Eating out with an allergy can be hellish (part 1 of many)

My first Japanese meal with allergy card

Recently I have had a number of experiences while eating out which have caused me some real concern. I have an allergy to quite a few things as most of you know if you been following my blog for a while.

A colleague suggested I should blog about my experiences in different restaurants while a friend also pointed out that I should be reporting them.

I like both ideas I just need to find more time to do both.

So I thought I’d start by blogging about a few recently and maybe in the future create batches of blogs with the worst offenders reported to the environmental health agency.

Wagamamas Media City UK, Salford

I didn’t have a big problem with Wagamamas and not really had too much of a problem in the past. This time I wasn’t that pleased about the fuss while taking my order (chilli chicken) and finally when the food came out. Wagamamas draw numbers on your paper place-mats which is fine and helpful. This time I got a big A which later when asked meant allergy (I could have guessed that) but the one I was more confused about was the AA to the side of it. Later they explained that AA meant Against Advice to reflect how I had asked for the standard chicken not the super plain chicken with nothing on it! There was no way I was doing that!

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3 A’s. Allergy and against advice…

My meal took a long time to come out, compared to my colleagues.

It was fine and to be fair I took the mick a little when they came around and kept asking how I was doing.

In short less fuss would be nice, I felt a bit crap about the whole against allergy thing. Like it would be used against me if anything happened. Its not as bad as the Leaf sign a contract thing however so it was minor

Manchester Chinese Restaurant, Chinatown, Manchester

The next day after the whole Wagamamas thing, I went to lunch with a friend. Having Chinese at lunch quite different for me but I went with it. Been interested in the results of having a larger meal earlier in the day.

Now to be fair I didn’t actually disclose my allergies because of the fuss the day before and I ordered 3 meats (pork, chicken and duck) with egg fried rice. It was pretty straight forward and checked with the waitress if there was peas in the fried rice, which was a no.

It wasn’t long before I could feel my stomach feeling rough from the food. The back of my throat was feeling scratchy and I was consuming a lot of free tap water. Time to pop a single antihistamine see if it will get better. About 10mins later it was getting worst, I needed to take 2 more antihistamines and head home.

At home I was sick, luckily not violently sick but enough and soon after I was out for the count for about a 90mins.

It was my fault for not saying but I didn’t want the fuss of the day before.

Las Iguanus, Royal festival hall, London

I never really had a problem with Las Iguanus, like Wagaamams these chains are not too bad about having allergy menus. Because of Manchester Chinese Restaurant I decided to disclose when the waiter asked if anyone was veggie or gluten intolerant.

The results were a little usual.

Usually they switch so only the manager can take my order, everything has be explained to me about trace amounts in the kitchen… etc.

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#allergenaware?

This time I had to read a disclaimer on a tablet and click yes I understand. I looked for the whole we are not responsible and you wave your rights stuff but didn’t see anything like that. I was quite short but also small. I have good eye sight so could read it all clearly. Once I did that, I could look at the allergen menu on the same tablet screen. Lots of scrolling back and forth but what I ordered was so simple (Tacos with meat and veg) it was pretty much allergen-less.

Afterwards my food took a long time to come out but was good. It was clear they were busy and although I had to click the button it was reasonably quick and didn’t need the manager to check through things.

To a Tea, Farringdon , London

This place is what prompted me to write this blog today. I went in for lunch and choose something which was meat free. At each table there is a tablet with the menu and the ability to order from there. I looked at two things (mac & cheese or vegetable tart/frittata).

At the bottom of the screen was a message saying…

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Food Allergies and Intolerances Please speak to our staff about the ingredients in your meal, when making your order. Thank you.

So I did and it was an awful experience. I just don’t understand why the ingredients are not listed on the tablet. It could be perfect but no…

First there was no Mac & Cheese so that was out. Then I wanted to know what was in the frittata? They couldn’t tell me. I was low on time so I ordered and check if it had most of the things I expect might be a problem. No Nuts, Beans and Peas I was told. So I ordered (I should have left and gone elsewhere but I already had my flowering tea). When ordering I had a problem with the menu, as I had to add 2 salads to it too. In the end I choose Mushroom & Greens and then Tabbouleh. Checked again about the common stuff which might be added.

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No worries, when it finally came it looked like it had pesto on it. Checking before I touched it was basil. Started eating the salad and it was fine. However when I took a bite of the frittata, my spidery senses went wild.

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I asked they what is the ingredients in the frittata which seemed to be made on site or not far away. They couldn’t give me an answer except vegetables and pastry. Not at all helpful in anyway. I gave them my allergy card and the chef went back stage to check if it was ok. They returned with a box full of tabbouleh and a new frittata, muttering something about some cross contamination. I paid and left with my food box, later I had the tabbouleh no problem but one bite into the new frittata, instantly sent my allergies going.

It wasn’t all bad the tea was very good…

Expect more of these in the future.

Exploiting technology or exploited by technology?

Mobile payments

In my Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Oct 2019) I wrote brief bit about the curious tale.

Exploiting technology or exploited by technology?
https://www.ft.com/content/e8a177d4-dfae-11e9-9743-db5a370481bc
ian thinks: curious tale, but it does raise a question about digital access and backups. Least we forget about power and when things go technically wrong.

The FT puts things behind the paywall, so here’s a copy I made on wallabag.

Its a number of mistakes which leads to £476.50 fine and a wrongful conviction. This made me reflect on my own usage..

I personally don’t use my phone to pay for things and like the idea of the Curve card because although the mobile app is useful, it can be used without my phone. I do have a card attached to my phone but never use it.

When using mobile tickets for flights and planes, I put them into google drive meaning if my phone is dead, broken or stolen I can still get the tickets with my other devices or another persons device. For this reason I avoid all apps which only display the ticket in side of it. For example the trainline app’s eticket isn’t ideal, hence why I tend to get paper tickets still. When travelling via a plane, I find most of the airlines have a copy you can get via PDF with the 3D barcode included. This goes straight into Gdrive and synced with dropbox on all my systems.
This is also why I prefer services which work offline because mobile/wifi access can be patchy and I don’t want to be reliant on network access to get into my password store or for the 2nd factor. Google maps offline has been a massive help in the past and I haven’t had a bill like I got in America in over 10 years. Shame it doesn’t sync the offline maps to my other devices

I always tend to carry around a battery pack and have a stash of cables in my laptop bag and try and keep the phone charged enough. Especially when going somewhere for a while. Everyone use to follow the ABCs (always be charging) but we all know that’d not great for lithium ion batteries.

Seems a lot to think about but so far its served me well…

Make the bold move and take a risk?

With all the chaos of the UK government right now, along comes a video which speaks to me.

My advice is to go for the bold move and take a risk. And if that risk means putting yourself way out there in an interview, or if that risk means having to move to a city you weren’t sure you wanted to live in, or if that risk means trying a field that wasn’t your first choice, do it.

That move is on my mind a lot.

Complaints are welcomed at Channel4

We’ve made a film featuring our talent bringing to life genuine complaints which viewers have made about them. We understand that not every programme, or even every presenter, is going to be everyone’s cup of tea. That’s because Channel 4 was set up to be different, to provoke debate, take bold creative risks and represent unheard voices from all around the country. So sometimes we may cause a bit of a stir, but that’s part of our job.

Do like this video, Channel4’s humour around feedback is very welcomed.

Heartbreak production’s Romeo & Juliet

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Got to hand it to the heartbreak theatre experience. Myself and my partner planned to experience their outdoor theatre play of Romeo & Juliet in Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens, Didsbury but the Manchester weather is never sympathetic to outdoor events, so we watched it in a church hall instead.

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Regardless it was great to see and very enjoyable, certainly deserved a note on my blog. Really fun and great to see improve working well for this talented group.

There was a feedback paper form but with no pen to fill it in, it seemed like a better idea to blog it instead.

The truth behind the UK’s biggest recycling myths

recycle symbol

Wired magazine have a piece about the myths of recycling in the UK. Quite a interesting reading, as a lot of the truths behind the myths are quite surprising.

Receipts are recyclable – False

The UK still hands out 11 billion receipts every year, and around 50 per cent of these – printed on shiny, thermal paper – are not recyclable. This is because they’re composed of more than one material and contain a combination of potentially harmful BPA and BPS chemicals. If they were recycled, these chemicals would be released into the environment. So, always put these in regular waste.

This one surprised me a lot because I’ve been known to shred all my receipts and then throw the lot in paper recycling. Won’t be doing that any more!

Petiquette in coffee shops

Petiquette at Ezra & Gil

As you likely guessed from previous posts, I’m not a dog person at all. I’ve been bitten too many times and are generally nervous around them. But I get there are people who love their dog like its their family members (ok I do find that odd).

But I find dogs in cafes questionable.

I have seen dogs on seats, chairs and table tops. Witnessed and left as they have barked the place down, attacked each other, seen them walking around loose with no lead. Its seriously not a place where I feel comfortable and I’m sure others feel the same; even the dog lovers.

This is why I was impressed to see Ezra & Gil’s #Ezrapetiquette (even if it looks like Ez-rape?).

  1. Ensure your dog is housetrained.
  2. Your dog is well behaved & can sit, stay & come on command.
  3. Your dog is kept on a lead at all times.
  4. Make sure your dog doesn’t disturb other customers.
  5. Your dog is kept on a floor & away from food.
  6. Your dog is not anxious & uncomfortable around people.
  7. Pack waste bags incase of any accidents,
  8. Dog Lovers – please ensure you ask owners permission before petting their dogs.

This might seem very obvious, but like many conferences include a code of conduct. Some people need a little reminder and theres got to be a clear expression of whats accepted and not. Dogs on tables and chairs wouldn’t be accepted if I was writing one.

Following my partners dog bite in the hotel, I re-read the dangerous dogs act again, and found this part very interesting.

Under the Act, it’s illegal for a dog to be ‘out of control’ or to bite or attack someone. The legislation also makes it an offence if a person is worried or afraid (the term is ‘reasonable apprehension’) that a dog may bite them. So it’s important to ensure that your dog is kept under control at all times and in all places.

Something to remind dog owners of as I head for the door next time.

Son of Hibachi portable BBQ is 5 stars

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Its hot and there’s nothing better than some time outside cooking away. I usually use those portable disposable BBQs when away from home but thats about to change…

I bought the Son of Hibachi portable BBQ a while ago but never actually used it till last week. I was impressed before and after using it even more so.

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Easy to clean, sensible way to start the BBQ. Excellent size and just a amazing portable BBQ. Can’t wait to get it on the scooter and on to a beach. Maybe while playing some Volleyball or something.

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New diabolo tricks with J-sliding

I’m still working out how to do a vertex as I wrote in my new years resolutions. But while looking for videos to help explain where I might be going wrong, I found a new category of tricks called j-sliding?

J-SLIDING is a new style of juggling with diabolo, 
that enables you to do more tricks.

Its not quite the shift of the vertex before this, or the suicide before that and the grind before that. But interesting move forward regardless.

Everyone needs a little self-care time

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Nothing better than a little self-care, by indudging my love of rollercoasters

Its a lesson I’ve learned after many mistakes from a previous life (before my brush with death). Taking some time for myself to chill out a little, especially after one of those busy weeks that I sometimes post.

A while ago during my sabbatical after my brush with death, I did read (listen) to a lot of things, this is also when I decided to get hypnotherapy for my fear of needles. Another thing I picked up was the idea of self-care.

Selfcare is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good selfcare is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety.

I tie it directly to the conscious living lifestyle which is simple in concept again but being mindful is more tricky that it first seems. For example one of the things I do is plan in self-care time in my calendar, especially when I identify a potentially stressful period coming up. It could be a great time away for work but flights are always full of stressful moments and finding hotels etc. For example last week, I flew to Madrid to talk at the xR fest. It was great but the weather temperature hit a maximum of 41c and my flights were via Brussels. I knew the connection was tight with 55mins between landing and the connecting flight leaving.

Express connection ticketOf course we didn’t actually get into the air for 45mins from Manchester, giving me no time to run across the airport through passport control with the express connection ticket and luckily catch my flight as it was also delayed and they couldn’t quite close the gate with people arriving from previous flights. Trust me it was a close call!

This is all the stuff I thought about while resting in the hot tub at the Hilton Hotel Manchester Monday July 1st. I had planned in a day off and took advantage of a treatment some kind friend had bought me for my 40th birthday.

While listening to The Nod recently I was impressed with the discussion about Self-Care. There were two aspects I liked quite a lot (wish I could transcribe it). In summary the conversation was about getting men (especially black men, being a black culture podcast) to consider self-care as part of being masculine. The discussion reminded me of a discussion I had a long while ago about the game being a self-help book for men who usually avoided self-help books.

Self-care is clearly important but its equally important to find what works for you. The example of a yoga retreat just doesn’t work for me although it might work for others. My kind of self-care is certainly spas and rollercoaster parks

Maybe your more a sleep in long hours type person or rearrange and clean the house hygge person. What ever it truly is (and I mean truly deeep down) then a little self-care when things get tough is really a life savor!

Where would you ride this in the UK?

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I really enjoyed riding around these around in Bucharest 3 years ago. Its also something I was thinking about when I went to the future of transport futurists a while back.

It was surprising to see it and other things on sale in El Corte Ingles department store (Spanish department store like Debenhams type), in the same place where you might see laptops or something like that.

I was also surprised about the price to be honest. I always assumed they would be closer to 1000 pounds/euros. There was also a electric skateboard which when I lifted it, was better than what I tried before. I have to say these electric roller skates are insane.

Electric skates?

The question still remains about where are you allowed to actually ride these in the UK? I know the UK government set out their strategy for the future of mobility, and a bit more about the last mile transport. But still no clear ruling. I certainly would like to see our streets a bit more like the European cities.

The height issue and self-confidence

I was reading a piece about short kings a new coined term for short men.

The whole thing is about how men under 6ft tall are always the brunt of jokes and bullying. There’s also some critical points about the way society,  masculinity and our culture thinks about short men.

Sizeism is hard to avoid on dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder, where users commonly forbid men under 6ft from contacting them. Tinder even made a 2019 April Fool’s joke about launching a “height verification” update that would prevent guys from exaggerating their stature.

Yet short-shaming isn’t harmless. “There’s a host of studies that show short men are stigmatized in many ways, not only in people’s perception, but in actual real world outcomes as well,” says Joseph Vandello, a social psychologist at the University of Southern Florida. “People perceive shorter men as having fewer leadership qualities,” he says, citing findings that majority of American CEOs are over 6ft in and voters prefer tall presidential candidates (including, at 6ft 2in, Trump).

All this starts early – even in kindergarten, studies have found, teachers perceive the shortest boys in their class as less academically capable than their peers.

Height is also perceived to correlate directly with masculinity. As Vandello explains: “Because of [the correlation between height and perceived masculinity], a lot of men feel kind of a chronic sense of anxiety and uncertainty about their manhood status.” Insecurity generally manifests in oversensitivity to insult (which may contribute to the stereotype of short men as angry, resentful, over-compensating Napoleons.)

I’m almost 6ft tall at 5ft 11 so rarely gotten much of the criticism of others much shorter than myself.

It got me thinking about a few things related to height in the past. Okcupids the big lies people tell in online dating and also the discussion we had on BBC Radio Merseyside about height. Even then, I was thinking there’s got to be a connection with self confidence here, for example a lot of the women I spoke to who couldn’t imagine dating someone shorter than them was shocking. Likewise men who wouldn’t dare date someone taller was equally shocking. This is where I started keeping a rough tally on how self-confident they appeared, and it seemed my rough theory might have something about it?

Like many short men, Steven recalls an adolescence spent believing masculinity was defined by a set of immutable characteristics – like being tall and imposing – and that by not fitting that ideal he was “kind of cursed.”

But as he grew up, he began thinking about manhood as something he could develop by embodying his values, rather than a blunt appraisal of his physical self. “I think to be masculine, to be manly, whatever that word means, is about doing good in the world. It’s about contributing. It’s about finding a way to serve other people, to be kind, to be strong in defense of those who need strength in their corner. The more masculinity is an idea of service the more I think it is helpful.

Now happily committed to a taller woman, Brendan hardly thinks about his height at all. “Once you get into that sense of self-confidence the height issue kind of melts away,” he says.

In agreement on how to taste chocolate

Join about the way to taste chocolate

So a while ago I wrote about Zotter chocolate’s tasting tips.

Savouring chocolate?

I shared it out as usual via Twitter and Mastodon. But didn’t really think much more about it, till yesterday during TVX 2019 when a Austrian man offered me a bar of  Zotter chocolate from Zotter, who happens to be just around the corner from where he lives..

Zotter schilcher-kurbisnougat chocolate Amazing gift and completely out of the blue, I forget people actually read my posts. I was dumbfounded when he offered me the chocolate and explained everything, so shocked I forgot to take his name while taking the selfie. Hopefully he  will see this post and add a comment.

The chocolate is tricky one, as I’m not totally sure whats in it.

Using Google translate, it says

Schilcher + pumpkin nougat

Two Styrian specialties mix with unique dark milk chocolate with 60% cocoa content. A ganache with sparkling Schilcher rosé wine combined with a tenderly melting layer of pumpkin seed nougat. 

The ingredients translate to

Extra dark milk chocolate ° filled with Schilcher ganache ° (30%) and pumpkin seed

nougat ° (16%) – containing alcohol Ingredients: raw cane sugar °, cocoa butter °, cocoa mass °, pumpkin seeds °, whole milk powder °, butter °, glucose inverted syrup °, grappa °, Schilcher ° (contains sulfites), raisins °, skimmed milk powder °, sweet whey powder °, rock salt 
Emulsifier: soya lecithin °, whole cane sugar °, vanilla 
bean powder °, cinnamon ° Cocoa (cocoa mass and cocoa butter): 60% at least in extra dark milk chocolate ° Tradeed

May contain traces of nuts, peanuts, eggs and sesame.

So nothing I don’t think there is anything I can’t eat in it, except I wonder about Nougat.

Wonderful present and massive thank you…