The Anonymous Widower

How To Cook Gluten-Free Fish

As a coeliac, I get fed up with restaurants, who can’t cook fish in a simple gluten-free way.

On my trip to Sufbury, which I wrote about in Marks Tey Station And The Sudbury Branch, I needed to eat something.

I did find my usual stand-by of a Pizza Express, but felt that I might be better to wait until I got back to London and buy a gluten-free wrap or sandwich in Liverpool Street station.

I then came across the Codfather, which had a sign saying they did gluten-free fish and chips on Sunday.

The waitress said they could do me a plain grilled fish with new potatoes and vegetables, which I had.

It was excellent and I can heartily recommend the Codfather in Sudbury.

I can’t understand, why more restaurants, don’t use this simple method to satisfy, those like me, who need gluten-free food.

On BBC Breakfast this morning, there is a story about problems in our seaside resorts.

How many of them have a restaurant that sells gluten-free fish lunches and inners  to the standard of the Codfather or Kubicki in Gdansk?

A quick search has found decent places in Brighton, Hastings and Blackpool, but others places don’t seem so well served.

 

 

 

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On My Vitamin D Deficiency

I’m now convinced that the cause of my bad springs and substantial absences from school as a child, and periods of bad health since, is due to a periodic vitamin D deficiency.

I suffer from several of the same symptoms as my father, who was most likely the parent from whom I inherited coeliac disease.

As a child, I didn’t go out in the son much, as I think I found it a bit painful and I burned. My father was the same in those days and was very much a man for his garage or shed. He only ventured out to smoke his pipe.

The problems dropped, when I went to Liverpool University and met my future wife. But then she would drag me out into the sun for a walk, with great regularity.

When I was diagnosed as a coeliac, I thought this would be the end of it all. And it did get a bit better, with the bonus that I could now sunbathe without burning. I also stopped being bitten by mossies.

Since the death of my wife, my stroke and moving to London, the bad springs and a lot of the other symptoms have returned.

But no-one could say the weather in London and it seems much of North and Central Europe has been very sunny over the last few years.

I even took a holiday in Croatia for some sun, but in My Home Run From Dubrobnik, I saw probably a day and a half of sun at most!

I’m now on vitamin D3 tablets and they appear to help.

But I think, what I need is a good scientific book on vitamin D, how it is absorbed by the body and what it actually does.

So much of what I get told seems to only have vague science behind it!

If I could find a top class University, where they were doing serious research into vitamin D, I’d go halfway round the world to talk to them.

 

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments

Vitamin D Deficiency And Atrial Fibrillation

I’ve just found a paper in the International Journal of Cardiology with this title.

As according to two cardiologists in Cambridge, the reason I had my stroke was atrial fibrillation, I should discuss this with a cardiologist.

I think my story goes something like this.

  • For some reason, I didn’t like the sun and kept out of it.
  • When I was diagnosed as a coeliac, I went gluten-free and didn’t get added Vitamin D in my food.
  • But C dragged me off to the sunnier climes, where now I can stay in the sun without problem.
  • When she died, I retreated into myself and didn’t go to the sun.
  • So did I get low vitamin D?
  • My GP thought so and I decided to drive around in my Lotus with the top down.
  • I eventually, had the stroke, I’d probably been just missing since C died.
  • Atrial fibrillation was diagnosed and it was said to have caused the stroke.
  • Warfarin has been prescribed to protect me!

I’ve added sun and vitamin D for good measure.

Until I can prove otherwise, my father who gave me coeliac disease, wasn’t so lucky and died of a stroke.

Did he have atrial fibrillation and low vitamin D?

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

My Endoscopy

This is an old post from an earlier blog, which is dated October the third, 2003, but I’ve been asked about it a couple of times lately, so I thought I’d copy it over.

Introduction

I have written this in quite a lot of detail so that it can help others who are undergoing the procedure.

The only thing I might say, is that I am a reasonably fit, fifty-six year old, who has a strong scientific training. So on the one hand, my body should be able take most things and on the other I do have a basic understanding of what’s going on!

Before

I wasn’t that sure to expect when I went for a endoscopy.

I am also not the bravest where hospitals or operations are concerned!

I had the instructions, which said that there was a 1-in-10,000 chance of something going wrong, that I was to wear comfortable easily washed clothes and that I wasn’t to eat or drink anything for six hours before.

It also said that there was the choice of a sedative or a throat spray and if I had the first I wouldn’t be able to drive, use machinery or drink alcohol for 24 hours.

Hmm!

Would I be brave enough to have the throat spray, as it would also mean I wouldn’t have to find someone to go with me? Not easy when your wife works full time and your children live miles away!

It said phone if you wanted any help. So I did!

I was given a direct line by the receptionist and after a couple of tries, I got through to a helpful nurse who said that most people are alright with the throat spray.

So it was to be the throat spray!

I also remembered the advice given to me by a scientist who created some of the world’s best anaesthetics. He said to avoid them at all costs!

I didn’t sleep too badly the night before, but I did get up about six.

Nothing unusual here, as Celia is often out by half past on her way to all Courts east, west, north and occassionally south. I also find that the early morning is the best time to work!

But I did want to have a last drink of a cup of tea before the requisite six hours of abstinance arrived at half past six.

It was a long wait, as I am one of those who just like others have a thinking cigarette, when I work I have a thinking drink, or a snack. I did bite my fingers a bit, until I realised that could count as food!

In the end I gave up on work about twelve and disappeared off on a series of useful, but on the whole rather time-wasting errands.

I had tried to arrange a game of tennis before, but that all came to nothing. I was dressed for the game though, as the clothes fitted the requirements.

I drove all the way to Bury St. Edmunds to collect my spare car keys from last night and then wasted a good fifteen minutes talking to the salesman about the new higher powered MG-ZT-T-230. (I would have bought one a few years ago, but now cars are just a means of getting around. Well not quite, but they aren’t so important!)

I then picked up the enlargements of the family photo taken at Imogen’s christening. I think I paid a cheque into the bank!

All things that needed to be done, but they could have waited until the Saturday!

Finally, about two I parked the car in the lane that leads to Addenbrookes.

When I visit the hospital I tend to do that, as on a sunny day (It was!) it is a nice walk and you avoid all the hassle of finding a car parking space.

Procedure

If you don’t know Addenbrokes it is not the most attractive of buildings, being a 60’s, brutal construction designed by an architect, who probably designed down to a cost, rather than up to a standard.

It’s also rather a maze, so when I entered the Out-Patients I looked around for someone to give me directions. As when I came for my first appointment, I was given proper directions to Endoscopy, which seemed to be rather an afterthought for the building, reached up what looked to be a fire-escape!

As I had forgotten to bring some suitable reading, I bought a magazine. I think it was Autocar.

Often when I go to the doctors, I’ll take a rather academic book, so that I don’t get treated like an idiot. Also something with substance and length as that seems to ensure I get seen quickly!

I waited for perhaps half an hour until twenty minutes after my appointment before I was seen by a nurse, who then asked whether I was taking the sedative. I said not, but I got the impression that most of the others were taking one.

She also said that as I have a crown on a front tooth, I was less likely to break that if I had a spray, as I wouldn’t bite so hard on the mouth piece through which the probe would pass.

Then at about a quarter past three, I was called in by the doctor.

The doctor, a Mr. Hardwick, again asked about the sedative and then outlined the procedure.

I did question him, as to why the consent form asked so many silly questions! I really don’t care at all about what happens to my body after I die, so long as it gets the respect it deserves. If it deserves any that is!

A few minutes later and he walked me through to the room where it was to be carried out.

Now I realised that except for the facts that a camera was being passed down my throat, through the stomach and into the duodenum, before a biopsy was to be taken, I didn’t know much else.

Would I be standing, sitting or lying? How big was the camera tube? After all I did know that sword swallowers appeared to take something substantial!

It’s funny, but whether because I was apprehensive or whether I didn’t want to interfere with the procedure, I didn’t take a look at the equipment out of my normal rather excessive curiosity. All I can remember is that it was made by Olympus. I hoped it gave better pictures than the last camera I bought of that make!

I was told that the throat spray was rather unpleasant and tasted of bananas. Why should bananas be unpleasant? I’ve always eaten at least one a day since I first saw one at the age of about five! (There weren’t any in London for several years after the war!)

The spray was fine and after a couple of sprays, I could feel my throat going numbish. But I still had full control and could swallow as required.

I was then asked to lie on the trolley and then I was turned onto my side.

Other instructions were given to try and swallow the probe and also to breathe normally. He also said that it was easier as I had not had the sedation and could co-operate with him. That sounded very reasonable!

I now had the mouth piece between my teeth and the doctor started to pass the probe down into my stomach. The probe was perhaps three to four millimetres in diameter. In other words considerably smaller than the occassional mint imperial, that I have swallowed by accident.

At this point, I should say that I am predominately a mouth breather and even with the mouth piece in, I was still breathing almost normally through my mouth, rather than the nose. Although I was trying to use it! I don’t think I was very successful!

As the tube progressed, I was asked to swallow and after a few attempts was able to progress it down my throat. I didn’t swallow more than about six to eight times.

I had also been worried because dentists have told me I have a strong gag reaction. It didn’t seem to be a problem!

Obviously, I was quiet and couldn’t talk. However, I did have a rather macabre thought as to whether they used the same probe if they were looking from the other end! I never asked the question!

It wasn’t that unpleasant and was no worse that having teeth drilled! It was a lot quieter and I only dribbled a very small amount.

It was also certainly better than the day in a dentist’s surgery in Smithdown Road in Liverpool, when I had the first crown fitted on my front tooth. I can still remember the smell of burning teeth!

I had been warned to expect wind as the probe entered my stomach, but really didn’t notice much and after perhaps two to three minutes the probe was in the duodenum. I hadn’t felt anything inside as the probe progressed. Was this due to the spray? I suspect it was.

So the first part was over and it wasn’t too bad at all! I hadn’t broken out in a sweat or anything like that, but it did find a bruise later on my knee, where the other one had been pushing into it, whilst I was trying to lie still!

They then took two biopsies by passing a tool down the probe. I thought I might have felt a slight prick as each was taken, but it may be that I was looking for something!

And that really was that!

A couple of minutes later, the probe had been removed and I was sitting on the trolley.

I was told that everything appeared normal and that they had got a couple of good biopsies. What constitutes a good one?

I was then told not to drink or eat anything before twenty to four and after a few minutes sitting on a chair, I walked out of the department, out of the hospital and back to my car.

My throat seemed slightly sore, but after a drink and some crisps as I filled up with petrol at the garage, everything seemed fine!

I ate a hearty meal that evening.

Conclusions

I think the first thing I should say, is that everything at Addenbrookes was very professional and I would have no complaint as to care.

Or any complaint about anything else for that matter!

Take the case of phoning before the procedure for advice about the throat spray!

This should always be available and I certainly found it very helpful as looking back, I think I made the right decision to have the spray rather than the sedative :-

1. The very fact that I was awake and fully conscious during the procedure must be a help to the staff, as they could tell me to do things and at least I could try to carry them out!

2. This must make the procedure quicker and more efficient, especially as there is no need for a recovery bed.

3. The nurse also told me that as I have full control of my jaw, which I wouldn’t have with the sedative, that there is less chance of dental damage.

Now having crowns fitted is definitely not pleasant!

4. But the biggest advantage to me of the throat spray, is that I walked out a few minutes later, drove home and within half an hour I was almost back to normal.

There is only one thing I would do to improve the system and that is to give more information to the patient.

If I had known more before I went to the hospital and had perhaps read an experience like this, I would have been less apprehensive.

It probably didn’t make any difference to me in the end, but someone of a more nervous disposition than myself, might just decide to be sedated rather than choose the spray.

So looking back about a week later as I write this, it doesn’t seem terrifying at all and I would recommend anybody who is asked to have a endoscopy, to have one without worrying too much!

And have the throat spray rather than the sedative!

Just relax and let the doctors and nurses get on with the job!

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

Serial Cooking – Asparagus, Prosciutto And Poached Egg

This is another recipe from Lyndsey Bareham from The Times.

It was exceedig simple and so delicious I did it two days running.

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Food | , | 2 Comments

The Curse On My Family

Something has dripped through the genes and behaviour in my family, that could well explain, factors that contributed to the early death of my paternal grandfather and my youngest son; George.

I have known six of my relatives well; my father and mother, my father’s mother and my three sons.

I will ignore my mother and grandmother, as both lived to their eighties, which is probably good by any standards.

I shall also ignore my eldest son, as I am not in contact with him.

I believe that my coeliac disease, which must be inherited, came from my father and both my late wife and myself believed that if any of our three children were coeliac, it would have been George. But neither my father or George were ever properly tested.

As a child, I was sickly and I was always being taken to the doctor and I had endless tonics and potions.

It only gradually improved when I got to about ten or so and why it did has never been successfully explained. But I can remember being off-school for large parts of the Spring term several times.

I can remember a couple of times in summers, when I was about eight or so, suddenly giving up playing with friends and going home to watch television or play with my Meccano. I think I just found it too hot or perhaps my eyes didn’t like the sun.

In some ways, I was just following my father’s behaviour, which generally involved tinkering with his car in the garage or working in his print works. He would occasionally sit in the sun to smoke his pipe, but I never ever saw him strip off on a beach say.

From about seven, he always took me to work at the weekend and I enjoyed myself doing real jobs, like setting type, collating paper and pulling proofs.

If it left me with any psychological traits, it was that hard work is good for you!

But it kept me out of the sun.

I got married to C at twenty-one and within four years we had three sons. In some ways this got me out in the sun more and perhaps in my late twenties, when we were living in the Barbican, I started to experience better health. I was probably getting more sun, as in those days, I tended to cycle across to Great Portland Street regularly. But C used to drag me out in the sun.

Over the next thirty years or so, my health often tended to deteriorate in the winter, but I think it is true to say, it improved marginally, when the boys grew up, as we started to take more holidays in the sun.

Then in 1997, when I was fifty, I had a particularly bad winter and a very elderly locum decided I needed a blood test to see if I lacked anything. It was the first time my blood had been tested and I was found to be totally lacking in vitamin B12.

I struggled on, with nurses injecting me with B12 every month or so, until my GP sent me to Addenbrooke’s. After another set of blood tests, they said, I was probably coeliac and this was confirmed by endoscopy.

I certainly felt a lot better on a gluten-free diet.

I was also now able to walk and work in the sun and sunbathe without getting burnt. Although, avoiding the sun was still burned into my behaviour, so I often retreated under an umbrella.

Another change was that whereas before going gluten-free I was always bitten and C never was, after going gluten-free, the reverse was true.

I only remember one bad winter from that period and that was when C had breast cancer in 2003-2004, which I think was a sunless winter. We didn’t have our long winter holiday in the sun and I paid the consequence with plantar faciitis, which some reports claim is linked to vitamin D deficiency.

After she died, my problems to a certain extent returned and my GP actually suggested I wasn’t getting enough sun. So in all weathers, I drove around in my Lotus Elan with the top down, to make sure that I got the sun.

I felt a lot better.

If I look at George, he also had my father’s and my behaviour of avoiding the sun. As he smoked heavily, whilst he wrote his music in the dark, was it any wonder he got the pancreatic cancer that killed him?

The curse on my family is of course coeliac disease, which before diagnosis, seems to make us avoid the sun. My father and George certainly did and I would have done before diagnosis without C’s constant persuasion. Now though as I showed in An Excursion To Lokrum, I have no problems in the sun and rarely use any sun screen.

We’ve had some miserably weather over the last few months in London and I come to the conclusion, that I just haven’t got enough vitamin D.

I’ve also only recently found out, that gluten-free foods are not fortified, as regular ones are. So I don’t get any vitamin D through my food.

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Food, Health | | 3 Comments

Gluten Free Food In Croatia

Croatia is not as easy as Poland, as that country and some others in Eastern Europe, who were under Soviet domination, developed skills to cook without flour, as it was expensive.

Croatian cooking seems to use a lot of flour and breadcrumbs, but then Serbia was and probably still is a massive produce of wheat.

But I found no problems in either Split or Dubrovnik, armed as I was with a gluten free restaurant card in Croatian. These are some pictures of the food I ate.

I even found some gluten-free beer from Aberdeen in a vegetarian restaurant called Nishta.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , | 2 Comments

A Tram Map In Munich

When it comes to local transport and walking maps, it’s a case of the bigger the better.

A Large Munich Tram Map

A Large Munich Tram Map

This was in the tram information centre in Munich Hauptbahnhof.

Every main station should have a local transport information centre and the largest map possible.

At the station, I also took this picture.

Tram Sign In Munich

Tram Sign In Munich

I was going for supper and I needed to get a tram 16 to St. Emmeram, which would drop me in the area of one of the best gluten-free pizzadromes in Europe; Pizzesco.

So what could go wrong?

There was a demonstration in the area and the trams stopped running, leaving me in a part of MunichI didn’t know!

Although, Pizzesco was very crowded and I had to wait, I eventually got my delicious pizza and a bottle of gluten-free beer.

Coming back to my hotel, I eventually found a tram outside the Deutsche Museum.

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Onward To Ljubljana

This was an uneventful journey in a comfortable train, but the weather seemed even worse, so there was no serious photo opportunities.

At Ljubljana, I changed a few notes into Euros and got a taxi in the rain.

It might have been a memorable journey through beautiful countryside, but with the rain and the dark, I couldn’t tell!

By Ljubljana, I was hungry and as my comfortable hotel had no choice of food I fancied, I walked a few hundred metres in the rain to the city centre and bought some chips and an orange juice from McDonalds.

I don’t think that the journey from Split to Ljubljana had been successful, but then it isn’t supposed to rain in the Balkans, when I’m on holiday!

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disappointing Bristol

On Thursday last week, I went to Bristol with the aim of perhaps doing a bit of a wander around some of the local railways in the area.

I know the centre of Bristol quite well and I’ve visited the usual attractions and walked along the Avon. After a previous visit, I wrote Walking Around Bristol. I’ve have also visited the SS Great Britain a couple of times, but it is not an attraction, that you can walk past and enjoy, like say HMS Belfast or the Cutty Sark in London. After a previous visit, I wrote The Disappointing SS Great Britain.

I had thought, that I might go to Severn Beach, as I’d read that the trip is one of the most scenic of railways.

But trains were only every two hours and I’d just missed one. How visitor-friendly is that? Anybody going on the off-chance would love to be stuck at Bristol Temple Meads station for two hours.

Services like those to Severn Beach should be at least twice an hour and preferably four times to attract passengers to the route.

I couldn’t even buy any gluten-free food, as the only place to buy anything was WH Smith. The nearest Marks was in the Centre. As there are no shops at Paddington at the moment due to rebuilding, I was starting to get hungry.

It’s also quite a boring and long walk between Bristol Temple Meads station and the City Centre. So I wondered if there was a local bus that could be used to get to Cabot Circus, where I might have some lunch. But there was no information, that I could find.

So, I did what my family always does at times like this. I did a runner! In this case to Bath!

Bristol may be getting new electric trains all the way to London, but they need to think seriously about providing a more welcoming experience for visitors.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend to anybody going to Bristol by train for a day out! Portsmouth, Liverpool, Cardiff and even Birmingham are so much better.

If Bristol was in Europe or had a bit more ambition, which I’ve always felt the city lacks, it would have a tram system.

This Google Map shows the City Centre.

Bristol City Centre

Bristol City Centre

Bristol Temple Meads station is in the middle at the bottom. Only one other station is shown on the map and that is Lawrence Hill station in the North-Eastern corner of the map.  Wikipedia describes the station as having minimal facilities. This extract from Wikipedia, describes the services at the station.

As of the December 2013 timetable, Monday to Friday, three trains every two hours run along the Severn Beach Line from Bristol Temple Meads to Avonmouth via Clifton Down, with one extended to St Andrew’s Road and Severn Beach. Most services start at Bristol, but one evening service to Avonmouth begins at Weston-super-Mare. On Saturdays only two trains per hour each direction call. Sunday sees an hourly service to and from Bristol, with only two services extending to Severn Beach, except during the May–September timetable period when all services are extended. The first and last Sunday trains towards Bristol are extended to Taunton via Weston-super-Mare, and there are similar workings in the other direction.

No wonder, the station only has minimal facilities, that level of service will struggle to attract the proverbial one man and his dog.

If as I believe there should be at least a two trains per hour service on local lines, then if the Severn Beach Line and the service to Avonmouth had this frequency, then there would be four trains per hour service across the eastern side of the city centre.

Bristol is trying to organise MetroWest, but compared to say Cardiff, Liverpool and other large cities, it has a distinct lack of rail lines and stations in or near the City Centre.

Talk is of a start in 2019, but I doubt, anything will start until the late 2020s, at the earliest.

In 2014 I wrote Is Bristol Left Behind? After my visit on Thursday, I can’t help feeling that the City is the most disappointing one in England.

May 2, 2016 Posted by | Food, Travel, Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments