Greetings my friends, I hope that you are all enjoying the stunning weather we are having at the moment. It is great to be able to sit outside and tap away on my MacBook in the lovely breeze and be warm in the shade!
The sun also makes me want to eat fruit and raw veg, whereas Aaron is all about the gnocchi!! He’s eating between 3-4 baked potatoes worth a day. It is Mediterranean and yummy with fresh tomatoes, garlic and chillies in it, a nice meal to enjoy in the cooler evenings.
Apologies for my absence since Milk Day! We have been away on a school trip to France – our second try with Aars! And I am really happy to say that it went waaaaaaay better than our last school trip to France. Mainly because we were provided with a safe space to make Aars meals.
For those of you who are new to my blog you can read a bit about our last trip here! The gist of it was that the space I was given to cook in on that intital residential was the staff room with teachers from other schools, coach drivers…
On the first night the teachers from one of the other schools got utterly hammered and ate nearly half of the food I had taken with me for Aars to eat!! They also woke up all the coach drivers and behaved appallingly. On the 3rd evening the same teachers spread cheeses all over the room including blue cheeses and Aaron had a reaction which really confused me at the time, but vindicated the school insisting I went with him. (When we returned to the UK and the Allergy clinic the consultant tested him for allergies to mould and lo and behold he is severely allergic to them).
We got very angry and explained the allergy issues once more but they got very drunk again and put all the cheeses on my “safe” shelf in the fridge contaminating more of the remaining food I had taken with us for him to eat! It was stressful and frustrating and I swore afterwards never again!
However – we had heard such rave reviews of this school trip to Normandie with the history of the D-Day landings included in the trip that we signed up to go. I am so glad we did. It was an incredible trip – really varied mix of activities and although I did not know where I was going to be able to cook and feed Aaron until the very last minute, it turned out really well. We were given a gite, five minutes walk from where we were all staying to store, prepare and eat all Aars food in. It was ideal and removed the stress and fear of food getting nicked and contaminated by drunk idiots.
The trip was not without hiccups! The crazy Boulanger insisted that all that was in his bakery was water, flour and salt. I checked with him before Aaron went in that there was no egg, no dairy, no soy, no nuts in his bakery. “No!” He looked at me like I was mad, “We only use flour, water and salt – the normal things to make bread!”
So we could not work out why Aars got blisters up his arm – we wondered if it was to do with gluten or the silver-birch pollen that was heavy inland where we were, and Aaron got really disheartened thinking it was yet another new thing he was going to have to avoid…
As we were leaving the boulangerie I saw the woman who had been “cleaning” out the bowls stacking cookies into basket, so I went to her and asked what was in them. I asked if they had eggs or milk in them, and the Boulanger looked at me like I was a moron and answered “Of course – what else do you make chocolate chip cookies with if not with eggs and butter and chocolate?” Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
At least we then understood why Aaron had reacted!
The other thing which really helped the trip was that the coach leader set a great tone. She was calm and inclusive as much as she could be and totally chill when we had to steer clear of certain situations. We hand sanitised the kids after every foodie experience as they got on the coach. Overall it was a very positive experience.
One of the things that I noticed immediately though, was how food is such a social thing even at that young age and because of the risk of anaphylaxis and contact allergy Aaron had to sit apart from the others when they are eating. It is a really isolating condition to live with, and that made me sad. I am not sure how to combat that or counter it in life. If any of you have any ideas about this I would love to hear them.
I think we also consume way more than we used to; food is everywhere all the time so it means that there is way more risky moments in everyday life, and the need to be that little bit apart from others is necessary more and more.
The good thing that came out of the residential was that by the end Aars was engaging more with his peers when it was free-time and no food was involved.
I feel very blessed that the school is inclusive and that even if the deal is that I have to go with him, he still gets to go. We learnt masses on the trip and I really enjoyed being amongst a group of adults thrown together – who I otherwise would not know.
If you have a child who has severe allergies like Aaron and have been told you have to go on school residentials don’t let it put you off. My expectations going into the trip were really low following the previous school trip but at the end of this trip the teachers were encouraging us to do the residential next year. We have confidence in them and they in us. A very positive result. If you want any tips or advice please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to share what I have learnt so far on surviving school trips abroad ;P
smiles and love and some yummy gnocchi as I part!