictures posted of flames leaping across a road(which ended up being closed for about 2 weeks).

The wind was blowing the flames and smoke west. I had to drive through the village of Crowthorne to pick up my daughter and it was like driving through very dense fog(a bit like a scene out of the film, The Fog!). Very difficult to breath too.

Lessons have been learned. Their are now serious firebreaks on both sides of the road to stop the flames leaping across.. as well as deep ditches too. The smell of burnt wood lasted for about a month or more. A major challenge for the fire service was that for a while, the peat was burning underground, causing new outbreaks.

What amazed me was that families were going out on their bikes into the forest to ‘have a look’ putting themselves and potentially the fire service who would need to rescue them at risk. . Luckily no one was hurt. People do do the stupidest things…

So – an update – Gluten – whats that?

Its been a while since I reported my progress. Heading for 2 months since I was diagnosed with Coeliacs and I have to say I think I am doing ok. Have had one or 2 slips along the way(which actually dispelled any lingering doubts I might have had around the fact that i actually DO have Coeliacs).

What have I learnt? Well once the initial shock subsided, its just a case of getting on with it. The situation now is much better than I am sure it was even a few years ago, with most Supermarkets having ‘Free From’ ranges and a growth in specialist suppliers. Meals out can be interesting, but I’m getting the hang of the necessary prep before we go out now. Most of the restaraunt chains are at least aware now(one of the most recent visits we had they had actually hand-marked on a menu the dishes I could eat – which I thought was great customer service,

Home cooked food is obviously much easier – in fact a major milestone today – I made some Gluten Free sausage rolls.. not a major culinary creation I’ll admit.. but.. it all helps. Trying for a Gluten Free meatloaf tomorrow..

Its getting easier now. I’m getting into the routine. Who needs Gluten?