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Summer holidays…

Over the past few days, as a family, we have taken things a bit easy. Lets face it, you can’t run on autopilot forever, and we go through more than our fair share of stresses and strains on a daily basis. Besides which, this was the first proper couple of days off in I can’t remember when.

With Chloe on summer holidays, F1 on summer shut down, and me on a week off from the NHS, we decided to go and stay with my father-in-law for a few days, and explore some of the sites close by.

On one of the days, we had the most wonderful time visiting Cheddar Gorge! A real family day out, with so much to do, you almost need more than a day to take it all in. The children were in awe over the caves, the mystical jewels, the hundreds of steps that you can climb to the cliff walk, which they ran up as fast as their little legs would take them, and delighted in the wonderful sights at the very top. Chloe was very proud to beat us all to the top!

Callum got very excited with the open top bus tour that runs through the gorge, and thoroughly enjoyed visiting the cheese factory to see how it was made (even if he couldn’t taste any of it!).

We thoroughly recommend it, definitely well worth a visit!

We also visited a very windy Weston-Super-Mare, and in spite of the cool conditions of the sea, Chloe and Callum were insistent on going for a paddle. Fair play to them, it was damn chilly, but they had a wonderful time splashing about!

Windy Weston-Super-Mare

To give me a bit of a break from cooking, my lovely father-in-law took us out for lunch on one of the days we were there.

For anyone who follows this blog, you will know that we have had some very different experiences when visiting Harvester.

As we had had such a good experience with Harvester in Kidlington, we decided to give the one in Gloucester a try…..

I initially didn’t say anything at all about Callum, as I know the menu quite well now, and I’m fully up to speed with their training and know what they are capable of.

My father-in-law was the one who set the ball rolling, warning our waitress (Tocana) as to the fact that Callum is ‘allergic to the world and his wife’, and even mentioned about having had a good response in Kidlington.

Tocana was immediately on alert, and I have to say, she did a wonderful job! Callum had asked for the children’s fish dish, but when checked with the chef, it became apparent that it contained milk and egg, so unsuitable for Callum. We decided on the usual grilled chicken that we order when at Harvester, and Tocana promised to make sure that the grill would be washed down so there would be absolutely no cross-contamination.

While waiting for our food, Chloe needed the toilet, so off we went, leaving Callum with Jonny and my father-in-law. During the time we were away from the table, the food arrived. Callum asked Jonny if he could have some of his corn-on-the-cob. Jonny initially was about to, but Tocana questioned whether it was safe because of the ingredients on Jonny’s plate. She was right, it wasn’t safe!

Fair play Tocana, that seriously impressed me!!

Overall, we had a really great experience, well done Harvester, you are totally delivering on what you set out to achieve. And I will now happily recommend you to the allergy community as a safe place to eat!

I’m slightly suspicious though, knowing we were going to Harvester, I checked my blog stats before leaving, and then when we got back, and there was significant activity on my previous blog posts on Harvester……! ;)

Maybe Callum should become the face of an allergy safe menu for Harvester….! Give me a call head office, you have my number, I’d be more than happy to talk about it!

Callum - harvester

4

Skinnies UK – Part 1…

Skinnies UKFollowing my post about potty training and the perils of trying to control an eczema ravaged little body, the wonderful peeps at Skinnies UK read my plight, and god love them, sent me some of their fab products to trial!

The fabulous package sent to us included:

  • Silk top
  • Silk leggings
  • Silk gloves
  • Silk socks
  • Laundry liquid detergent
  • Catalogue of their range of products

Pulling the products out of their packaging, you can not only see but also feel how much kinder they are to skin, whether the skin is sore and affected by eczema or psoriasis or not. They are quite literally silky smooth, and thin enough to seem as if you have nothing extra underneath your normal clothes.

First impressions are most definitely very positive!

I have been waiting for a time when Callum really needed some help with his skin, particularly in trying to stop him scratching, so that I could give the products a ‘true’ review. Simply trialling them wouldn’t have given me a real picture of how helpful they can be.

Having been out of a body suit for a couple of weeks now, his skin is far from brilliant, as he now has easy access to scratch it constantly. There are quite a few patches of angry, red skin which we are attempting to control with a number of different steroid creams.

So, it seems the perfect time for ‘Operation Skinnies’ to be deployed this weekend!

I will report back our findings next week, and also confirm how Callum feels about them.

Initial reaction from Callum…. ‘mine new things are lovely Mummy’, ‘mine want them now’

…. good sign so far!

(NB: I have not been paid for this post, Skinnies UK sent me the product to help with our situation, and in return I promised to write a review on how we got on)

 

 

 

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Consultant time again…

It’s hard to imagine life without it being the way it is now.

The changes we’ve made, and the sacrifices we choose to have as a family, to make things easier for Callum.

With allergies, you find out what the problem is (eventually, and after a long battle!) figure out a way to some how live with them, or at least try to, and start to get a balance to your life again.

Every day life becomes a new routine with a way of overcoming the big obstacles you face all the time with allergies, and also asthma and eczema in Callum’s case.

During this time, there are days punctured with appointments. Times which you dread a bit, because you know you have to re-live the horror of what you go through constantly, to see if there’s any improvement, however small.

Sometimes you have appointments that you’d really rather not have to go through, and these usually involve repeat allergy testing – and there is nothing else you can feel other than dread!

You will be knowingly taking your little one, to a hospital (which more often than not they hate), to see someone who is going to cause them extreme pain and discomfort.

We’re in the process of this at the moment.

Yesterday, Callum had the first of 2 appointments regarding his allergies, eczema and asthma. He sees the same consultant now for all 3, which really does help with continuity of care.

It’s not always been like this, so when this does happen, the poor guy gets a bombardment of questions from me!!

After the long battle of the past few months (pneumonia, broken thumb, recurrent chest infection, nasty asthma attack, bad eczema, awful reactions to foods) we finally got some good news at the appointment.

Callum’s asthma is confirmed as being ‘as under control as it can be’, which is wonderful news! His skin also seems to be doing ok, he still has bad flare up patches but the majority of his skin is showing an improvement. Yay!

(I’m under no illusion, the amount of steroids he requires to keep him well, has meant his body has had to admit defeat!)

BUT!

Following the food trial of strawberries, there is no question that he still has a major issue with them, and likewise with tree nuts.

So, the next stage….

Come early September, Callum will undergo a repeat round of allergy tests to see if things have got better/ worse with everything else.

In addition, he will need to have a number of blood tests done, which will include testing his tolerance to soya, of which there is a concern that he is allergic again, despite trialling him very slowly on a ‘soya ladder’ for the past year with little improvement. He will also have blood tests for wheat/ gluten/ coeliac as he is showing signs of stomach/ bowel issues.

In order for all these tests to work and actually show up any ‘true’ results, we will need to take Callum off his medication a week before. The very medication that keeps him comfortable 24/7 from the eczema and allergies.

It’ll most likely mean no sleep for the week in the lead up to the appointment, and let’s be honest, I won’t sleep anyway as I always worry at these appointments because of what they put him through!

The poor boy, it just doesn’t seem to ever end for him!!!

And throughout all of this, he still remains happy, upbeat and giggly – a true little star, and a brave little soldier!!

(I love that as I’m typing this, Jon is in the garden tickling Callum, and he’s giggling so hard! It’s the most magical sound in the world, hearing your little ones giggle like that! It should be bottled up and used for medicine, if only it were possible!)

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‘Popcorn’tastic…

popcorn

It can be quite hard to find yummy, and safe snacks when dealing with anyone who has to avoid dairy, nuts, citrus……!!

Biscuits become boring, cake – same old, fruit – yawn, crisps – unhealthy if eaten all the time…. you can just imagine the responses you get when offering possible options….! (Ok, all you mums and dads can stop laughing now!)

So, what’s a mum to do!

It’s the summer holidays, the kids have been on the go all day, you’ve been at work all day and have no energy or inclination to do or make anything….

Popcorn!!

Yep, those innocent little kernels can be turned into something truly scrummy, that is also safe, and relatively healthy if you avoid using copious amounts of sugar.

You will need:

  • 120g popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (if desired)

Method:

Add the popcorn kernels and oil to a large saucepan. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and put the lid on.

When the oil starts to fizz, add the sugar (and ground cinnamon if using). Put the lid back on and shake well, whilst holding the lid in place.

The popcorn kernels will soon start to pop. Continue to shake well, whilst holding the lid, so that the popcorn is well coated with the sugar.

Continue to cook until the popping slows, then remove from the heat and leave for around 30-40 seconds with the lid on to allow for the last of the kernels to pop.

Remove the lid, add the pinch of salt, replace the lid, and shake well.

Serve and enjoy!