London Calling // Shoreditch Street Art……

cool bananas, cool bananas blog, london street art, shoreditch

I’d say that on average, I visit London at least once a week. Usually, this is for something work or blog related: It’s a short 17 minute journey on the train into London Bridge (add another 6 minutes for central London, & Charring cross) & for the most part I manage to avoid the hoards of commuters during the morning rush hour period. I’d like to think I take full advantage of popping into town………..

But, if there is something I’m guilty of though, apart from wearing too much black & sporting a slightly glum look on my face, (both which are an obligatory part of living/ working/ commuting in London. FACT) it’s taking London for granted: Never making enough time to take in the sights, the atmosphere & grander of the capital, & fully appreciating what a bloody great place this is, I call home. View Post

The Trouble with travelling & Coeliac disease

My trouble with traveling & being a ‘coeliac’. Enter Grumpy face (apologies in advance):

Grrrrrr. Travelling in London with Coeliac disease makes me pull this face. How unattractive!!

Grrrrrr. Travelling in London with Coeliac disease makes me pull this face. How unattractive!!

Off on a adventure? Regardless of the duration that your journey takes, I’m prepared to bet my bottom dollar that your bag will no doubt weigh a ton. You’ll want to be well prepared with food so that you’re never caught out. & Here lies another grumble of mine: this form of weight lifting contributes to my back shouting ‘owchieeee’ & pain that I could just do with out, thanks. Now in this instance, my example rant is just of a London trip, across the capital for a day of boring & laborious appointments. Traveling abroad? Well, that’s a topic worthy of its own post entirely.

oh, 'ello, 'ello London. We meet again

oh, ‘ello, ‘ello London. We meet again

I’m writing this from the waiting room of a major London hospital. & I happen think the worst place I’ve found for grabbing a ‘quick’ on the go lunch or snack free of gluten monsters are: Hospitals. The very place that’s supposed help contribute towards being ‘healthy’ (overlooking the germs & seasonal rounds of diarrhea & vomiting, but you get my drift) is the very place I fear the most for finding gluten free grub. The on site canteen may have a few options, but quite honestly looks like the dogs dinner, a monstrous pile of ‘slop‘ that I’d rather run in the opposite direction from than actually consume. You’ll find most London based hospitals now have the obligatory high street-franchised ‘coffee’ shop, oh & surprise surprise; they have absolutely no gluten free foods. Zilch. Bloody brilliant, isn’t it? Maybe I talk in a foreign tongue, for when in either of these establishments I ask the staff: what (if any) produce is gluten free? My question is often met by a blank expression & the really helpful response ‘what is gluten?‚Äô. (Um, that’ll be ‘nothing’ then?)

I don’t expect bob & his uncle (who is bob anyway?) to have a textbook understanding of coeliac disease & a encyclopedia full of gluten free products. I do think, those who are selling food should be educated/ wise with the knowledge to some level of their produce. After all, I’m not asking them to run off the whole list of ingredients. & To the point, they’re still a ‘sales(wo)man’ to some capacity, & you’re hardly ‘selling’ it to me with your blank reaction.

If you’re traveling to a static destination then I think these woes are put to rest somewhat. & If you have the luxury of time to research & find a gluten free ‘hero’ cafe & plan a diversion, this is all well & good. But on-the-go no time for diverting fills me with a little dread. What about you?

I did see on twitter just this last week that Warburton‚Äôs dedicated Gluten free range: Newburn bakehouse are now stocking a ‘wrap’ option in limited Starbucks‚Äô outlets. & Whilst I applaud this, I emphasise the limited. On the subject of Newburn bakehouse, have you tried their wraps? In old fashioned ‚Äòblue peter‚Äô style‚Ķ.here is one I made earlier.

Mmm, gluten free wrap

Mmm, gluten free wrap- Brie & Rocket

I’ve also heard from fellow coeliac sufferers, that Café Nero is supposed to stock some gluten free sarnies, but it appears we are still waiting for this to materialize. Part of the issue in theses ‘high street’ outlets stocking good ole gluten free grab & go food, could in part be down to the lack of clarity on their products & packaging (& I refer you back to my previous point earlier about staff knowledge). Lets be honest, we generally have to exhaust the ingredients list to rule out any gluten nastiness, & when time is of the essence this just isn’t practical. If you’re anything like me & have doubts you just don’t take the risk.

In the same way that the UK high street & town scene has adopted the ‘café culture’ where you can easily take your pick from at least 3 coffee shops all within a stones throw of each other, I’m hopeful* for a future of ‘gluten-free-in-abundance-culture’. A future that sees all these said ‘cawfeee’ shops have on offer: several clearly marked, reasonable priced, gluten free ‘take out’ options. *Wishful might be more fitting!

At least on my homebound journey I can report that my bag, which at the start of the day nearly touched the floor, is now considerably lighter (after ingesting my yum yums) & I can relax knowing I’m heading back to my gluten free comfort zone.

Buh Bye London, you stayed dry today-bonus!

Buh Bye London, you stayed dry today-bonus!

 

 

Chinese New Year….London 2014 Year of the Horse

 

 

Sweet dreams are made of these
I love The Chinese New year celebrations. Having spent my childhood growing up in South East Asia, the memories that are evoked by this colourful celebration are a pure joy to me. The loud steel drums, the noise of fire crackers, dancing dragons and spinning Lions all produce a grin on my face comparable to that of a cheshire cat! Oh, & if anyone is generous enough to present a red envelope that’s a wonderful treat! I remember that if we were lucky enough to be travelling through Singapore around the same time as the festivities, it was an absolute delight. ¬†That being said, the London CNY celebrations are apparently the biggest outside of Asia.

Chinese new year. London parade 2014

Chinese new year. London parade 2014

Since my little bear was born, I’ve yearned to attend the London parade & share with him this cultural delight. It’s taken us 2 years to get there! In the past we’d been plagued with bad weather. & quite frankly we’ve had to prepare ourselves for a London excursion with our mini explorer. ¬†He’s like a Duracell bunny. Non stop. Like he has ants in his pants. & trying to time the trip around his much needed nap (which if he misses out on trust me, you ought to run for the hills before all hell breaks loose!), it just all seemed too much hassle. Not this year! We took the plunge & boy I’m glad we did. With London basking in some overdue winter sunshine, it was beautiful (all be it very fresh!).

St. martin in the fields basking in the morning sunshine. The parade started from here

St. martin in the fields basking in the morning sunshine. The parade started from here.

I can safely say that my boy bear is now wholeheartedly obsessed with Trains & I think I may have found his kryptonite. He actually sat still for the entire journey! In total awe. Amazing. As for the parade? Well, he had far more important things to investigate. Charging up & down St. Martin’s Place & checking out the church. He was however very happy to see a super sized rubber duck in the parade!

A rubber duck in the Chinese new year London parade?

A rubber duck in the Chinese new year London parade? Far left in this pic are ma’boys- Daddy bear in a yellow jacket & boy bear up on his sholders for a good view!

Chinese New Year is one of China’s oldest festivals chock-full of ancient traditions & interesting history. & one that I find fascinating to expand my knowledge of. For a couple of minutes on Sunday I felt as though if I shut my eyes, I had returned to the balmy climes of South East Asia.¬†Don’t get me wrong the¬†London parade can’t compare to the celebrations over in Asia, but until the day when I can return there & celebrate in style, it was a reasonable substitute & I would happily visit again.

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Oh & yes. I attempted some gluten free Chinese food. Tasted good-looked awful! I tried sesame prawn toast. I used genius bread, & made a paste out of:

  • prawns
  • kikkoman tamari soy sauce (GF)
  • olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • & a small piece of ginger

I mixed this all in a blender & then spread the paste onto the bread, covered the pasted area in sesame seeds & then fried in a pan with some olive oil. I think next time I will oven cook them, for 20 mins or so to make them more crispy. Please forgive the picture it’s a terrible quality & not very pretty prawn toast!

Gluten free sesame prawn toast

Gluten free sesame prawn toast. Yummy!

With these, we had Cook GF Thai red chicken Curry & Szechuan Chicken, & some jasmine rice. A satisfying Gluten free Chinese Meal.

May the Horse bring you good fortune for 2014!