Buy British Day: Some Of Our Favourites

October 3, 2015 in Food and Drink, Gifts, Gluten Free

Today (the 3rd of October) is the second annual Buy British Day. So I thought I’d share some of the British products our family loves!

First things first, Tobermory Chocolates. Full disclosure, as always, let me say that this company is owned by my friend’s family. Regardless of this fact, I love their chocolates!! Handmade, luxurious and such a treat! If you’re ever in Tobermory they have a lovely shop and cafe.

When it comes to chocolate brownies, Gower Cottage Brownies cannot be beaten in my opinion. Plus she does gluten free ones too!!

Moving onto alcohol…

Mum is a fan of The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Husband loves the beers by Williams Brothers

My favourite cider EVER is by Gwynt Y Ddraig

 

Ok, I need to stop with the food and drink!

One of my favourite stationery companies is Dots and Spots – Becky has such a beautiful range and I like to stock up on her cards & wrap so that I’ve always got some in the house.

When it comes to candles, the Isle of Skye Candle Company is a popular choice in our family. Personally, I love the Vanilla & Fig.

I could go on… and on… but that’s just a selection of our favourite British products.

I’d love to hear what your favourite British products are? 

Also, for today only Make It British has a HUGE Buy British giveaway running – be sure to check it out!

As always, there are no affiliate links or anything like that in this post.

What We’re Loving… Father’s Day Edition

May 30, 2014 in Garden, Gifts, Gluten Free, What We're Loving

With Father’s Day fast approaching, this month’s what we’re loving is full of ideas for your Daddy! My Dad is particularly hard to buy for. All he really wants is a quadbike and really that’s a bit outwith my budget! So here are a few more realistic Father’s Day gift ideas.

What We're Loving Badge

One of my top go-to gifts is Gower Cottage Brownies. They are absolutely AMAZING and they do gluten free too! Perfect for Dad’s with a sweet tooth (like mine).

 

My Dad has an obsession with mechanical pencils. Every day in the summer he takes the newspaper out to the garden with a beverage and a mechanical pencil and does the crossword.

Gin is Dad’s summer drink. This Caorunn gin with its Gaelic name (he’s a native speaker) is bound to go down well.

 

Dad loves his vegetable garden. He’s also a great chef. So this Limited Edition Kitchen Garden Box would make a great gift.

Finally, Dad loves a cup of tea. He’s also got a great sense of humour (he’s still a wee boy at heart) so he’d definitely love this Creature Cup.

 

We’d love to hear your Father’s Day gift ideas. Feel free to save them in the comments below.

This is our own round up of Father’s Day gifts. We have not been asked to feature any of these companies. As always, there are no affiliate links here.

Ditching Sugar & Grain For Good

March 12, 2014 in Food and Drink, Gluten Free

Summer must be on the way as everywhere I look I see diets! Now normally I wouldn’t pay any attention but since the majority of the latest “fashionable” diets are actually built around concepts I’ve used for the past two years I’m intrigued.

Let me start from the beginning (ish). Most readers know that I suffer from a chronic illness. We will try anything and everything to help me live my day to day life as normally as possible. As I write I’m in bed, windows open so I can get the fresh spring air in and I’ve been napping and popping painkillers all day, and writing this posts in small chunks. So you see we will try anything if it means that I can cut down on meds, or lie/sit downstairs like a normal person. Two years ago friends told us about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD – not to be confused with Strictly Come Dancing!). Our friends’ son had been extremely ill and they found that this diet was the only thing that helped him. In reading up on this diet they thought that it might actually help me a little too, so we gave it a go.

It’s my husband that does all of the cooking these days and he was more than happy to take on the challenge of this new diet. Basically on SCD you don’t eat grains, you don’t eat potatoes, you only eat certain dairy products and you don’t eat refined sugar. Hubby does however make gorgeous cookies and cakes using ground almonds and honey so that my sweet tooth doesn’t miss out. He also makes homemade yoghurt which is brilliant with fruit.

1. SCD Lemon Meringue Pie, 2. SCD "Ice Cream", 3. SCD Whoopie Pie, 4. SCD Banana Pancakes

1. SCD Lemon Meringue Pie, 2. SCD “Ice Cream”, 3. SCD Whoopie Pie, 4. SCD Banana Pancakes

You can probably see now why I’m actually quite excited about the diet fads this year. Key words like Grain Brain and Paleo are popping up everywhere and making me smile. Why? Until now there’s been very little awareness in the UK with regards to SCD and so we’ve bought recipe books from the US where this diet is more prevalent. Now suddenly “Rhoda-friendly” recipes are popping up every where, it’s brilliant!

In fairness there have been some excellent blogs that have kept us going these last two years as well and given us a great variety in what we eat. However, now when people ask me what my diet entails, instead of seeing that fear in their eyes when you explain everything you don’t eat, you now see understanding and knowledge.

So has SCD helped me? The answer is yes. It’s not a magical cure and physically it hasn’t had a huge impact, however mentally it’s been really good. I suffer from brain fog. Some days are so foggy that I wouldn’t know there’s a real world out there. However since I’ve been on this diet there are fewer of those days than there were. Some days could be classified as misty rather than foggy and, for me, that is a HUGE thing! For long enough I couldn’t hold a conversation with anyone. I’m just glad I’m married to the most patient man on earth as he coaxed me through and supported me. Now though my brain function is much better than it was and I genuinely believe that it’s SCD that’s made the difference.

My husband has been doing the diet along with me, not as strictly though. He’ll eat bread at work and chips or potatoes now and then. He finds he has much more energy than before, in fact he’s even running faster at hockey. He notices a difference if he has a few days “off diet” and reigns in his sugar and grain consumption.

So while I still spend days in bed, need my wheelchair, stairlift, sticks and other gadgets to help me live my life, SCD has made a big impact, it’s given me back my brain. Not all of it, not by far, but it’s given me enough that I can hold a conversation and if that’s as much as this diet does then it’s absolutely worth it in my opinion.

If you’d like to know more about SCD I’d recommend starting with the following websites:

SCD was originally created to help intestinal problems. However as we become more aware of the Gut-Brain relationship, SCD is finding its value across a range of illnesses these days.

Menzies Hotel, Irvine

November 20, 2013 in Accessibility, Days Out, Breaks and Holidays, Dining Out, Gluten Free

Everybody loves a night away don’t they? The thing is you want to make sure that you are getting your money’s worth wherever you end up. I know I do. Whether we are going away for a night or a fortnight I am never fully at ease until we’ve parked, checked in and seen the bedroom. At that point you can get a pretty good idea of where you are staying and if it’s been worth parting with your hard earned cash.

For us staying in a hotel is a bit more complicated than it used to be. We need to make sure that the room is accessible and that my gluten free diet can be catered for when it comes to meals. The thing is that some hotels claim to have accessible rooms but when it comes down to it it’s not a wetroom and that’s what I really need. So you see we look at hotels a bit differently now. We need to make sure that our stay will be safe as well as fun!

We were lucky enough to be asked to review the Menzies Hotel in Irvine recently. So last weekend we trundled down the coast to check out this hotel. I must admit my first priority (correctly or otherwise) was to get connected to the hotel wifi so I could watch the Man U vs Arsenal game on Sky Go. I hoped the hotel’s wifi would stand up to the test and so it was this that filled my mind as we drove down the motorway rather than what our room might be like.

We arrived safely and found a Blue Badge Holders’ parking spot close to the main door. We immediately noticed though that there was no lowered kerb by the parking bay, not ideal. In fact there is a small, fashioned ramp nearer the door of the hotel but that does mean you have to go along the road in the car park to get to it. It’s not far but it’s not ideal either.

Anyway we arrived at reception to a very friendly welcome. We were given our room key as well as the chance to book for dinner. I was delighted to see that the free wifi code was attached to our documentation – Sky Go here we come!

Our room was situated a fair distance down the hallway. This was great for us as I had my wheelchair but if I’d been trying to walk in, I’d never have made it. Perhaps this is something that hotels need to consider, that an accessible room should be accessible by all. Anyway, I digress. Our room was big and roomy and very clean. There was plenty space for me to use my wheelchair and the en-suite bathroom was a brilliant size too.

Bedroom

The bedroom was very comfortable although we couldn’t figure out how to get the heating on…nothing we tried resolved this. We could have phoned and asked for help but there was a wee stand alone heater in the room so we just plugged that in, logged on to the wifi and watched the football. The internet connection was good, only buffering a few times, and best of all it was free AND we didn’t have to ask for it!

The bathroom was a wet room and looked well kitted out, with plenty of space, a movable seat and handrails available to assist in the shower.

bathroom

It wasn’t until I actually tried the shower that I noticed the problem. The rail which holds the chair to the wall was loose. In fact it was coming away from the wall. I’m not the biggest person in the world and yet I really didn’t feel secure. In fact I was terrified I would fall. It was such a shame as this room could have been ideal for me. I sent hubby to have a look and he said he “wouldn’t sit on that chair”. Disappointing to be honest.

Despite the issue in the bathroom this was a really great room. I particularly liked the inclusion of a fan and a heater for our use. Yes, I would have liked to be able to figure out the heating itself, but at least we had some control over the room temperature.

What about the dinner then? How was the gluten free diet catered for? Well, they were quite simply brilliant! I was given my own gluten free version of the daily menu, as well as a gluten free version of the A La Carte. That, in itself, is brilliant as you know exactly where you stand and you don’t have to have numerous conversations with the waiting staff running to and from the kitchen to check up on ingredients. What made it particularly good was the fact that the gluten free menu was very much like the “normal” menu. It was designed so that each dish was whole, not “well you can have the chicken without the sauce”, and well rounded.

The next great step was gluten free bread. Hubby was given hot, fresh rolls and to be honest I didn’t really expect anything, I am quite used to not having bread. However the waitress brought out two hot, gluten free rolls for me! BRILLIANT! It was such a nice touch and really appreciated.

There was so much choice for me that it took me a while to decide but in the end I had…

Flaked Smoked Salmon & Blush Tomato Tian

Grilled Rump Steak with Salad

Toffee Sponge

It was absolutely gorgeous! Couldn’t fault any of it. The waiter did admit that the toffee sponge wasn’t home made but really, who cares, it was a gluten free dessert! It wasn’t the only one either, there was a choice!

As for hubby, well he can eat whatever he likes and so he went for..

Salad of Crispy Pork Belly & Black Pudding

Chicken Breast, wrapped in Pancetta, with Dijon Mustard Sauce

Pear & Almond Sundae with Chocolate Ice Cream

It’s fair to say he loved his meal too! We had great plans of taking photos of every course but, erm, we kind of forgot! So here’s a selection of the photos we DID manage to take.

dinner

Dinner was followed by coffee in the lounge. Hubby had a Gaelic Coffee with homemade shortbread, and I had a cafetiere with GLUTEN FREE Millionaire’s Shortbread! I was stunned; they’d thought of everything! I didn’t miss out on any part of the meal and it was brilliant; it felt really special. We chilled in the lounge with our coffee and nibbles and watched the Barcelona game on the TV…yeah they had Sky Sports! For us it was the perfect end to the perfect meal.

I was very impressed with the attention to detail when it came to my meal. It has made me realise how lacking other places are when it comes to dealing with special dietary requirements. So, stuffed with food, we went to bed and, aside from a short fire alarm at 11pm, we had a perfectly peaceful night.

I actually wasn’t convinced I even needed breakfast but it would have been rude not to! There was quite a spread with porridge (with optional whisky) , cereals, fruits, cooked breakfast items and, finally, pastries. As a buffet style breakfast I wasn’t sure what was suitable for me but a very helpful waitress came over to help. She even went away and got fresh bacon with fresh tongs and did me a fresh egg so as to reduce any risk of contamination. Again, I was really impressed! Not many people think to bring you fresh food, let alone fresh tongs to serve them with! Brilliant. What’s more some freshly toasted slices of gluten free bread appeared. I felt completely spoiled, it was fantastic!

We really enjoyed our stay in Irvine and would go back. In fairness to the hotel we didn’t mention the issue with the wet room seat. It wasn’t intentional, we had meant to but totally forgot as we checked out. The service we received was fantastic and the food was great. I’d go back for the gluten free menu alone! One small thing I’d have liked to see more of is local produce. They serve Isle of Arran ice cream, but perhaps some Isle of Arran ales would also be a nice touch? Or local biscuits in the bedrooms instead of “generic” coffee biscuits? Like I say, it’s a small thing but it would add to the individuality of the hotel.

Thank you to Menzies Hotels who asked us to review this hotel and gave us complimentary dinner, bed and breakfast. We have been completely honest in our review of the hotel. Any opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Heavenly Gluten Free Cakes

February 28, 2011 in Food and Drink, Gluten Free

Earlier this month Mum reviewed some gluten free cookies, today she’s trying some gluten free cakes from Heavenly Cakes.

“Just like mum used to make” is the catchphrase used by Heavenly Cakes – and how true! I was delighted to try out these very tasty cakes in such a variety of flavours and they certainly made me think back to cakes my Mum used to make as well as to cakes I used to make and eat until I had to start following a gluten-free diet. For a long time I just made do without cakes or biscuits but now that people such as Heavenly Cakes are making such a wide range of gluten-free goodies, there’s no need to do without any more.

Tiffin

I started by trying out Tiffin – a traditional favourite and this one was definitely like Mum used to make; it was great to get my teeth into something so familiar and particularly into biscuit!! This was a great start to my tasting session!

Millionaires Shortbread

Then there was the Millionaires Shortbread! I was never very good at making this myself but my Mum certainly had it perfected. This one was tasty too – the shortbread was perhaps a bit soft, almost more like a sponge, but tasty nevertheless.

Marathon Flapjack

I didn’t know what to expect from Marathon Flapjack – wow! This was the best yet! Full of (gluten-free) oats, it was chewy and full of flavour. I was trying to just taste a slice or two of each cake but it was very tempting to devour all of this one.

Chilli Brownie

Then on to Chilli Brownie. I know that chilli and chocolate go together and the first taste of this too was very appealing – I just love the chance to eat a chocolate brownie nowadays. However I got a bit of a shock shortly after – this has a bit too hot an aftertaste for my tastes – I don’t think I could eat the whole thing without my mouth burning but if you’re happy to eat ‘hot’ food then you’ll enjoy this one.

Lemon Meringue with White Chocolate

Last, but certainly not least, Lemon Meringue with White Chocolate – what a lovely fresh lemon flavour, yet I still got my chocolate hit from the chunks of white chocolate scattered over this cake! I’m glad I kept this one till last – very refreshing and a most unusual cake based on the traditional Lemon Meringue Pie but with chocolate added.

So I’d certainly recommend these to anyone following a gluten-free diet – one will keep you going for a while as they’re quite a substantial size – but scrumptious!”

A selection of gluten-free Heavenly Cakes were received for consideration. No other reward, financial or otherwise was received in return for this post. All opinions expressed are entirely our own.