Over the bank holiday weekend the Ty Siriol Clan went to Weymouth in a motorhome. It was the first time I’ve ever spent a reasonable amount of time there and I think I might have fallen in love with the place, well nearly.
For those of you who don’t know I have coeliacs disease and cannot eat gluten (wheat, barley and rye). It is always a challenge to find places out that are safe to eat. Even if the meal wouldn’t normally contain gluten there are many tricks that the catering industry use that add it artificially. Did you know that pre-grated cheese bought in by caterers is dusted with flour to stop it from sticking to itself and keep it looking nice? Often the flour used is wheat so unless the cheese is freshly grated I can’t even eat that!
Anyway, back to Weymouth and what I have found out about where coeliacs can eat.
First we stayed in a delightful campsite in Portesham, Portesham Dairy Farm Campsite where we were self-catering. It was a no frills site with a shower block and kiddies play area. There are plenty of hardstandings with hookups though for the campers out there. The place was spotless and the shower blocks were immaculate. Even though there was no bar onsite, we were only about 250yds from the nearest pub. The good thing about no bar on site is of course that it is peaceful. This site seemed to attract young families like us and L’il Miss Ty Siriol had plenty of friends to run around with. I was really impressed with this site and will definitely be going back in the future.
|Ty Siriol Clan temporary residence.|
If you would like more details about Portesham Dairy Farm Campsite then please check out their website and let them know where you found them.
The downside of going in a motorhome is that it is also used as our car and we have to pack up every time we go somewhere. It can also mean that narrow lanes and parking are an issue. Mr Ty Siriol did exceptionally well though. Our solution to this in Weymouth was to use the new park and ride. At only £3.50 for the day and bus returns included for up to 7 people I thought it was a bargain.
Finally I made it into Weymouth. Then my anxieties about what I could eat started to set in.
|Weymouth front from the Sea life tower.|
The first day I took my lovely (Not!!) gluten free sandwiches with me. The bread is passable if you can warm it up, toast it or dip it in soup but none of these are really feasible when you go out. I dare not make a mistake with my diet as I get so ill and can have anaphylactic reactions so I either find/take something safe or go without. Still, at least the menus and staff all spoke English. I haven’t tried gluten free overseas yet as I’m too chicken.
We did our usual thing and go online to check out the Coeliac UK website. Turns out that we now have to pay to use their site! That’s new.
We did some more searching and found a few recommendations. The first one we tried was ‘The Old Harbour Fish and Chips’. I really miss fish and chips so off we went. I have to say that the food was gorgeous there but don’t expect it to be cheap. Gluten free is ALWAYS a lot more expensive, but this was my treat. Surprisingly, batter is the one thing that we all agree tastes better when it’s gluten free, it’s a lot more crispy. This place had an area for eating in and I really can’t fault the service. We were treated like royalty. I really did enjoy eating there and will go back again. So I had my first victory in Weymouth and was starting to feel better about my diet.
|The Old Habour Fish and Chip shop where coeliacs are catered for.|
Our second day of food hunting didn’t work out quite so well. We found that Wetherspoons have a gluten free menu so we thought we’d check it out. We also needed to sit down after doing a lot of walking. We went into Wetherspoons and in front of everyone we were asked to leave. I didn’t know what the problem was and then we were told that L’il Miss couldn’t come in as she was under 18. This was lunch time at a seaside town! How bonkers! They turned away 3 meal orders and the pub was deserted apart from a few pensioners with coffees.
This wasn’t good. Where could I eat now?
Across the road was a Yates bar. I’m not a fan of these anyway as they are pretentious in my opinion. We still went in though as we needed a drink after being out in the sun. Mr Ty Siriol asked at the bar if they had a gluten free menu. The answer was no. So he asked if they could advise if there were any dishes on the menu that might be suitable. The guy behind the bar simply said no and went back to talking to his mate. Typical Yates service in my opinion. So for the coeliacs out there, Yates are not an option as they can’t even be bothered to talk to you.
We were all getting grumpy and hungry by now so I suggested that they eat without me. Mr Ty Siriol, bless him, said no, we were going to find something as it was my holiday as well.
We turned a corner and found the most amazing stall just after. They were selling cakes that were suitable for as many people as possible. There were gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, fat free and your usual cakes. I had just found heaven. Let me introduce you to Henni’s Sweet Treats.
|Please note that the phone number is now 01305 319930/07731 594182.|
Their website is: www.hennissweettreats.com
|The gentleman was a little shy and hid from the camera.|
|Any array of gluten free cakes and sandwiches (made to order).|
The owner was very knowledgeable about dietary needs and very helpful. I also have other food allergies that he was able to advise about. Henni’s Sweet Treats also holds a certificate for passing the strict gluten free guidelines. He was telling me how they have to send off samples to be tested in the lab in order to get this status and that by the end of the year all gluten free caterers will have to do the same. I wonder though if this means that even less places will try to cater for us?
I bought a large piece of chocolate cake and the price was really good. I would expect to have paid more for normal home cooked cake let alone gluten free. Please check out Henni’s Sweet Treats if you are in Weymouth. They also have stalls in Cowbridge, nr Cardiff, and in Bridgend and Poole.
I walked off feeling very pleased with myself and we ended up in another Wetherspoons. I checked out their pathetic menu and the only proper meal (without having things deducted from your meal but still paying full price) I could eat was a jacket potato with tuna. (Remember, cheese is a no no.) But I didn’t care because after my jacket spud I tucked into my cake while still sat at the table. If they won’t cater for me properly, despite putting themselves on the coeliac UK website, then I will eat outside food at their tables. I was willing to pay for their food afterall if they bothered to live up to their statement. One snack on a whole menu (that might be contaminated) does NOT mean that they are allergy friendly.
So all in all I found Weymouth to be a mixed bag with regard to eating out. I will still go back as it’s a lovely place. At least next time I know I can have fish and chips, GF sandwiches and cake without being ill. Other than that I can always fall back on a jacket potato in a cafe and a very sweet coffee for some energy.
Not all our weekend was food hunting, in case you wondered. We also spent a day at the Sea Life Centre, which we all really enjoyed. We went up the Sea Life Tower, even though Mr Ty Siriol is afraid of heights. I loved the shops around the harbour and mooching through the Bazaar and galleries. And lets not forget the gorgeous beach with it’s yellow powdery sand. L’il Miss had a wonderful time on the the bouncy castles, trampolines etc. We didn’t get to see Punch and Judy this time and I spared the donkeys from having to carry me! There is so much there that I must go back to see it all. I should add as well that Weymouth is flat so it’s ideal for anyone who has mobility issues or young children in pushchairs.
I’ll leave you now with some pics.
|At the beach.|
|The Sea Life Centre, Weymouth|
|Jelly fish under UV light. Why? Because it’s so cool!!!|
|Me digging myself into yet another hole!! Oh, and my attempt at building the Sphinx!|