My 2017 Travel Wish List

Writing a travel wish list is turning into a regular occurrence for this blog, even if generally the posts to this blog are sporadic!

In 2015 I wrote this one. And in 2016, this one which was constantly edited through the year until I finally gave up as we added more trips. 2016 was a big year of travel for us as I detailed in this epic post (I needed a lie down after writing this…).

Just as 2016 turned into the year of travel which was unexpected at the start of the year, who knows where 2017 will take us. We have two weekend breaks booked so far for this year but after that…..I don’t know!

January – the bracing winter break
Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city has been on my travel wish list for a while and finally we’re making the trip later this month! I think the Swedish fika was made for me, just my kind of activity. If I can tear myself away from enjoying a coffee and (gluten free) cinnamon bun in a cosy cafe, I’m looking forward to exploring Gothenburg’s historic area, Haga. I’ll try and sneak in a visit to the Stora Saluhallen to check out what gluten free finds they have. There seem to be plenty of activities for the kids with Museum of Gothenburg – housing Sweden’s only exhibited Viking ship, along with an interactive children’s museum – and Martiman maritime museum as ideas on the list, time and weather permitting. (image credit)

February – the we-need-some-warmer-weather-and-sunshine winter break
Valencia, Spain. Another city on my travel wish list some time, I’m looking forward to checking out the futuristic building’s at the city’s Centre for Art and Sciences. The kids will also enjoy exploring the park which has been built on the riverbed of a diverted river and which winds its way through the centre of Valencia. My initial research indicates plenty of gluten free options such as CeliacRuz. I doubt I’ll go hungry! (image credit)

Have you been to Gothenburg or Valencia? Could you recommend any gluten free places to eat? Or any kid friendly activities? If so, please do leave a comment below.

The weekend break – the new destination
Pula, Croatia. A new destination on the British Airways route map is Pula in Croatia. I’m keen to visit this city with its well preserved Roman amphitheatre. I’m also intrigued by the ‘Lighting Giants’ where cranes within a working shipyard in this port city are illuminated at night. (image credit)

The weekend break – the early summer get away
Porto, Portugal. It’s been on the list for a while and hopefully this is the year we’ll visit. (image credit)

The Summer Holiday
Tricky one. For the last 2 years we’ve had great holidays driving down to the Dordogne and hiring a villa. But I’d like to go somewhere different this year. I find driving holidays really easy (but then I don’t actually drive!) as you can chuck everything in the car and there’s no need to worry about airports, hire cars and the quality of rental company children’s car seats at your destination. The kids have – so far – been great on long car journeys and when we’ve stopped en route it’s given us the opportunity to see other destinations as part of the trip. So, perhaps hiring a villa in Italy with stops in Switzerland or south eastern France could be a possibility.

On the other hand, road tripping around Vancouver and the Pacific North West are still high on my travel wish list.

But top of Mr D’s travel wish list is a trip to Greenland, transiting one way via Iceland and the other via Canada. (image credit)

The Autumn Half Term
Cape Town, South Africa. Mr D needs some persuading on this one but I’ve never been to South Africa and a trip to Cape Town would be do-able for a week as the small time difference means no jet lag to contend with. (image credit)

The weekend break – the it’s-nearly-winter warmer
Seville, Spain. Although I’ve been a few times before to Seville, it’s been a long time. I’d like to revisit for some November sunshine as London becomes a wet, dark and dismal place. Seville always seems to be warm even when the rest of Europe is shivering from the cold. (image credit)

The work trip
Paris again, this time for a week is on the cards. I will try to refrain from charging around Paris like a crazy person in search of the increasing number of gluten free finds the city has on offer. However, no trip to Paris would be complete without a stop at Helmut Newcake.

Where would you recommend I travel to with 3 year old twins in 2017? Any suggestions gratefully received!

2016: A Year Of Gluten Free Travel (with twins)

2016 was really the year of travel for us. It saw me take;

  • 18 flights
  • 2 Eurotunnel returns
  • 1 Eurostar return
  • 1 ferry trip
  • and visit 7 countries

Not since before I was pregnant with with our twins (now 3 and a half) have I taken so many trips. Although exploring with small kids and food allergies (me, not them) is something I feel lucky to be able to do, in all honesty there are times when I wonder why we don’t just stay at home and have an easier life. However, just as I didn’t stop travelling where I wanted to when I was diagnosed with food allergies / intolerances, having two small children hasn’t stopped me from travelling either!

With the impending start of full time school for the twingos in September (when my summer born babies will only just have turned 4 *weeps*) I wanted to document a year of travel that is unlikely to recur for quite some time.

New Year / early January – Stavanger, Norway
Mr D and I have a deal in which we go away somewhere every year for New Year. In addition, I absolutely love a random city break and Stavanger was the only destination available for a BA Air Miles redemption the day before we wanted to travel. Stavanger it was.

http://www.glutenfreemrsd.com/2016/03/kids-stavanger/

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this city. You can read some of the things we enjoyed doing in this post. Since then, there is not a week (often a day….) in which one of the twins doesn’t ask to go back to Norway. Which also led to the next trip…

Late January / early February – Bergen, Norway
Bergen has been on my travel wish list for quite some time. Although perhaps not an obvious choice for a city break in winter (it was cold, dark and snowy) nonetheless we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The kids had their first McDonald’s Happy Meal and I had a gluten free Big Mac.
gluten free big mac www.glutenfreemrsd.com

February – Isle of Wight, England
A weekend over on the Isle of Wight. I never get bored of taking the ferry over from Portsmouth; I always feel like I’m off on adventure.

www.glutenfreemrsd.com

On the gluten free front, there are increasing number of places catering to those with a gluten intolerance on the island. It’s great to be able to go for a pub lunch and find gluten free options. I thoroughly enjoyed this gluten free sticky toffee pudding with custard.

Late February – Innsbruck, Austria

An early flight meant that the kids were zonked by the time we arrived into Innsbruck. They slept in the buggy while I enjoyed a deliciously warming bowl of goulash and this epic slice of gluten free chocolate heaven.

gluten free cake innsbruck

The return flight showed me that adults cause every bit as much (in fact more) trouble on flights when a well known person sitting in front of me put on a full “don’t you know who I am?!” diva spectacle.

March – Calais, France
A day trip to France to restock the wine cellar and take the car out for the first time in over a month (we’re lucky where we live we don’t need the car very often). I got to check out the gluten free items in the French supermarket. Definitely making steps forward!

April – Tokyo, Japan
Two weeks in Japan to visit my sister who lives and works in Tokyo.

gluten free japan www.glutenfreemrsd.com

We stayed in an Airbnb (our first experience) close to Yoyogi station. The location was perfect for getting around and local amenities.

gluten free japan www.glutenfreemrsd.com

I loved sleeping on traditional tatami mats (there were beds!) but at times the layout of the Airbnb house didn’t really work for us.

In terms of gluten free eating, Japan posed an enormous challenge. There were options but it wasn’t easy, My gluten free trip report blog post is still languishing in ‘draft’…

Late April / May – Dorset, England
We stayed in a beautiful stone cottage with not just one, but two AGAs. Low beams and an inglenook fireplace, quality furnishings and a very well stocked kitchen – with wine fridge – made this the archetypal ‘down from London’ cottage. I finally got to visit Chesil Beach, found unexpectedly good gluten free options at Abbotsbury sub-tropical gardens and even enjoyed gluten free fish and chips in Weymouth.

gluten free fish and chips

May – Verona, Italy
While Verona itself is an attractive city, it’s also perfectly located for us to take day trips to Venice and spend the day at Lake Garda. On the gluten free front, I enjoyed several really great gluten free pizzas on this trip, including on the shores of beautiful Lake Garda and in a pizzeria directly opposite the Roman amphitheatre in Verona.

gluten free pizza italy http://www.glutenfreemrsd.com/2016/08/gluten-free-guide-to-italy-tips-and-resources/

Watching an opera here in the open air is definitely on my travel wish list for another trip.

June – Turin, Italy
Another trip to Italy and more gluten free pizza.

http://www.glutenfreemrsd.com/2016/08/gluten-free-guide-to-italy-tips-and-resources/

As ever I enjoyed checking out the huge variety of gluten free products in the local Italian supermarkets, including finding gluten free Peroni in the tiny supermarket next to our hotel. You can read my complete guide to gluten free travel to Italy here.

gluten free beer italy http://www.glutenfreemrsd.com/2016/08/gluten-free-guide-to-italy-tips-and-resources/

Late August / September – Dordogne, France
Our drive down the Dordogne in south west France was broken up with an overnight stop in Saumur, in the beautiful Loire Valley and in Fontainebleau outside Paris on the return.

In the Dordogne we rented a house which had everything I could hope for. Located in a small village but with a full size supermarket, the house was well equipped for travel with small children. The large swimming was fully fenced and completely secure. Also in the garden, the kids were thrilled to find a trampoline, slide, swings, Wendy house, ride on tractors, bikes scooters and on and on. In fact the house had more toys and equipment than we have at home.

Mr D was happy to find a high quality BBQ. Me? All of the above meant I had moments to relax for more than 5 minutes, a first for a holiday since the twins were born. On our last night, the village held their fête du canard to which all the town was invited. A band played, food & wine were on offer and it was a super atmosphere for us to be included in, a real highlight of 2016.

gluten free france

October – Paris, France
I spent a few days in Paris for work. I promised myself I wouldn’t race all over Paris in search of gluten free finds, as I have on previous trips. I did manage a dinner with old friends who live in Paris and a stop at Helmut Newcake to pick up a salted caramel eclair for the train home. Plus ça change…..

You can read my gluten free guide to France here. And many posts on gluten free Paris here.

November – Oxford, England
A wedding in Oxford for an old university friend gave Mr D and I the chance to have our first ever night away from the twins at the same time, while all 3 grandparents babysat back in London. We stayed in a Premier Inn as it was convenient for the wedding location. I’ve never stayed in a Premier Inn before but was impressed with the size of the room, comfy bed and breakfast in the onsite Beefeater was well signed for gluten free options.

gluten free Premier Inn

December – Barcelona, Spain
A brief stop in Barcelona. We enjoyed a walk around Las Ramblas, accidentally found ourselves walking along Barcelona’s equivalent of New York’s High Line, but somehow managed to miss the more obvious sights in Barcelona.

December – Brisbane, Sunshine Coast & Sydney, Australia
Our longest trip to date with the twins; to Australia for Christmas and New Year. Australia is a great place to be gluten free. But conversely I’ve had a couple of run ins in which I’ve been told something is gluten free, only later to find out it’s not.

But generally I found an excellent variety of savoury items labelled as gluten free in the supermarkets. It was interesting to see *much* less sugary gluten free items in Australia (cakes, biscuits etc) than in the UK. And in surprising news for readers in the UK, I only spotted one gluten free brownie on our trip! I will blog about my gluten free finds in Australia in a few weeks.

Phew, what a year of travel 2016 was! I hope this post has shown you that being a mum of young children and/or having food allergies / intolerances doesn’t need to hold you back from travelling.

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2016: A Year Of Gluten Free Travel With Twins

Trip Planning: Australia

This week we’re very lucky to be escaping gloomy London in all it’s pre-Christmas twinkly glory and heading to Australia.

Our time in Australia will be split between (Brisbane where we have family), Noosa and Sydney.

Although I’ve been to Australia many times before – I met Mr D in Sydney and we had our first date at the Sydney Opera House, later the location of Mr D proposing – it’s been a few years since my last visit.

Do you have any good gluten free restaurant or bakery recommendations in Australia and the cities we’re visiting? We’re mainly self catering so any recommendations for supermarkets with excellent gluten free ranges would be good.

And also, if you have any great kid friendly recommendations (apart from the zoos, aquariums) please do let me know in the comments below. Any tips on entertaining jet lagged 3 year old twins also highly appreciated…!

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Gluten Free London Restaurant: Pure

The trickiest issue I’ve found with being gluten free is finding a suitable breakfast. I have never been keen on eating breakfast at home before enduring the daily bun fight into work on the Tube so have always preferred breakfast al desko.

Once I was further diagnosed with a nut allergy it became even harder as most gluten free breakfast options also included nuts.

However, one of the best developments for me has been the increasing number of food outlets offering gluten free breakfast items which don’t contain nuts.

There’s a Pod next to my office which offers gluten free porridge (with your choice of toppings) as standard. However, I’ve recently fallen out of love with them because it takes them soooo long to prepare the porridge. On occasion, I’ve actually drunk my entire coffee while I’ve been waiting for my breakfast order in Pod (still love their lunches though!).

gluten free london breakfast options #pureishot

So, I was extremely happy to discover a new cafe style restaurant called Pure right by the exit of my Tube station. They have multiple locations throughout the City, West End and Canary Wharf.

All their standard porridge is gluten free. You can also choose your own porridge toppings.

gluten free London breakfast

Not keen on porridge? Pure also do egg pots which I haven’t tried yet but which seem very popular given how many other customers order them.

When the weather was warmer I bought a bircher pot made with gluten free oats and rhubarb. This is currently not on sale; their menu changes seasonally. They were also doing a blueberry version which was delicious.

Gluten free bircher London

The only downside for me (with an allergy to almonds) is that there are two porridges on offer at Pure; one with organic milk and the other with almond milk. And I have had a couple of minor freak outs when I’ve seen the almond milk porridge (which I have not requested) get rung through on the till. However, the good thing (and what sets them apart from Pod) is that Pure have both porridges pre measured out in the tubs (under heat) ready for customers. This means that not only is it quick (toppings are added later as requested) but I can also see whether the team are selecting either the organic or almond milk porridges.

It’s not just breakfasts which are on offer at Pure, they also have lots of gluten free lunch time options too. You can check out the menu here.

The coffee is also really good here. And a special thumbs up to the baristas who are super friendly.

gluten free london

If you spot a Pure around London, especially at breakfast time, I highly recommend you pay them a visit.

Cost: £5.50 Gluten free porridge (they only offer one size but it’s large) with golden syrup and blueberries with a latte

Location: Currently around 10 locations in the City, West End and Canary Wharf. Check here to find one near you.

Website: Pure – Made For You

Would I go back? I do, daily! But I do need to try out some of their lunch options.

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Gluten Free London: Pure Made for you

Gluten Free London Restaurant: Rosa’s Thai

It’s a freezing cold November day and it’s time for lunch. You’re suffering with a rotten cold. Luckily there are many options nearby which offer gluten free food, what do you choose? For me, there’s just one thing I need on a day like this….and that’s spicy food.

So when I was choosing a restaurant for work day lunch with a friend I remembered seeing an Instagram post that Rosa’s Thai offered a gluten free menu. I’ve heard lots of good things about Rosa’s but I’ve never been. A brisk 5 minute walk away from the office and we were tucked into Rosa’s warm cafe.

Having originally begun as a stall in east London’s Brick Lane in 2008, Rosa’s Thai has expanded into a chain with 8 locations in and around central London.

The gluten free menu contains plenty of options with Thai classics.

gluten free Thai food London

I have a nut allergy so this naturally means there are less choices for me in Thai food, although still plenty of choice. (I’m allergic to almonds, hazelnuts and chestnuts which are not nuts usually found in Thai food but I generally avoid all nuts).

gluten free calamari

I find it impossible to resist calamari if I find a gluten free version. What a treat! These were served with a sweet chilli dip. The gluten free batter was deliciously light.

On the menu was exactly what I needed; guay tiew tom yum. A spicy and sour soup with rice noodles along with prawns, tomatoes and mushroom.

gluten free thai food london

As our dishes approached the table the smell was just incredible. Spicy and fish sauce. Steaming hot.

I couldn’t have been more excited to tuck in. Absolutely delicious. And spicy. Totally hit the spot.

Warming, delicious and reasonably priced food. What more could you possibly want on a cold day?

Cost: £31.15 for two (incl service) including two mains, a starter and prawn crackers. Very reasonable indeed.
Location: 8 locations in central London
Website: Rosa’s Thai
Would I go back?: Rosa’s is now my new favourite lunch time restaurant and since this visit I returned with my colleagues. I couldn’t have enjoyed the food and service any more than I did. Go and try!

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gluten free restaurant London Rosa's Thai