Ice Ice Baby! (had to be said!)

The frost has arrived in Poland.

Every morning we go out and scrape the car, I bought 3 scrapers. Every morning the kids go ‘ICE! MUMMA ICE! Look, its snow’. Every morning I have to tell them its not snow, only frost. They nod and say, ‘almost like snow mumma’. Im not sure who is more exited at this point, me or them! They are exited for the snow, I am exited to see their faces when it comes.

V was very offended the other day when I told his teacher he has never seen snow. ‘YES I HAVE! I saw it in Mall of Emirates! Ski Dubai!’, What he failed to mention is that ski Dubai is an indoor ski slope, in a mall, and that we were watching from the outside, through a thick window, while dressed in summer clothes.

My kids are in for a big surprise! So exiting!!

-Linda

Having 3 way conversations.

My life lately goes something like this.

Me ‘Hi (BIG smile), do you speak English?

Person ‘little (while blushing and looking around a little bit panicked)’.

Im not sure why people get embarrassed, clearly the problem here is mine, Im the one in a foreign country that doesn’t speak the language (although Im picking it up, rather fast!). I must say, I have been fortunate to have some awesome people helping me. The lady in the line in the post office who helped me translate when the cashier spoke no English, the customer in the Orange shop who helped me translate. The manager in Piotr i Pawel who took his time to help me translate food labels today. Then we have the even more patient people who my hubby helps to translate to, the awesome lady in the Pesel number place who patiently helped me with forms and everything while hubby was being passed between us (on the phone, obviously). The doctor who got given A’s entire medical history first by me in english and then by hubby in Polish over the phone, who waited patiently while hubby translated all the dosages of new meds to me and made sure I understood. The NC+ installation guy who had the hubby on skype translating for us.

I zone in on the younger people now if I need to ask something, they are more likely to speak English well it seems, like the girl in H&M who has lived in London and who nearly made me cry with her perfect East End accent, the girl in the Mac shop who has studied in Cambridge and speaks the queens English almost as well as the Queen. These are the people I almost want to hug! Being understood is such a huge part of life, I never realised what a difference it can really make in how we feel.

So I struggle on, but more then anything, I am managing, thanks to awesome people in shops and a very patient husband.

And then there is my new book…..

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-Linda

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2 Weeks and 4 days in Poland!

2 Weeks and 4 days in Poland, and I owe you all a post!

So we left Dubai, flew on some airplanes and arrived in Poland. With a gazillion suitcases and 2 rental cars we made our way to our new house.

Now let me tell you, the thought of moving to a new place and arriving at an empty house – a clean slate – and getting to buy everything new might seem like every woman’s dream, or at least mine. The reality is somewhat different. Not so much a dream at all actually, more like a nightmare. We arrived, the drive had taken longer then anticipated, kids were tired and cranky, me and hubby were tired and cranky after night flights with no sleep. The house which was meant to be clean was not clean (to my standard) in the slightest. All we wanted was a coffee, a shower, and to sit. All we had, was empty and dirt.

The plan we had was pretty much out the window immediately. Hubby went to IKEA and got us 2 mattresses while me and little miss laid down on top of all the coats and slept. Big brother played with his lego (don’t ask where he gets all his energy from!). When hubby came back he took care of everything bless him, I had to take a migraine pill because the tiredness and stress together with the paint fumes in the house had made me vomit.

In the morning we had petrol station coffee and milk and snacks from our hand luggage. We unpacked a few things (on to the floor) and hit the shops. It wasn’t this wonderful shopping experience at all. It was more like something out of a TV gameshow, you know the ones, ‘find everything on a list in 3 minutes or loose’ type thing. Finding everything fast may have been easier if descriptions were in English, but obviously this is not the case. Enough time has passed now that I can smile about it. Not laugh, not yet!

We got a vacuum cleaner and minney mouse single use plates and planes cups. We got coffee and sugar (!!), some cereal, and plastic cutlery. Cleaning products to satisfy my obsessive need to always keep everything super clean (a need that is already sort of not so important now that I don’t have a maid! Either that or Im just choosing not to see the dust).

Then there was the IKEA speed shopping, pretty much the same thing. Half way through hubby says ‘in half an hour we have to be at XXX, so you best hurry’. Hardly the blissful shopping experience I had imagined. Pretty much every shopping experience during the first week was like that. We had to register me in a million places (ok, fine, 2, but it seemed a lot at the time).

Even buying a car was the same thing. With 2 days left of hubbies time with us we drove 2 hours to see the car we wanted…. the car, obviously, had some kind of engine failure during the test drive. Back we came to the house, car less, with an awful lot of cash in my handbag knowing we had to find a car NOW. We found one, took it without a test drive ,with warranty from the dealer in our defence. The Dealer must think we are crazy, we pretty much walked in, looked at two cars, pointed at one, ‘That one’, ‘Where do we sign’ and walked out, lol.

When hubby left all the maddest craziest stuff was done and I got to go to Ikea and buy some candles and other bits. That was the ‘a woman’s touch’ thing people are always talking about, that was the buying I enjoyed. Who knew 4 candles and a vase could mean so much?

Spare grandparents came and helped us put together furniture, helped make our house a home, then kids started school, the dogs arrived safe and sound from Dubai, the week flew by, I was able to get lots done while the kids were in school. So here we are, its Sunday. We have been in Poland for 2 weeks and 4 days. Yesterday was the first time we did stuff just for us. We took a walk and did some driving in our area to explore. We saw cabbage fields being harvested and some amazing nature. Came back to a rich chicken casserole.

In all our speed shopping  something that has stood out to us every where we have been, is the colours! Something as simple as the street outside the bank looks pretty when its all orange and red and yellow!

I have obviously been to almost every food shop in our end of town by now, but I think this will need to be a separate post!

-Linda

Bye Bye Dubai!

So thats it, the bags are packed, the taxi is booked, the furniture is all sold and picked up. Tomorrow afternoon, we will be in our new house in Poland (without any furniture but hey ho). We are super super exited, super super ready, and I think Im done with the tears… only those on the same plane as us will know if thats true, lol.

Yesterday we drove to Abu Dhabi, and the camels were all lined up at the fence, to say goodbye! So for the first time in 8 years, we got out of the car and went and touristy took pictures of camels.

So, I leave you with this happy camel who looks like he’s whistling and say, See you in Poland!

-Linda

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The end of an era…..

The days are flying by, seems like only yesterday our big move was over a month away, now its a matter of days… How do you end an era? Because thats what it is. 8 years in the country where I met my husband, fell in love, got married, had 2 children, lived laughed and cried and breathed… for 8 years. How DO you wrap it up? Its not about things. I never cared about things, I moved country enough times to not care about the ‘stuff’. Its the people, the place the air (the very air we are going away from), the colours of the landscape, the school runs and Catboy and Geordie bird and the school run song and my mummy friends and the teachers and the SCHOOL! Our awesome school that has gone out of their way to be the best school they could possibly be for our celiac kid. The pizza lady who became Auntinka, Glutenfree UAE and the support group that I started and that supported ME also, our celiac buddies (as my husband so lovingly calls them), our HOME.

Just how DO you wrap it all up….? Im so exited, but am I ready…? Don’t think I ever will be…..

-Linda

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Gluten Free & Me…. and Poland!!??

Isn’t it strange the things we worry about in life? Like now, Im sat here stressing over my blog name, because its a gluten (free) blog, not a travel blog, and holy crap I’m moving to Poland. In one month. Then my sane voice in my head says, ‘chill woman, who cares, not like that many people read your blog anyway, and so what if it says gluten free, it also says ME’.

Not going to bore you all with what the other voice replies. Instead I will just take a deep breath and try to calm myself.

My life, is gluten free. Gluten free is with me, everywhere I go. Its my friend, my enemy, the one thing in my life that is always there, no matter which direction I turn. So yeah. Gluten free….. and me…. and soon… Poland!

Strangely one of the things Im most exited about is having a letter box, at my door! Here in Dubai everyone has a PO box. I miss letter boxes, and I didn’t even realise how much until I got super exited about having one again. Lets just hope I get things other then bills eh?

1 month to go.

-Linda

A month in Europe and a month worth of biscuits!

I was hoping to blog whilst in Europe… well obviously I didn’t. I was to busy EATING my way through Europe. Im not sure Europeans even know how lucky they are? There are so many products. Normally I don’t buy processed gluten free, mainly maybe because there isn’t much available here (in Dubai), but when faced with hundreds of packets of biscuits that all look super yummy, whats a girl to do?? Then of course there are all the traditional foods that the kids had to try, like prince sausage and danger sausage (falukorv)!

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So what did we do in Europe? We ate. And we visited every grocery store we could find (bad habit). You could say that going to grocery stores for us like was sightseeing might be for other tourists. I just call it research. Eating biscuits of course also falls under research…. right? 😀 IMG_1728

In Poland Gluten Free was a little bit harder, partly because I don’t speak any Polish, my poor husband had to translate all the labels unless I knew the brand. Many of the shops didn’t have a dedicated gluten free section, but we were in a small town most of the time, so Im guessing its different in the larger cities.

Sweden however… was amazing! Even the smallest country store imaginable would have something gluten free. We not only avoid gluten, we also avoid products with wheat starch (the gluten free kind) as Celiac kid is so sensitive, but even if we take away the products with wheat starch, every supermarket we visited still had more then any supermarket here. It was so refreshing to be able to feel somewhat like a ‘normal’ family, although somewhat fattening for the researcher! IMG_1848

The hospitality of the people we visited with was also amazing, here Im so used to bringing everything for Celiac kid (then I just pretend eat myself as Im not a diagnosed Celiac so really have no great excuse), but in Sweden, I didn’t even mention anything to anyone, brought my stuff along, and everyone had gluten free stuff for us! No questions, just 100% normal! Celiac kid was surprised, happy of course, but couldn’t really understand…. ‘is everything gluten free in this land mumma?’ she asked me.

If only.

Even better, the reactions we had in Europe were not as bad as the ones here, she seemed to thrive in the climate, the air, the freshness everywhere, and the reactions were small and eased off way faster then usual (more about that in my next post). IMG_1750

As far as first experiences go for the expat kids we saw, crabs, frogs, cows (they ARE real!!), forests, snails, we climbed trees, we climbed rocks, we wore wellies and we jumped in puddles, we walked everywhere and we drove a baby car and went on a tram.  Oh, and Celiac kid broke her arm on the first full day in Poland.

These things happen I guess.

Europe is pretty. Prettier then I remembered, and even prettier through the eyes of someone that doesnt live there. I had the added bonus of seeing it for the first time through the eyes of my children. What a privilege.

-Linda

Let the packing begin….

travel_064And so today the suitcases come out, I need to figure out what we are bringing and do a test pack, tomorrow is the last day for washing things and getting anything we may have forgotten. But what DO you bring when you are a gluten free family going to Europe for a month…? Let me tell you, ALOT.

The list making started weeks ago, medications, inhalers, medical related documents, food, electronics, frying pan, lunch box, etc etc. Clothes are very very far down the list. Shoes are another problem, kids only own school shoes and flip flops, me, I only own flip flops! Thats what happens when you live in a country that has summer pretty much all year. Going to Europe now, to us, will seem like stepping in to winter. We did buy a pair of shoes each the other day, but Im not so sure it will be enough?

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Celiac kid calls us the flip flop family, guessing now we can be the converse family 🙂

You might wonder why we are bringing a frying pan? (Yes, we ARE bringing a frying pan, I wasn’t joking) Well, non stick pans can soak up gluten, and while we have kitchen access the entire time we are away, Im not sure there are stainless steel pans available, so what to do?  Im also thinking I may bring a toaster…. is that weird..? If we were away for just a week or so Id go with toaster bags, but we are away an entire month! The amount I’ll spend on toaster bags can probably buy us a new toaster…? This is the longest we will have been away since diagnosis, and although Im exited and looking forward to it, I also know that one mistake can cost us more then its worth. So plan plan plan. Long gone are the days when I breezed through airports looking chilled and comfortable, now Im the woman with bags and kids everywhere who has packed half the house and then some. Oh well.

Happy Holidays to us, if you see me back here in the near future you will know I survived the packing stage!

-Linda

Staycation, a Gluten Free trip to Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa.

Originally posted on Gluten Free UAE in August 2012

Like many other gluten free families, we rarely travel unless its for a big reason. Those last minute trips and sleepovers that were so much fun before, are no longer possible. Even short trips away require planning and shopping, and plenty of worry and stress. What if there is no gluten free food? What if our Celiac gets contaminated and spends the whole trip being ill?

Having spent the whole summer (so far) here in the UAE, and many many loooong hot days doing very little, me and the kids were absolutely climbing the walls. Lets take the risk, lets GO somewhere!

We booked one night at the Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa. One night , because booking 2 nights seemed very very risky, given that we didn’t know how it would work, gluten free wise.

We brought with us a loaf of freshly made gluten free bread, plenty of biscuits, crisps and bananas, crossed our fingers and left. We had a big breakfast before leaving, plenty of snacks, and some sandwiches in a cool box, worst case scenario all we eat is dinner, then if its not that great we can always go home after breakfast tomorrow we thought.

We really needn’t  have worried. Not long after arriving we had been introduced to the Executive Chef and Half the waiting staff. A basket of fruit and a tray of sweets (all gluten free) were sent to our room, as well as a basket of bread rolls. The bread was good! Too good, I had to call the kitchen just to double check that it really was gluten free (you just never know right?).

We had a great afternoon by the pool, the kids going crazy on the water slide and enjoying being outdoors.

Dinner time came, and we went to the restaurant. We were looked after like celebrities at this point, the ‘gluten free family’, yes yes, here. The head waiter came to greet us. We discussed what our Celiac would eat and it was decided she would have chicken (plain, no marinade, made in a clean pan) and home made chips made in a clean pan with new oil. Plain perhaps, but absolutely perfect for a Celiac 3 year old, and in terms of stress levels for the mum, less is more!

The rest of us had the Iftar buffet avoiding obvious gluten. When out of the house we don’t worry about trace amounts or contamination for the rest of us, but we wouldn’t eat ‘real bread’ around her, besides, real bread now makes me ill too!

The chef also made us some gorgeous home made thin and crispy potato chips (crisps).

We had a nice and relaxed evening and a good sleep.

Breakfast came and another buffet for the rest of us. We had 3 types of gluten free bread given to us, and we all enjoyed them. Had our celiac wanted eggs, or bacon or anything else, a fresh portion would have been made for her in a clean pan just to be sure. She was quite content though – stuffing herself with bread rolls!

We enjoyed lunch in the pool snack bar before leaving, another meal which went off without a hitch. The Celiacs meal was made in the main kitchen- again under the watchful eyes of the executive chef.

Our short break has given us not just a well deserved break, but also some extra confidence. We will be going away soon again for sure. Maybe even for 2-3 nights.

A big thanks to executive chef Tarek Mouriess and his staff for looking after so well. We will be back 🙂

-Linda

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I am not a food critic, or a resort critic (I bet you can tell!) But I really wanted to share our POSITIVE experience with you all, because for some people – like us – food safety is top priority. So while I may not be able to tell you about the succulent this or that, I can tell you that our Celiac was happy, and didn’t get ill! :)) Apologies for the bad pictures, they were taken in hindsight with a very dirty iPhone! 

Check out the Fujairah Rotana

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