Friday, 22 June 2012

We're all going on a... dairy free summer holiday!

We're going on our summer holiday next week and despite the stress of all the packing (I've been working on the washing all week) that I know will precede this wondrous event, I'm still excited! The Hub has been working hard in his newish contracting role in the City and I know we could all do with a good break, so hopefully it will be just that.

Where are we going? 
Well, that's a good question. Before Baby was born, the world was our oyster. Since Baby was born, our priorities have changed somewhat - after all we have the dairy free thing to consider and then there's my gluten free thing and we won't go into all the rest...

I read other blogs from time to time of people with food allergies/intolerances jetting off to other lands, but I don't fancy loading my suitcase with all the extra dietary stuff as well as all the Baby stuff. I rather suspect that we'd be charged for extra weight! 

We did drive through France, for a skiing trip, when Baby was four months old. Hideous! The screaming that emanated  from the back of the car for a large portion of the journey (even though we stopped for a night halfway and services almost hourly) shattered the nerves of both of us, and although Baby is generally better in the back, these days... I don't think that, at this point in time, a journey of that length would be advisable for us!

At that point, I was still OK with wheat/gluten, and, apart from lunch, the catering was done for us, by chalet staff. They were there to ski basically, but were trainee chefs... apparently. It was almost amusing spelling out what dairy meant (so many people think that includes eggs) but slightly worrying at the same time. Still, at least they had their special recipe folder!

The main sticking point appeared to be dessert, which I didn't mind missing, as we don't have dessert that often, anyway. Then, one night, they decided to pull all the stops out. Thankfully, I kept my eyes open and managed not to tuck in to their 'dairy free dessert' before they realised their mistake. I thought it looked too good to be true! I felt so bad for them - they looked so crestfallen!

Center Parcs
So, anyway, this year, we've decided to do a repeat of last summer's expedition - as it is based only a few hours drive away and we can stop off at The Hub's sister en route. That way, no planes or services to consider or debate, and oh, did I mention? We're know where we're going, we know what the set-up is like, and we're going to self-cater - it's just easier and less stressful all round. We're going to Center Parcs.

OK, so we're unlikely to see much sunshine, but I'm not much of a one for lying still on a beach, anyway! Besides which, last year's trip was a huge success - even though Baby came down with a tummy bug on the first night, which lasted until the day we left. Despite that we still had an enjoyable time. In fact, it was such a success that Baby howled on the way home 'cos she missed her (slightly) older cousin, her aunt... and probably the beach, as well!

Center Parcs (Longleat) is an ideal set-up for us, for the following reasons:

1. Self-catering - this way, there's no anxiety about the food. The kitchen we had last year was not too badly equipped (although, this year, we're taking our own  potato peeler, chopping knives and frying pan) and bonus - it came with a dishwasher!

2. Free 'Land Train' - to get around the site (it only comes with this particular site). I'm not a cyclist - particularly uphill.

3. Beach with sand - Baby loves sand! 

4. Free play areas all over the site - Baby can't resist a swing!

5. The Forest - it provides a lovely back drop, which deadens noise, is full of wildlife (we had ducks come to our patio for breakfast each morning) and is wonderfully relaxing to stroll though.

6. Family orientated - there's activities for everyone of all ages/interests, most of which you have to pay extra for, but you don't have to pay for the swimming pool, unless you have lessons. I'm not such a fan of the effort involved in getting into a swimming cozzie, but baby needs to start learning soon.

Coffee and cake!
7. Starbucks - which means I can still stop for coffee and cake (gluten and dairy free Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf) just like everyone else.

8. The Sports Cafe - where, if we so desire, we can get lunch. This is no mean feat, if you want dairy free - rarer still if you're gluten free as well! Well, there was last year, anyway. Of course this year, I'll just have to check it's still the same. But yes! It was jacket potato with tuna mayonnaise (had to check the mayo.) for me, and fish fingers and chips, for Baby. But at least that's something! And the cafe came with a soft play area. Baby wasn't big enough last year, but this year...

9. Shopping - Apart from a little shopping arcade which features a shop selling Fat Face clothing (yes really) there's a supermarket on site. It's well-stocked and their prices are pretty much comparable to the supermarkets around where we live. And, wonder of wonders, it includes a free from section! That said, I'm still taking my own particular brand of bread (it's only stocked in certain places) and Baby's milk, spread and snacks - just to be sure!

10. Company! Last year it was the elder of my two sisters and her daughter, this year it's my parents, both my sisters, their husbands and my youngest niece. That way Baby has her cousin to play with and we get adult company in the evenings - something that happens oh, so rarely.

With company, comes added complications - sharing food. Breakfast and lunch people can sort out for themselves - after all everyone is different, and we may be spread out all over the site anyway (doing various activities). Dinner, I thought, might be nice to eat together. So, I've come up with a rota, and a working menu, so that we can all take turns, and it looks something like this:

We're safer self-catering!
Monday - Pan-fried Sea Bass with Sautéed Potatoes 
- cooked in olive oil.

Tuesday - Spaghetti Bolognese 
- with my gluten free, dairyfree, chickpea (Del Ugo) pasta cooked separately.

Wednesday - Shepherd's Pie 
- with my gravy and dairy free spread in the mash. 

Thursday - BBQ
- we'll cook gluten and dairy free sausages and burgers. Baby and I will have the gluten and dairy free rolls.

We may even have dessert! After all, I have a few meringue nests knocking around, somewhere!

That's the plan anyway! Now, let's see if it works!

What about you? Where do you go for a stress free break?

Related Posts:

Simple Sauteed Sea Bass

Simple Shepherd's Pie

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