Review – Newburn Gluten free White Sourdough Artisan Cob

I have been a coeliac for a long time, over 20 years now, and I have seen loads of changes on the food option front which is super, but I never write about it and I’m not entirely sure why because I love reading other peoples reviews and finding out about new products so I though I’d better start.

Now, you have to understand that over the years the offerings of gluten free bread mainly consisted of bread that was as heavy as a house brick or so crumbly that merely picking up a slice can cause disintegration. Also the bread would have to be heated or toasted in order to be edible, and it usually tasted horrid. Trust me, this is not an exaggeration but hings have moved on substantially with loads of main steam companies jumping on the gluten free band wagon which is always a good thing for us coeliacs. So I am sure you can imagine that there was much excitement in the gluten free world when Warburtons announced the launch of their own gluten free range, Newburn,  not least because it was the first proper – i.e. gluten filled -bakery that was tuning its hand to gluten free. The thing that  I miss the most about being gluten free is a fresh crusty white load and here is where Warburtons have cornered a bit of supermarket market. Their brand of Sourdough Cob sells out so quickly at my local Sainsburys that it has become a bit of a treat for me, and I always buy two if they are there. It is very thing I want in my fresh bread, crusty and floury on the outside, beautifully soft on the inside and if I choose to toast it there is the most delicious crunch and it tastes amazing.

IMG_5494IMG_5496IMG_5510

Now before you all start shrieking at the screen that I have fallen prey to hipsterism, yes that is avocado on my toast, just as I have been eating my toast for the last 25 years. See, I’m very old and avocados have been around much longer than Instagram. Newburn also do gluten free Crumpets which I haven’t tried yet and yesterday I got hold of a Orange and Sultana Breakfast Cob, at Waitress, it looks like the Sourdough but sis weet. It was also delicious, not too sweet, just right. I must be honest and say that I ate it straight out of the packet at my desk, no need to toast this delicious offering.

As a side note, I was in  Marks and Spencers recently and saw that they had brought out a gluten free Sourdough loaf, it was so beautiful to look at but it tasted absolutely dreadful, the inside was dry and crumbly, I didn’t even finish one slice before I put the whole lot into the food waste bin. What a shame as M&S are doing so well in the gluten free stakes, they make the best cheesecake and the trifle is delicious. Such a treat.

 

It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all. (Or – What would you choose – excruciating pain or chronic exhaustion?)

Hmm, difficult on so many levels and the fact that it isn’t actually a ‘real’ choice, after all who would choose either? But, for me I would take the pain over the exhaustion since I have luxury of having both. The exhaustion is completely debilitating for me. It is “bone-crushingly, walking through treacle, dragging water up a hill, can’t remember my own name” awful. Don’t get me wrong the pain ain’t great either. It hurts when I move, it hurts when I’m still, the touch of my T shirt on my skin hurts, everything hurts, inside and out and I occasionally lose my vision because of it. “Well, get some painkillers” I hear you cry but really none of them work for me and all I’m left with now is morphine but I am already dopey enough with the tiredness thank you, and I have to be able to drive to get to work. Those pesky bills simply won’t pay them selves!

I am in the middle of what I believe is known as a ‘fibro flare’, an exacerbation of my symptoms that happens for no apparent reason what so ever but then again no one has any idea why people develop fibromyalgia in the first place.

img_4804

So, if I accept that things hurt and that is just life, how do I deal with the tiredness? It really does not matter how long I sleep for, I will still be tired, there is no ‘catching up’. I already take an array of vitamin and mineral supplements, including turmeric for the joint inflammation, magnesium for my insomnia and now I have added ginseng for energy. I eat well but the fly in the ointment is when I am tired, the time you should really eat all the best things, it is the time that I can barely wash my own hair let alone contemplate making anything to eat. My appetite wavers a bit and I then crave bad sugar and carbs blah blah blah.

I’ve made reference to the Spoon analogy before and at the moment it is so true. I have a limited amount of energy, spoons, each day. So I have to make choices, during my flares particularly, most days. If I walk up the stairs at work will I be able to have a shower when I get home? as walking up stairs uses one spoon as does having a shower. So I mitigate my circumstances as much as possible and no, exercising and pushing on through does not help, it makes it worse. I know that I felt particularly bad on Monday as on Friday I had a half day at work and I went shopping for two hours to buy my mum a birthday gift and have a nice wander by myself. I slept until 5pm the next day. Now, one can ‘borrow’ spoons to use from the following day but then the next day you have to manage with less spoons. More crappy choices. I think what I really need is a PA and a house keeper to look after me.You know, stroke my hair, tell me I’m pretty,  and that I shouldn’t worry as everything will work out just fine.

Over the last few months I have grown to be genuinely grateful for my mum and having her around me now rarely makes me grumpy (I am clearly much sicker than first imagined!!!), but wow the guilt I feel around my 6 year old daughter is over whelming. ‘Mummy, why don’t you ever want to play with my barbie dream house?’ err because mummy is using all her energy to stay upright at the moment! – only joking, I’d never tell her the truth but she is verging on thinking that I really don’t want to play with her so I have now taken to saying ‘you know how mummy sometimes gets a bit tired? well, I’m a bit tired now so we can do either do activity a) or activity b) but not both, which would you like? but if even giving options is exhausting, alternatively we can watch a film on the good old ipad instead which she loves and I can nap. But it is very obvious to me that I am not the same person I used to be. Having less energy also means one has less enthusiasm for things which is hard because I am usually one of those annoying smiley happy excited people, ‘Spring is coming hurrah’, I adore Christmas and start decorating in October. I am tenacious and passionate and interested in so many things, the world is an amazing place, but I feel a bit like a tortoise, crawling slowly through the day, no time for distraction, just concentrating on finding the energy to put one foot in front of the other.

img_4928

When I was in hospital recently I met a lady in her 70s, we were both waiting to collect our meds. She was an academic that had lectured in economics, still bright as a button and absolutely fascinating. She told me that she lived alone and relied on her friends to help her as she had had an accident a while back and had been house bound while she was on the long road to recovery. The thing she discovered was that in order to allow your body to heal physically you had to somehow turn off your brain, stop using all your energy thinking so much, no pondering life great questions in bed alone at two in the morning. She said of course it rendered her unable to have very interesting conversations with people but that it was a necessary part of recovery that simply had to be accepted. Just allow yourself to rest and to heal. She is right, she sparked something in me, it was almost a permission to allow myself to concentrate on healing my body without feeling like failure. I saw with great clarity that while my body was poorly I had been busy trying to prove that my brain still worked and I could have interesting  informed conversations and still had lots of jolly clever ideas to share. “See, see, I am more than my failing body”…..I see how desperate I may have seemed. Maybe instead of worrying that other people would judge my abilities now that I was poorly, I should stop judging myself. I’m still me, just a hazier version of me and one that needs to lie down more often than I used to but, as my Irish mammy would say “sure, it could be worse.”

Once upon a time there lived a princess

img_5480Tomorrow I am off to Farrow and Ball to seek their invaluable advice about what colour to paint my bedroom and my study. “Oh come on”, I hear you say, “you need advice choosing colours? don’t you just KNOW?” well, no I don’t. I simply can’t choose which is why to a certain extent I only use Farrow and Ball. They have a limited selection which is good for me because too much choice is dazzling but also the quality and finish is second to none and I redecorate maybe once every 10 years so I need to love it and at the price point I literally cannot afford to make a mistake.

I know what I don’t like – isn’t that always the way in life? -but am having difficulty making a final choice.

Lulu’s room is easy – pink. It is already a light pink, Calamine, the same as mine and now she is having Nancy’s Blushes, a true gorgeous brighter pink. She wants a Barbie Boutique bedroom, so out comes the wardrobe, and in goes open copper piping to hang her pretty princess dresses. Also shelves by her bed for her Sylvanian family to live on, more shelves for her pretty shoes to live on and a display cabinet for her crowns etc. I am not entirely sure how this is all going to work but I have two days to do it. I have been promising her that we would re do her room for a few months now, I was the one who suggested it – idiot. But as I remain quite unwell it hasn’t been feasible, also money has been super tight but thanks to my financial whizz of a private banker – no idea why I get this service from my bank – error i think, but I’m not knocking it, I have paid off overdrafts (yes, two) and got a smidgen more to decorate at a lower interest rate that the silly over drafts!!! So now is the time. Also, a while a go a friend of mine was fretting about how best to serve his children in his newly divorced state, phone every day, which they didn’t seem too fussed about, or every few days? From my experience as a child of divorced parent’s I advised that the children won’t remember of what you did do but they will remember what you didn’t, so, parents – please if you can, do what you say you will or it is very disappointing, so here I am about to don an old t shirt and start slapping on the paint.

img_5474

The reason decorating my room is so important to me is that I spend a lot of time in bed, and this means that sometimes Lu spends a lot of time in my bed with, watching TV, chatting, eating toast – who cares about crumbs – and I want it to be a really nice place for her to be, I don’t want her to remember mummy bing sick and having to spend time in my room because of that I want her to remember how gorgeous my room was and want to be in it with me. She plays dress up in all my clothes – my expensive cocktail dresses are her favourite, she plays with my make up and I have made sure I have a beautiful dressing table and stool so it is a really nice experience. She favours Mac’s Ruby Woo at present, my six year old has the best taste ever. She has stated dabbling with my Bobbi Brown blusher and is not adverse to donning a pashmina and a statement necklace to finish off the look. I don’t mind at all, she love it and seeing her happy is a joy to me. I’m not an idiot though, the Gina shoes and Mulberry Handbags remain nestled in their protective bags way beyond the hand reaching height of a fashion conscious little girl. But if her feet don’t grow beyond a size 3 she has lots of gorgeous shoes coming her way when she grows up.

If it is of any interest I am torn between painting my room pink, Nancys Blushes, as I bloody love pink, it makes me happy, or so I go for  grey which I also love and means I can accessorise my ass off with pink but also Peignoir appeals. For the study, which is Elephant’s Breathe, I am thinking a darker grey, maybe Pavilion Grey. My friend Kathryn has thrown a spanner in the works by suggesting Pigeon, a gorgeous blue grey. Arrgghhhh.

We are living in a material world. And I am a material girl

My spending ban remains firmly in place but my desire to have nice things has not abated. I continue to satisfy myself by gazing at pretty things online and thinking ‘one day….’

I am loving the crockery at H&M at the moment:

    

I really need/want new bed linen and this gorgeous set from La Redoute was top of my list BUT they don’t do the right size for my Super King Duvet cover…..

Image Plain Cotton Duvet Cover In a Range of Mix and Match Colours SCENARIO

I have my eye on this Happiness Planner:

How gorgeous are these pink boots from Office? I bought the black leather version last year – a dupe for Chloe Suzanna’s, and I love them:

Lucky Charm Studded Boots

*Basically anything pink or flamingo themed gets added to my wish list.

My week in pictures

Monday

img_5190

First of two hospital visits, with a little bit of work afterwards.

Tuesday

img_5193

My phone is full of photos of books I want to read, I loved The Miniaturist.

Wednesday

img_5201

An innocent meeting with my PhD supervisor ended with me giving up my PhD as illness and time are not working in my favour. Still hurts.

Thursday

img_5208

No heating at work and for some reason I am not sweating like a pig.

Friday

img_5230

Post Friday Film night cuddles in mummy’s bed.

Saturday

img_5243

My mum and I survived Lulu’s 6th Birthday party.

Sunday

img_5253

Fairy lights behind my bed? What more could a girl ask for???

 

But I can’t help falling in love with you

I love food, I mean everything about it. The history, the preparing, the reading, the eating. It is my passion, and often my reason for being, and it has been for as long as I can remember. I was making choux pastry at 10 years of age, churning my own butter at 11, at 13 I was making hand made filled chocolates, by 14 I had a subscription to US Gourmet magazine, at 16 I decided that I wanted to own my own catering company and live a life revolving around food for the rest of my life. And then life got in the way. A bit of family trauma, a bit of displacement, a violent boyfriend at uni and the diagnosis of coeliacs disease at a time when gluten free bread occasionally still came in tins!

img_5277

Picked up those lovely Goodhousekeeping ones on the left at church fete, complete bargain!

A catering company when I couldn’t taste anything seemed crazy so that idea faded away with sadness and instead I ended up working in the nightclub/bar/restaurant industry. It was hard work, fun, crazy, tiring and a complete buzz. My (ex) husband was extremely successful in his field of nightclubs – I think there is a still a plaque dedicated to him somewhere in the bowels of Fabric! – and we spent our spare time, and money, not clubbing but going to amazing restaurants and bars in the Uk and abroad. Foliage at the Mandarin Oriental remains the best food I have ever eaten, Chris Staines we love you!

img_5283

The ones I requested as Christmas gifts.

I started hosting dinner parties again. 14 people around a table that took up our whole living room in a our tiny basement flat in Notting Hill was not an uncommon event. 8 courses with a wine flight? I’m your gal. all prepared in a kitchen the size of a small wardrobe – the fridge lived in the hallway. Oh how I loved it. I have collected cookery books as long as  can remember, I never part with any of them, I read the recipes for pleasure, they relax me, always have. I was the odd 12 year old at the library borrowing cookery books and then taking them home to type out the recipes as I couldn’t afford to photo copy them and the internet didn’t exist then.

img_5281

Mixers and blenders and whisks, oh my

How could I let this passion slip away from me? I have no idea, it lights me up, makes me feel enthusiastic, it’s my measure of life. if I tire of cookery book I know I have tired of life and am feeling a bit depressed. It is my constant gauge of happiness, its amazing. And yet I never really ever write about it, why? I have no bloody idea so I shall start writing about here, in my tiny space in the internet, and I shall love very single minute of it.

img_5279

Fascinating facts about food. I have re read this three times, never gets boring.

Tired of looking at myself, wishing I was someone else

The true cost of chronic invisible illness. And I’m not talking about the strain on the NHS or the economy due to lost days at work.

I’m talking about the personal cost. I read a piece recently about a woman who had had her  Disability Claim denied because her assessing Dr decided that, after viewing her pictures on social media “the person depicted in most of these posts appears to be a young woman who is engaged in life activities, awake, smiling and alert. They do not appear to depict an individual who looks chronically ill”. He saw literally a snapshot of her life, he didn’t see the other 23 hrs and 55 mins of her day, the effort required to look happy, force yourself out of the house, to endure the ever constant pain and exhaustion is impossible to impart. Every day is a struggle, every single day.

img_0479

Ahhh when I went blind for a few months

My relationships have suffered, with my friends as, after a day at work, all I am capable of doing is getting myself home, getting my child to bed before I am literally on the floor with pain and exhaustion. So no more socialising for me unless it is in very short time frames, I have had to cancel plans so often that I just don’t make them any more. With my partner, a lot of the time, merely having my hand held hurts, I think you can see where I am going with this. He is a loving and patient man but why should he sacrifice his needs because I am ill?.

I was off work sick for a substantial amount of time and while my employer was very understanding I do realise that being a team member down impacts on the business and my colleagues, the anxiety of staying at home is real, it isn’t an opportunity to put your feet up and relax. I was due to start my Phd in January of 2016 but had to defer due to my newly diagnosed illness and I commenced in September instead. Today I saw my Supervisor and after discussions had to acknowledge that I am going to have defer this semester too and start again in the September of this year as I cannot keep up with the work required. I cried about this and I am not really a crier.

img_1384

Lots of lovely meds

I am not the mother I was or want to be. It was Lulu’s birthday last Friday and I promised her a trip to McDonalds after I got home from work and hospital (I’m in the middle of a 8 week treatment course). By the time I got home I was so exhausted and in so much pain  that I was shaking and couldn’t think straight so I lied to her and told her that McDonalds had flooded – this has actually happened before when it rains- and that we would go the next day but Saturday came and I couldn’t use the last of my energy driving there as we had to drive to a friend’s house for Lulu’s dinner, I am constantly having to make choices based on my energy and pain levels which is acceptable but of course as a parent, and friend and partner, these choices impact on others.

img_5165

Can never find a vein

I had a brain procedure sone on New Years Bank holiday Monday but my veins are so bad they couldn’t get the cannula in, after a number of goes they managed it but by the afternoon the bruise was enormous and black, I couldn’t keep it disgusted so Lu saw it and was clearly concerned, it looked awful. Why should my child have to see these things? She is 6 years of age, she shouldn’t think her mum is sick. Last ear I had Erythema Nodosum all over my arms and legs, big painful red swellings, I couldn’t have Lu on my lap or hold onto my arm because it hurt so much. How frightening for her that must have been? Not being able to cuddle mummy when ever you want because you will hurt her?

As a side issue my vanity has suffered greatly. Months of being bed ridden and increasing doses of steroids have left me overweight, bloated – hello moon face !- and spotty, thanks for the steroid endured adult acne. Lulu announced the other day that my tummy was so big it looked like I had a baby in it but that she knew I didn’t and that I was just very big – I’ve had to coach her endlessly on not using the word ‘fat’ as it is hurtful to people. She also added that her dad’s girlfriend had a very small tummy because she wasn’t big – thanks Lu, I just has t0 smile through gritted teeth and agree.

img_5116

Back in bed

I can no longer walk very far, before slowing to a snails pace as it is very painful but I walk as much as I can, you know cause its healthy and all that. I spoke with my GP about applying for a disabled badge for parking so I could park closer to the station so the walk would be sorter and the amount of pain I would have to endure would be lessened but apparently I don’t fall within the criteria, the ability to walk more than 50 metres means no badge. I can walk more than 50 meters, in agony, and pain that is so exacerbated that it remains with me most of the day. I am one of those people that fall into a grey area. The fact that I go to wok every day appears to mean that there is nothing wrong with me, that I need no other support or assistance. I go to work, because I have to, not because I necesarily feel well enough to do so, I have responsibilities, a child, a mortgage and it’s just me and my daughter.  So essentially unless I am entirely bed ridden I am not eligible for any assistance. The fact that a day at work (see feature photo of me on train home) means that the other 12 hours of the day are  written off is irrelevant. Cleaning my house is a painful exhausting  and very time consuming event, so I am caught in a Catch 22. At the moment I feel like I am merely existing, functioning, getting though one minute, one hour, one day at a time. Doing the practical and necessary things as far as I can and then there is nothing left for ‘me’. My Phd was for me and now that has had to be shelved.

This post isn’t about self pity, I don’t feel sorry for myself, I feel upset and frustrated and tired and old and frightened. I never thought that at 42 I would feel this way. Never.

img_5154

Getting dressed & putting on make up took all my energy that day

So the long and the short of it is just because I look ok, just because I go to work everyday, just because I smile does not mean in any way that I am actually ok. Invisible illness is real, it affects 1000s of people, trust me when I say that I do not feel good. I am trying my best, my absolute best, I cannot explain how hard I am trying.