It’s been a while – the times they are a changing

What a start to the year. My daughter delivered us a second grandchild in early February. Since our abortive attempt to sell the house back in the summer (post-BREXIT poll), we have had a lot of work done on the house. We’ve decided to take a break for a couple of months to get our second wind, then start round 2.

The winter weather hasn’t been particularly condusive to going out for rides (I learnt my lesson last year when I came off on black ice – very painful). Now the weather is improving, I have been able to get out and test my new toys for this year, a helmet cam and mic – essential with the quality/attitude of road users here in the UK. I had a very enjoyable outing to a biker cafe in Hampshire, called Loomies – here’s a short video for anyone that’s interested – Ride down to Loomies

Nothing really to report on the Coeliac front. The availability of products (at a price) in the mainstream supermarkets continues and since legislation in the UK Parliament, eating out is a lot easier. I do wish that restaurants wouldn’t drop a 3 inch thick ring-binder in front of me for ME to check what I can eat. The more forward thinking restaurants either flag options on their menu, or even better have a completely separate menu – YAY.

Hope you’re having a good start to the year. Thanks for reading

Being a Coeliac – whats it like where you are?

Where do I start? I was diagnosed as a Coeliac late in life(2013 to be precise at the age of 57). At the time, it was a bit overwhelming for me and my family. The first time shopping was a nightmare as all the labels had to be read! I am pleased to say that since 2013, the situation with regard to the availability of Gluten Free products has improved greatly(in large part due to the efforts of Coeliac UK ) . Eating Gluten Free at home is easy now and I am pleased to say the occurrences of ‘being glutened’ are thankfully few and far between.

Eating out is where the challenge lies. The UK government DID bring out legislation to help (and it has), but the response of restuarants big and small is pretty much across the spectrum. Restauarant staff Coeliac awareness is much better. What lets many eatries down is how they deal with Coeliacs.

The more enlightened ones(Bella Italia, Pizza Express, Handmade Burger Company, to name but a few) have updated their menus to clearly indicate which options are available to Coeliacs, some have even gained certification from Coeliac UK. Others seem to consider this too much effort and their response is to drop a huge folder of information on my lap and leave it to me to decipher what I can eat, based on their use of icons etc. Not good enough. When I go out to eat, I want to be able to pick something Gluten Free without making a drama of it.Too often I take the easy option as I cant be bothered to take the time to read through all their matierial. I do have a good idea whats ‘Safe’ after 3 years (although can still be caught out).

Hotels are much the same. I stayed at one recently that looked very promising. Gluten Free cereal, bread for toast, but oh dear, ask for Gluten Free sausages  with a cooked breakfast?

I have had some very positive side effects from being Gluten Free. I feel the best I have every felt health-wise. Asthma that has plagued me since birth has gone completely.  I have started experimenting with drinking normal beer to see what happens . Nothing untoward so far. Easy steps.

So, in the UK, its getting easier all the time. If we can just crack eating out… How is it where YOU are? I’d be very interested to hear. Thanks for reading.

 

Well into Year 2 PI

No not the mathematical PI, the PI here means Post-IBM (sorry!). I parted company with IBM UK on January 6th 2015. Its been an interesting 20 months. When I left, I was still very focused on continuing to work. I did a small amount of work as an independent, but actually came to the conclusion i enjoyed NOT working more. So I guess I have moved from semi-retired to COMPLETELY retired.

One of the non-technology options I did a lot of research on was setting up a Gluten Free shop in my local town. I spent a lot of time researching what the major supermarkets offer to see where a niche could be. As it turns out, the supermarkets have broadened their ranges greatly, leaving little space for a small independent shop. Add to that the initial set up costs and it rapidly became non-viable.

I did (earlier this year) pass my motorbike tests and gained my licence. I subsequently  bought a new bike and have been having a lot of fun – earlier in the year I made a ‘road-trip’ to visit a friend on the Dingle Peninsula in SouthWest Ireland, which was fabulous and documented in an earlier post.

I became a grandparent last year and early next year will become a grandparent x 2!  Its a strange feeling.

BREXIT seems to have scuppered our plans to downsize, so we have parked the idea for now and are upgrading our existing house. I did vote to stay, but have to say that given the way the EU seems to be going, I think BREXIT may be the right choice. Nuff said.

So, Summer is definitely over, at least in my part of the UK. Christmas is 3 months away. Where has the year gone? Thanks for reading this short update.

2 Years a Coeliac

Time for an update on my Gluten Free journey. I was diagnosed as a Coeliac on December 6th, 2013. My previous update can be read here(Earlier Coeliac Article). I am in the process of having a 2 year review (Endoscopy done, blood test and session with consultant due in early 2016). It’s looking good, it seems that the damage done has healed well.

I have to say I feel the best I have EVER felt. So much so, that my lifelong Asthma has disappeared – which I can only attribute to becoming Gluten Free. When I realised what had happened and polled a couple of Facebook groups I belonged to, others seem to have seen positive benefits to their overall health. Admittedly, some had seen the development of some issues also, but it has been a great experience for me.

It was a shock at first when I considered all the things I could no longer eat or drink– the most disappointing was the removal of real ale! But, overall, things have never been better (mostly). More and more Gluten Free products are becoming available(including Beer/Lager – YAY), although the prices are still high. Restaurants are now legally obliged to indicate GF offerings on their menus.

I do occasionally get ‘Glutened’, i.e. eat something containing Gluten, but thankfully it’s happening less and less. I am finding that now I am Gluten Free, being ‘Glutened’ is not something I want to happen as its impact is more severe now than it used to be.

Coeliac UK (UK Coeliac Charity) are doing a great job of raising awareness as well as alerting when products have challenges. One of the mainstream supermarkets in the UK actually included Gluten Free offerings in their Christmas advertising.

I have finally mastered the art of Gluten Free Yorkshire Puddings, Stuffing and Dumplings… now if I could just come up with a foolproof recipe for bread, I’d make a fortune.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the break over the festive season and a happy new year.

So.. an update on the Coeliac/Gluten Free Journey….

I’ve now been Gluten Free for about 18 months. Their was a steep learning curve. It took me a while to get to grips with the finer points. Over the 18 months the situation with many of the supermarkets has improved greatly. Legislation to accomodate allergy sufferers in restaurants has helped greatly. Their are those of ‘US’ who HAVE to be Gluten Free, those who choose to be Gluten Free. There have been quite a lot of articles about the ‘FAD’ of Gluten Free and it expense (no arguments from me re the cost – it SERIOUSLY needs to reduce).

Speaking for myself, I feel the best I have ever felt. I had a long term condition, Asthma, which has all but disappeared since I ‘ve been Gluten Free. I did a completely unscientific survey on Facebook (more on that later) and found a number of people who seem to have seen an improvement. Of course there where also folk who seem to have picked up problems.

Facebook. In my view a modern curse. I DID join a couple of Facebook groups for Coeliacs. Iwas amazed at peoples propensity to publish THEIR medical data and ask the group what they thought… REALLY? Their was also a growing trend for people who seemed to lack the abiity to read or use their brains to take pictures of the ingredients off a product and ask if they could eat it! My newsfeed stream was full of this, so I left.

My plans for a shop are on hold – given the way things have changed with Supermarkets and the set up cost, its prohibitive . I’m still looking for that ultimate Gluten Free idea.

The Allergy and Free From show was invaluable in the first year. I recently returned to the 2015 show and decided that there wasn’t enough different to justify the trip to London.

I still get caught out. Mostly by sauces that get put on Steaks.. but I’m getting there.

At the beginning, It seemed like an impossible cliff – how was I going to eat given the limits. 18 months later, its a way of life.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed

Its been a while .. just what have I been up to?

Its been a while since I posted… since I left my previous employer, life seems to have been very busy. I honestly don’t know how I found the time to work! Things are ticking along from a Gluten-Free/Coeliac perspective. I am still trying to find a real, physical space that I could use to open a shop in, but the costs are prohibitive at the moment. Oh and I have offered my services to Coeliac UK as a governor – waiting to hear what the next steps on that will be. BTW.. if anyone out there knows of an eatable recipe for GF Dumplings I’d love to hear from you! All my attempts have failed miserably so far.

Learning to ride a motorbike. Well the good news is that I passed the theory test. The weather was against me back in February, so its on the agenda to be revisited in April, when hopefully the weather will be kinder. I still plan to be on the road as a fully licenced ‘Biker’ by late summer.

My trip ‘Up North’ is all booked up for me to do the Lyke Wake Walk the day before MidSummers Day (Scary thought eh as we are in early March!).

Finally I am still working on getting my consulting business going – lots of potential.. but its all just potential at the moment.

Have a great week.

Thanks for reading,.

X marks the spot….

Ok, so here’s the picture to support the title 🙂 This was taken around 7am (I think).

DSCN1411

Haven’t been here much lately – since I left my erstwhile employer of getting on for 16 years (IBM) I’ve been a tad busy one way and another. Mysteriously, my wife has a HUGE list of jobs that have suddenly become urgent, plus I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to do in the next phase of my ‘career’. Ok, I’ve boiled it down to 3 things..

  1. Keep my technical hands in by doing the occasional piece of freelance technology consultancy… lots to do here with creating a company, setting up accounts etc, Different and something I have never done before.
  2. FINALLY learn to ride a motorbike. Like many when I was young I spent time flying around a field on a bike that was most likely a deathtrap but we didnt care… (thats in the schedule for February).
  3. Something completely outside my comfort zone. I am exploring the possibility of opening a shop to focus on selling Gluten Free produce. (The Norfolk Gluten Free Company have been amazingly helpful.. if you live in or near Norwich and need to buy GF products you should look them up http://norfolkglutenfree.co.uk/ ).

I now feel fit enough to tackle the Lyke Wake Walk again(see a previous post), so thats in the schedule for mid-summer and then as next years birthday  is a major milestone – I am planning on doing a hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.

Lots to look foward to (and corresponding posts for anyone that wants to follow). Thanks for reading.