The Anonymous Widower

A Plaintiff Plea On Wake Up To Money

I regularly listen to Wake Up to Money on BBC Radio 5 Live.

One morning, they were talking to Kentucky Fried Chicken about their new vegan burgers. As a coeliac, I say Yuck! to that!

Somebody else texted the program and said something like.

I’m a coeliac, how about more gluten-free food.

In fact it was a bad week for me as a coeliac last week.

  • I found Beyond Bread had closed on Upper Street.
  • Le Petite Bretagne  closed in Dalston.
  • I spent about twenty minutes looking for a coffee and a gluten-free cake in Liverpool Street.

All this passion for vegan and vegetarian food, is marginalising those like me, who have to avoid gluten.

I’ve still got a couple of cafes in Dalston, where this is possible and I could always go to M & S and take a cake home.

But I refuse to buy an expensive coffee maker.

After Liverpool Street, I ended up in Leon in Moorgate.

Note the excellent gluten-free cake and the posh cup and saucer.

Note, that because of my stroke, I like a proper china cup or mug

I tend to avoid American-owned chains like Costa and Starbucks, as some American gluten-free practices are suspect to say the least. I used to like Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate, but now I believe it uses addictive wheat-derived glucose, I wouldn’t dare touch it.

As I said finding good cafes and restaurants that do gluten free well is becoming more difficult.

  • Carluccio’s is creaking and many that I used regularly like Glasgow, Islington, Liverpool and Westfield have closed.
  • Pattiserie Valerie is struggling and has closed a lot of outlets.
  • Jamie’s Italian has gone bust.
  • If I go a bit upmarket, there is Bill’s and Cote, but they are not ideal for a fast pit-stop.

As last week, I suspect that most coeliacs hope that Leon or others following their relaxed, quirky and customer and diet-friendly model, prosper.

Freedoming

These days many pensioners like me, get free public transport in their local area.

Londoners like me, get a Freedom Pass, which gives free buses, Underground, Overground, trams and trains, within the M25.

I will often get up, look at the BBC London News, the weather and other sources. I may then decide to go to Canary Wharf, Richmond ir wherever  to have a walk, see an exhibition or whatever.

London is an amazing cornucopia of delights, which is a sentiment echoed by others who live close to our other great cities.

Free public transport enables this lifestyle.

I think the various cafe and restaurant chains can tap into this lifestyle, as often one of the reason to go to a place is to have a good meal or a drinki.

If like me, you like particular chains, I believe that their web sites could be an important part in planning how to waste a few hours.

Suppose, their web site  had the following features.

  • A simple list of all their cafes and restaurant, with st most a short description like “Close to Pierhead”
  • The ability to sign up to a simple e-mail alert of new openings and closures. Note the word simple!

I believe that if I got a message saying a chain had opened in say Kingston, it might prompt me to go and have a walk and perhaps lunch, with a friend I haven’t seen for years.

Note.

  1. Lists are much better than maps, if you don’t know the area.
  2. Companies are relying too much on apps, which are OK for finding places near where you are, but are useless, if you are using the cafe or restaurant, as the resewn to go or the starting point for an explore.
  3. I believe Carluccio’s troubles started, when they abandoned their list on their web site. I told them so in strong terms.

Patteriserie Valerie has an excellent list.

 

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Unusual Body

I say unusual, but I suspect there are others out there with similar problems to me.

I was delivered in 1947, by the almost exotically-named; Dr. Egerton White, who was the family GP. He had all the expected characteristics of a three-piece suit, a corporation, a long watch chain and the obligatory Rover car. He also had a rather unusual blotchy skin, that leads me to think he was probably of mixed race.

I was small in stature, not the healthiest of children and was always going to see him and his partner, a Doctor Curley!

  • At times, I would cough my guts out for hours on end.
  • Later I remember my mother saying to my future wife, that I had difficulty eating as a baby, and I would fall asleep as she fed me.
  • Often I would spend three or four months away from school and I can remember spending hours with my head over a large jug of hot Friar’s Balsam.
  • At one point, someone said it could be the lead in the paint in our house, so my father burnt it all off and replaced it.
  • My mother used to make gallons of home-made lemonade according to one of Mrs. Beeton’s recipes, which must have helped, when I drunk it.
  • Doctors White and Curley were puzzled and at one point the new-fangled drug penicillin.
  • It should be remembered that in the 1950s, even in leafy Southgate, where we lived, the air was thick with the pollution from coal fires for a lot of the year.

In the end, one thing that helped was a nasal spray cooked-up by a pharmacist called Halliday. I can still smell it and suspect it was little more than the base chemical still used in some nasal sprays available from pharmacies.

Although my poor health persisted at times, I still managed to pass the 11-Plus and get to Minchenden Grammar School.

But I remember in the first year, I had virtually a term away.

From about ten or eleven, my health gradually improved.

I can suggest these reasons.

  • Getting older helped in some way.
  • I was exercising a lot more by cycling around, although it was up a hill to get home.
  • My parents had bought a house in Felixstowe and we would spend weekends there. Although, as I got older I hated being away from my friends with little to do, so I tended to stay in and read.

In the 1960s, my health seemed to improve dramatically, when I spent three years at Liverpool University and a year afterwards working for ICI at Runcorn.

Liverpool is a Maritime City and in those days, the air was much better than London.

But I also got married in 1968 and I can never remember serious noughts of coughing, sneezing and breathing difficulties in the time Celia was alive.

Although, she did often say that before I went to sleep, I would always sneeze three times and sometimes she would even count them.

She also regularly said, that my sneezes were rather violent at times. They still are!

In the late nineties, I was diagnosed as a coeliac. Regularly, I’d go to the GP around the turn of the year with a general run-down feeling.

Nothing specific, but then an elderly locum decided I ought to have a blood test, which would be the first of my life!

The result was that I was very low in vitamin B12. As a series of injections didn’t improve the situation, I was sent to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for tests.

I was diagnosed as a coeliac, initially on a blood test and then by two endoscopies. Note that Addenbrooke’s used to do them without anaesthetic, as it means the patient can easily get into a better position and doesn’t break teeth. It also means that the hospital doesn’t have to provide as many beds for recovery. Certainly, I’ve had worse experiences with highly-capable dentists!

I thought this was the end of my health problems.

It certainly seemed to be, except for occasional breathing difficulties early in the year. I can remember having difficulty climbing Table Mountain.

My stroke was brought on by atrial fibrillation three years after Celia died.

It happened in Hong Kong and before it happened in the restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I had had a walk and remember how well the air felt early in the morning in the City.

The doctors said I had had a serious stroke and I was kept in hospital for twelve weeks on the 29th floor of a hospital with the sun streaming through the windows.

I remember one incident, where I was accused of throwing my water away and not drinking enough, as I wasn’t urinating. But I was drinking, so they checked my waterworks thoroughly and put in a catheter. Nothing improved. Thankfully, eventually they gave up!

So where was all that water going?

Another curious thing in Hong Kong was that their automatic blood pressure machines sometimes didn’t work well on me in the morning. So they resorted to traditional devices and a stethoscope.

After the stroke, I was put on long-term Warfarin and I have been told several times, that I if I get the dose right, I won’t have another stroke.

Now moved to London, I possibly made the mistake of moving to a house, which gets too hot.

One day I collapsed, panicked as I thought it was another stroke.

It wasn’t and UCLH thought that I needed to be put on Ramipril, Bisoprolol Fumarate and Spirolactone.

Since then another cardiologist has dropped the Spirolactone.

As I said mt body is unusual in strange ways.

  • If I have an injection or give a blood sample, I don’t bleed afterwards or need a plaster. With a new nurse, it often causes a bit of a laugh!
  • My nose seems to be permanently blocked and I rarely am able to blow it properly.
  • My feet don’t have any hard skin, which is probably unusual for my age.
  • I used to suffer from plantar fasciitis, which seems to have been partly cured by the Body Shop’s hemp foot protector.
  • I drink a large amount of fluids, with probably six mugs of tea and a litre of lemonade or beer every day.
  • I always have a mug of decaffinated tea before I go to bed.
  • I often have half-an-hour’s sleep in the middle of the day. As did my father!
  • My eyes are very dry and I have a bath most mornings, where I put my head under the water and open my eyes.

Perhaps, the strangest incident was I went to sleep on the floor after a lot of tea, with the window open.

I woke up to find I couldn’t see! There was nothing wrong with me, but my large living room was full of steam, like you’d get if you leave the kettle on.

I came to the conclusion after that incident, that the only place the water could have come, was through my skin.

This was also suggested by a nurse, who said he’d got leaky skin.

As someone, who understands physics, could this leaky skin be the cause of my problems?

And do the drugs make it worse?

My Grandfather

He died at forty, long before I was born.

He was an alcoholic, who eventually died of pneumonia.

Could his drinking like mine, have started because of a need for fluids?

I used to drink a lot of beer until I was about twenty-four, but my father had suffered so badly emotionally because of the death of his father, that he had instilled the right attitude to drink deep in my mind.

Conclusion

This has been a bit of a ramble!

May 29, 2019 Posted by | Health, Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Leon Goes Posh!

I took this picture in the Leon Restaurant on Moorgate yesterday, where I often go for breakfast.

I’m not a lover of plastic cups and in that restaurant, I can have a big mug of tea with my gluten-free full English in a pot!

As you can see, those who don’t like plastic cups or mugs  sized for builders, can now have their beverage in a real cup and with a posh saucer.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Luton – An Unwelcoming Town For Coeliacs

On my visit to Luton station, I decided to take a walk to the town centre for some lunch.

I took these pictures.

Except for the town hall, I saw nothing of any architectural merit.

Gluten-Free Food In Luton Town Centre

If like me, you need gluten-free food, then I suggest you don’t go near Luton.

All I saw was two ageing sandwiches in the Marks and Spencer, which is closing on May the fourth.

If there’s a worse town in the UK, for gluten-free food, I haven’t found it.

Blackburn, Bardford, Crewe, Middlesbrough and Sunderland are all several times better.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Food | , | Leave a comment

Bean About Town

I liked this name when I saw it on a coffee stall outside Kentish Town station.

I also noted that the stall was selling the mandarin and chocolate chip gluten-free cake.

I’d have had some, but I had just had breakfast.

When I’m in the area I’ll check them out properly.

April 8, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , , | Leave a comment

My First Fast Food Burger In Twenty Years

As a coeliac, I do eat burgers, but only from the upmarket chains and proper restaurants, who say everything is gluten free.

I also trust McDonalds chips, which with an orange juice make a stomach filler.

Today I got an e-mail, which said that Leon now do gluten-free buns with their burgers.

The char-grilled chicken burger was very nice.

I certainly didn’t have any adverse reaction.

April 5, 2019 Posted by | Food | , | Leave a comment

Bremen

I took a detour from Bremen Hauptbahnhof, when I changed trains to walk to the centre.

If there’s a convenient hotel, it looks like it could be a place for a pit-stop or overnight stay.

By the way, the sausage appeared to be gluten-free, as I certainly had no reaction and German sausages usually are.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | Food, World | , | Leave a comment

Changing Trains At Scarborough – March 13th, 2019

I took these pictures, whilst changing from the York to Scarborough train to one going to Hull.

There used to be a cafe in the Stephen Joseph Theatre, but they pointed me to the Eat Me Cafe in the road behind.

I visited the cafe at the wrong time of day. Otherwise, I would have had lunch, as they had gluten-free options.

March 18, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Gluten-Free Spinach And Ricotta Ravioli From Marks And Spencer

Gluten-free ravioli is one of the foods that I have missed, since my diagnosis as a coeliac.

But, I was able to  buy this new product this afternoon, at a cost of £3.70 for enough for two.

The proof will be in the eating.

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Food | , | 2 Comments

My Ruined Saturday Mornings!

Since, I moved to Dalston in 2010, my Saturday morning routine has been something like this.

  • Take a 30 Bus to St. Mary’s Church.
  • Visit the Carluccio’s and have a gluten-free breakfast, like a full English or an eggs benedict.
  • Visit Waitrose for half my shopping.
  • Visit Marks and Spencer for my gluten-free shopping.

But things have changed.

Egyptian Buses On Route 30

A few weeks ago, new buses started on route 30.

I don’t use them, except as a last resort.

They were built in Egypt. Now, I’ve nothing against Egyptians or their country, but we make very good buses in this country and we should have British buses for British bottoms!

The new company running the route seems to not provide the same frequency anyway, so catching a 30 bus, would often involve a longer wait.

Carluccio’s Has Closed

But the need to take a 30 bus decreased, a few weeks ago, when Carluccio’s in Islington closed.

As there is no other place in Islington to get a quick gluten-free breakfast, that put a big hole in my Saturday mornings. I could go to Bill’s or Cote, but they take a lot longer and are much more expensive.

Waitrose

Waitrose too, are annoying me.

They have redone their self-service tills and they are useless for my way of shopping.

I have a large reusable M & S bag, that folds into my man-bag and although it was fine for their original tills, it’s too big for their new tills.

So to shop in Waitrose, I put the bag in the trolley, load my purchases onto the till without a bag and then after payment move them into my shopping bag. How inefficient is that?

I now limit my purchases at Waitrose by using the much-more customer friendly Sainsburys next door.

Anyway, Sainsburys have a much better gluten-free selection, than the terrible range in Waitrose, where no care is taken to make ranges of foods like sausages and burgers gluten-free.

In fact, I wouldn’t trust Waitrose on their allergen philosophy. The labelling might be correct, but it’s all about how different product types and ranges are handled.

You wouldn’t shop in Waitrose if you were a family with one member who was coeliac or gluten-free!

Marks And Spencer

Marks and Spencer at the Angel carry on as normal, as they have done since my paternal grandmother shopped there ibefore the First World War and, when C and I used to shop there in the 1970s.

But they have competition in that I am ringed by others of their stores in Dalston, Finsbury Pavement, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and London Bridge.

Yesterday, I ate breakfast in Leon at Kings Cross and then roamed the shops before doing my Saturday shopping in their Finsbury Pavement store. That one is now opening on Saturdays and I can get two buses directly from the store to the zebra crossing by my house.

Conclusion

All of these factors are combining to make me use Islington less.

What the Angel needs is a Leon, so I can have a fast gluten-free breakfast on the go.

One of the great things about breakfast in Leon, is that there is often time and space to layout your tabloid-sized newspaper and eat a leisurely breakfast.

 

November 18, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment