Monday, 29 September 2014

Wedding, honeymoon and new house!

So... I'm back in the blogosphere! I'm not sure how often I'll be posting over the next few weeks as things are still slightly (very) hectic, but I just wanted to write a quick update on what's been happening over the last month or so. Because a LOT has been happening, as you'll already know if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

This is pretty much a post filled with photos... everyone loves photos, yes? I'll be writing more detailed posts on the various aspects of the last month over the next few weeks so that's something for you all to look forward to with bated breath.

Let's start with the biggest and most significant thing. I got married!












It was such a lovely day and all the stress leading up to it was totally worth it in the end. Everything went according to plan, all my suppliers did a fantastic job, it didn't rain, the church service was beautiful, the food was scrumptious, the speeches were tear-jerkingly wonderful and all the guests had a brilliant time. What more could you ask for on your wedding day? 

The day after we got married, it was time to embark on our first ever adventure as Mr and Mrs Davies. Honeymoooooon! 

We travelled to three amazing locations in Italy over the course of a fortnight. First stop... Rome!








Next stop... Malcesine, Lake Garda









And last stop... Venice! 








Separate posts will follow on all our honeymoon destinations, although there aren't enough superlatives in the world to do them justice. I loved the views, food, drinks, architecture, relaxation, people, walks, hotels, ice cream... I could go on for hours. 

Last but not least, we've also completed the move into our new house over the last few weeks. Why not just do everything at once? 






Our little house is coming along nicely, particularly the kitchen. We've got a few little DIY projects to sort out over the next few weeks, but nothing too major as the house was decorated so beautifully before we even moved in. 

So as you can tell, it's been a pretty busy few weeks with constant highs (and an abnormal amount of food). I can't wait to blog all about the separate aspects of my wedding day, honeymoon and new home as it'll bring back all the memories in full force. These blog posts will also be a lovely way of looking back at these momentous occasions and remembering all the little details which made them so special. 

Now I just need to decide which part I should blog about first... watch this space! 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Guest post #4 - Living with a food intolerance

My fourth guest blog post is written by Clare, my lovely colleague from work. 

I'm intolerant to all short-chain carbohydrates. This includes fructose, lactose, sugar polyols, fructans and galactos and I react to all of these in the same way lactose intolerant people react to milk or cream. It’s tricky; avoiding lactose is relatively easy but all of these other types of sugars are in just about everything... or so it can seem. You can find a very basic list of problem foods here.

I think I’ve been this way for around 15 years now. Of course it didn’t start out this bad but it got progressively worse and before long I didn’t even realise I was arranging my life around my symptoms.

You may have experienced digestive issues yourself if you’ve taken antibiotics? Well this can be permanent. Overuse of antibiotics: ruins your stomach, ruins your immune system and ruins life-saving drugs for those who actually need them. The over-prescribing of antibiotics is a national disgrace in this country - although I should say at this point the depletion of lactase (the enzyme which deals with lactose) is a completely normal, natural process and happens to lots of people. Here in the UK we have developed a much higher tolerance to lactose than other parts of the world because of our reliance upon dairy products.

How did I find out about this? I was desperate. My condition was impacting upon my ability to focus on my work, holidays and evenings out. I was in pain every single day and my GP couldn’t come up with anything, so every morning before I went to work I researched my condition and kept coming up with the same thing; short-chain carbohydrates, or indigestible proteins.

Avoiding these proteins has meant a lifestyle change but I am lucky because my partner is incredibly supportive and he was determined that I was going to get better. Now it's like second nature to both of us.

Understanding the link between my food and my health has changed my life. The hardest thing for me is other people's attitudes. Most people are great but here are some of the annoying things people say:


1. “But how ill are you?” How ill would you like me to be? If I tell you I might not be able to go to work tomorrow, perhaps that will be ill enough for you. (In case you’re wondering how ill I used to be every single day of my life, I came back from India at the beginning of the year with Campylobacter and assumed for weeks that I had developed a new type of intolerance because the symptoms were the same.)

2. “I don’t think there’s garlic/onion/cream/fruit in that, go on eat it, you’re probably fine.” Only people who “probably” won’t see me being ill the next day say this to me.

3. I’ve experienced people watching me like a hawk while I eat (which makes for a most uncomfortable dining experience): “If you can eat that, how come you can’t eat this?” Well you know those short-chain carbs I’ve told you about repeatedly? Because of those.

4. “All of this seems like a bit too much hassle really.” Well I’m fine with it because it’s a lot more hassle when I can’t go to work, or have to take a day out of a skiing holiday, or leave a spin class, or not go out for the night.

5. Unbelievably I had a waiter tell me that there was no garlic in hummus. Seriously. If you don’t know I’d rather you just say.


Understandably, the very annoying craze for feigning gluten intolerance can make people a bit wary of pandering to those who profess to have dietary requirements on medical grounds (see annoying thing 1). I met someone like this a few weeks ago and when she told me about her “symptoms” I found it difficult to take her seriously in any capacity. In essence, she described the symptoms of someone who eats too many carbs at lunchtime.

And from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have any issues with food, unlike Coeliac (gluten intolerance) or straightforward lactose intolerance, it must be very difficult to see what this broad range of foods might have in common. What could an avocado have in common with wheat and onion?!

On the bright side (every cloud...) this experience has definitely given me a much better understanding of the challenges people who are far worse off than me must face every single day of their lives.

I often get requests from well-meaning people for definitive lists of what I can and can’t have, even though I usually insist on bringing my own food everywhere, but sadly there isn’t one. However, Monash University in Australia do a sterling job of leading on this area of research, closely followed by Kings College. I am lucky that Monash have tried and tested lots of foods and put it all in a convenient app but anything they've not tested is trial and error.

Possibly one of the best sources of information is www.shepherdworks.com.au

Sue Shepherd is the last word in nutrition and the FODMAP diet, which was developed by Monash.

Twitter is a great place to link in with fellow suffers and I got some of my best advice for travelling this way.

How do more GPs not know about this? I'm not sure because it's very common to be intolerant to more than just lactose - yet the focus is only usually on lactose intolerance. If my experience seems familiar I would recommend finding out more. It’s unfortunate that I have a high level of intolerance to all of these sugars but never fear; you could well find that you have a relatively low intolerance to just one or two sugars which are easily avoidable. Or your intolerance might be so slight or infrequent that to “do nothing” will work out better for you.

Either way, rest assured that you can still have a very healthy, varied and tasty diet with a bit of imagination, perseverance and a little help from your online friends :)

Friday, 12 September 2014

Guest post #3 - Favourite things to do in London for less than £5

My third guest post is written by Liz who blogs over at Distract Me Now Please.

Beth loves a bargain... ask her about the 5p battered sausage (she'll be so happy that I told you about that). As a tribute to this extreme dedication to thriftiness, I'm going to share my five favourite things to do in London for less that a fiver.




The South Bank

The South Bank is one of my favourite places to hang out in London, especially when the weather's good. The South Bank Centre always has exhibitions on (some of which are free) and pop up art installations outside, where there's space to sit on the grass and watch the street performers. If you do want to splash the cash, the London Wonderground is open during the summer. There's bars, food stalls, circus shows, and rides. If you want a (slightly scary) view, the skyflier (pictured above) is a lot cheaper than the London Eye.

Walk along the river from the London Eye towards London Bridge, and after about half an hour you'll reach...





Borough Market

I'm going to let you into the world's worst kept secret; I love food. And Borough Market has a lot of food. The full market is open Wednesday-Saturday and it's epic. I reckon you can easily get lunch (or pick up some bread/cake/cheese for later) for £5. If you're ballsy/poor enough, you could probably just fill up on the free samples.





The Old Naval College, Greenwich

This is probably my favourite free thing to do in London. Make your way towards Cutty Sark/Maritime Greenwich and you can't miss it. It's a beautiful area to walk around, and there are free indoor attarctions too; the Painted Hall is particularly breathtaking, and you've also got the chapel, Maritime Museum and Queen's House gallery nearby.

Brucie Bonus: Greenwich Park is only a four minute walk away. Sit and chill, or walk up the hill to see the observatory and take pictures of the view.





London Marathon

OK, so it's not exactly a year round attraction, but it is definitely worth going to. You can run it if you really want to, but personally I'd recommend just watching (even running for a bus tires me out). The atmosphere is amazing, and if you get bored you can play count the rhinos. Last year I saw 14.





Green Chain

Last autumn we decided to try walking a section of the Green Chain. The Green Chain is a series of walks around South East London's green spaces. There are similar walks all over London, such as the Capital Ring and London Loop. The website has all the routes, and they're really well signposted along the way. You can also download free audio guides which tell you where to go, and tell you about the places you see along the way. I love facts and I love walking, so it's win-win for me. It's a great way to discover the greener bits of London, and perfect if you're fed up with fighting your way through the crowds.


There you have it. Five of the reasons why I love this city.

All images copyright Liz Stephens 2012-2014.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Guest post #2 - Home made scones

My second guest blog post is from Cheryl who blogs over at Peppermint and Pearls





Ingredients










350g self raising flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g butter, cut into cubes
3 tbsp caster sugar
175ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Squeeze of lemon juice
Beaten egg
Jam and clotted cream


Method

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees/180 degrees for fan ovens.

2. Put the flour into a large mixing bowl along with the salt and baking powder, mix together.




3. Add the cubes of butter and mix together with your hands until the mixture resembles crumbs.




4. Put the milk into a jug and microwave for 30 seconds, the milk should be warm but not hot.

5. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the vanilla.

6. Put a baking tray in the oven – the scones need to go onto a hot tray to bake.

7. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk.




8. Combine the dry and wet mixtures together with a knife.

9. Scatter flour onto your work surface and place the dough on top of it.

10. Pat the dough out – do not knead it. Once you have worked it out so it is smooth, pat it into a round that should be about 4cm deep.

11. Using cutters cut out the scones, re-work the dough until you have as many scones as possible.

12. Brush each scone with some beaten egg and place onto the hot baking tray.




13. Bake for 10-15 minutes.




14. Serve with jam and loads of clotted cream, seriously, go mad for the clotted cream.






15. Enjoy warm or cold with a nice big mug of tea.




Monday, 1 September 2014

Guest post #1 - Disney inspired outfits!

Aloha all, I'm Danielle from Underland to Wonderland and I am over the moon to have been asked to provide a guest post for you all by Beth. You may click from my blog name that, like Beth, I am a huge Disney nut and so what other subject would be better to write about than of course Disney!

I've seen posts where people put together outfits inspired by people and celebrities but I thought it would be a cool twist to base an outfit from some of my favorite Disney characters, actual wearable outfits! I hope you enjoy it because I certainly had a lot of fun putting it together... so much so that I might even do a part 2 over on my blog :p


Snow White





Mary Poppins





Minnie Mouse





As you can see I've not gone for exact replicas, more like a modern, subtle version that wouldn't make people think you were on your way to a cosplay event! Haha. Would you wear any of these? Which one is your favourite?

Thanks for reading all, and thanks again Beth for having me!