Monday, 25 May 2015

IN THE PAPERS


MADE IN ESSEX NEWSPAPER - 23 APRIL 2015


ROMFORD RECORDER NEWSPAPER - 24 APRIL 2015

THE ULTIMATE PACKING LIST FOR MT. EVEREST BASE CAMP, NEPAL



The following packing list for the Mt. Everest Base Camp trek has been prepared by Christina.

Trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp is a contender on many bucket lists. However, taking the right gear can make or break that lifetime expedition. Here is what I packed for my 12 day trek over March-April 2015 sleeping in both tents and teahouses.



KIT LIST

BASE-LAYER
  • Sports bra x 2
  • Underwear x 6 (make sure they are breathable e.g. merino wool)
  • Socks x 2 lining socks, x 2 padded trekking socks and x 2 coolmax trekking socks
  • Ice breaker long sleeve top x 2
  • Ice breaker bottom x 1 (for higher altitude/sleeping)

MID-LAYER
  • T-shirt x 3 merino wool. TIP: Although black is great for concealing dirt, black is a sun magnet
  • Polarartec full-length zipper fleece x 2

OUTER-LAYER

CLOTHING ACCESSORIES
  • Windproof gloves x 1
  • Down gloves  x 1
  • Merino glove liners (for warmth, or to wear at night) x 1 or skin liner glove
  • Woolly hat x 1
  • Wide-brimmed hat x 1 (a wide-brimmed hat rather than a baseball cap is best. Although not very stylish, it offers the greatest protection from the sun)
  • Buff x 1 (I definitely recommend this. It can be used as a neck warmer, balaclava, head band or in 10 other ways)
  • Balaclava x 1 (for higher up as it can get cold / to wear at night) NOTE: I did not wear mine as the Buff was sufficient
  • Sunglasses x 1 (polarised glasses and UV protection)

HIKING ACCESSORIES
  • Water hydration system x 1 (TIP: Buy a 2L CamelBak (not a 3L - you will carry unnecessary weight). The Osprey water hydration systems are also very good - they are easier to fill up and have a sturdy back)
  • Hiking poles (invest in a good set e.g. Lexi or Black Diamond. These saved my knees and I would not have made it to Base Camp without them. Make sure that they are height adjustable)
  • Rain cover for your day pack
  • Drink bottle (1L). I hardly used mine as I continuously filled up my CamelBak. If you do decide to do this, ensure that it can withstand hot water
  • S-biners / carabiners (very useful for attaching to your bag for drying clothes, hanging gloves etc)
  • Whistle

SHOES
  • Hiking boots x 1 (most important piece of kit, make sure that they are well worn in)
  • Crocs x 1 (for the evening)
  • TIP: I took down slippers and flip flops which were both useless as my down slippers did not have sufficient protection on the sole for walking around in the evening and flip flops were not sturdy enough for the un-even terrain

SLEEPWEAR / EVENING WEAR
  • Hoodie
  • Jogging bottoms (fleece lined)
  • T-shirt
  • Warm socks (cannot emphasise this enough as I got frost bite)

OTHER ITEMS
  • Sleeping bag (4 seasons is enough, I took a 5 seasons and was very hot). (TIP: Buy a sleeping bag compression sack. My sleeping bag took up 1/2 of my duffle bag. A sleeping bag compression sack will reduce this to 1/4 at a minimum)
  • Sleeping bag liner (for added warmth as this increases the season by 1 / for hygiene)
  • Travel pillow (definitely recommend this)
  • Light weight insulated mattress (Exped SynMat 7) is a self pump mattress
  • Head torch (Petzl) + batteries (I am glad I took this as opposed to a hand held torch. Useful for night-time toilet trips (due to Diamox) or lack of electricity in villages)
  • 90L duffle bag (TIP: buy a slighter bigger duffle bag but do not fill it to the max when departing. I battled with my duffle on a daily basis due to lack of space, especially with the sleeping bag)
  • Day pack. DO NOT get a 20-30L backpack. This was my biggest mistake buying The North Face Angstrom 28L pack. It did not have sufficient support, enough pockets nor a sufficient ventilation system. Invest in a good day pack, for example, the Osprey day packs and make sure you go to the store to have this expertly fitted
  • Trekking towel (I hardly used mine but when it is freezing outside, the last thing you want to do is have a cold bucket shower)
  • Water proof stuff sacks (and lots of them). Very good for organisation and keeping your kit dry
  • Gaiters up to knees - it gets very wet and muddy

FOOD
  • High energy bars
  • Dried fruit
  • Berocca / Robinsons (water can get very boring)
  • Electrolyte tablets
  • Chocolate

MEDICAL/CHEMICALS
  • Diamox. Help prevent symptoms of Accute Mountain Sickness (AMS) such as headaches or dizziness
  • Pain killers (Ibuprofen - for the altitude related headaches)
  • Imodium
  • Piriton
  • Blister pads / second skins (my trekking boots and socks were very good so I did not need these)
  • Plasters
  • Anti-sepctic spray / wipes
  • Hand sanitiser (and lots of it)
  • Toilet paper
  • Tissues
  • Baby wipes (an alternative to those cold bucket showers)
  • 50 SPF suncream (UV increases with altitude and the sun reflects off the snow)
  • 30 SPF lipbalm
  • Vaseline
  • After sun / moisturiser
  • Biodegradable travel wash (for washing socks and underwear on the way)
  • TIP: Do not take anything pressurised e.g. spray deodorant, as this will explode due to pressure. Also take screw lid toothpaste rather than flip toothpaste as the pressure causes the lid to flip


TOP TIPS:
  • Invest in merino wool. Why? Find out more here
  • Purchase quick drying products 
  • Gone are the days of wearing big, bulky items - layers are the way forward
  • No need for sterilising/neutralising tablets if boiling water (remember you need to boil water for longer periods of time at altitude)
  • Use the "Ranger Roll" when packing

IF I DID IT AGAIN, WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENTLY?

  1. Invest in a good day pack with sufficient space, support and ventilation
  2. Take a good DSLR camera and not a compact camera
  3. Take a solar charger kit. Charging in teahouses is busy, expensive and slow. Buy a solar charger kit, strap it to your day pack and charge all night

Monday, 19 January 2015

CAN I EAT THERE? EATING OUT SHOULDN'T BE RUSSIAN ROULETTE


Yet for the 7-million-plus UK adults and children with diagnosed food allergies and intolerances, it is. I should know – my three-year-old son Gabriel has nine (yes, nine) severe food allergies. We go everywhere with 2 EpiPens, a bottle of Piriton and, when visiting restaurants, a lot of anxiety.

Over the last couple of years we’ve experienced it all – from really helpful restaurants that can’t do enough to cater for Gabe’s allergies to those who consider us a pain in the neck and would quite frankly rather we found somewhere else to eat. Now.

The only thing they’ve all had in common is that I’ve had no way of knowing which restaurants we could eat at until we got there. Yes, you can phone ahead – but that depends on who picks up the phone and how busy or knowledgeable they are. Or you can sometimes find an allergy menu online, but it’s complicated or out of date. And there are some websites and apps trying to provide a service, but none of them have menus, which means I can’t be sure what I can eat, or whether I’ll have a choice, or whether there’s a dish that caters for more than one allergy…

And so, in desperation, I’ve created Can I Eat There? – an online directory of UK restaurants launching in March this year. You can search for restaurants by location, cuisine or allergy; view menus and filter them by allergy to see exactly what you can eat; and read reviews from other people with food allergies who’ve eaten there. You can also leave your own reviews, save your allergy preferences so that you only see restaurants where you can eat, join discussions on our forums, have your questions answered by our medical experts – and much more. Can’t wait? Neither can we!

Of course, it’s not just me – the Can I Eat There? team includes:
-       Christina – coeliac and gluten-free food supplier, passionate campaigner for better gluten-free choices in restaurants, and EpiPen-wielding mother to a teenage daughter with a peanut allergy.
-       Scott – a restaurant consultant, who knows the ins and outs of what restaurants can and can’t do. This is important to us; we need to understand the challenges of food allergy from the restaurant side, and work with them to improve their service to us.
-       Taz – allergic to apples and bad design. She’s the design talent behind Can I Eat There.
-       Ali – the best marketing director in town. No allergies yet, but we’re keeping an eye on her as lots of adults develop allergies in their 40s, and she’s only 6 years off…
    And last but definitely not least, our amazing Allergy Ambassadors – spread across the UK, tasked with encouraging restaurants to sign up and organising support groups in their local areas. If you’d like to be an Ambassador, please get in touch.
-       Plus a wider team of techie superstars, PR gurus, and medical experts and organisations.

We’re all hard at work getting Can I Eat There? ready for launch, but we’re on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram already if anyone wants to talk to us or suggest a restaurant.

Here’s to a safe and healthy 2015 where we all know the answer to “Can I Eat There?” – and can eat out safely and confidently!

Nicky Granger
Can I Eat There?


Sunday, 11 January 2015

"BITEAPPY" - A WORLDWIDE RESTAURANT SEARCH FOR PEOPLE WITH FOOD ALLERGIES, INTOLERANCES AND SPECIAL DIETS



Have you checked out ‘biteappy’? It is a worldwide restaurant search for people with food allergies, intolerances and special diets. Caroline, Founder of ‘biteappy’, has suffered with coeliacs and a lactose intolerance for over 10 years hence her inspiration and passion for ‘biteappy’. It aims to not only help consumers find somewhere to eat whether you are an allergy sufferer, have a special diet or intolerance, but also aims to make restaurant owners more aware of the significance of labelling their menus with the top 14 allergens to make it a safer place for everyone to dine in, enjoy and as their slogan says you can always ‘bite happy with biteappy’.

Free to download from the App Store or Google Play or visit their website www.biteappy.com and start spreading the awareness together.


Twitter: @biteappy
Instagram: Officialbiteappy
Facebook: biteappy
Google+: biteappy
LinkedIn: biteappy

Guest Blog: Caroline, Founder of 'biteappy' (Author)

#WE DID IT!


As many of you already know, I suffer from a severe allergy to nuts which is life-threatening (see my story here: justgiving.com/SmithChristina). The Anaphylaxis Campaign has supported me, and many others, by helping those at risk from severe allergic reactions. 

Living with an allergy is a daily challenge. My major threat is the world, and the lack of understanding regarding how severe an allergy is. An allergy does not always mean that the sufferer will be ill and they will "get over it" after a lapse in time, an allergy is life-threatening. Think of it this way, living with an allergy is like "Russian Roulette" with food and drink. Every time I sit down to a meal, eat a snack or have a drink, I could die due to the presence of nuts.

My tipping point on deciding to embark on an expedition to Mt Everest Base Camp raising funds for the Anaphylaxis Campaign (see "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" on itsnutfair.com/blog.html) was the headline news of four-year-old Fae Platten who stopped breathing on a flight home after a passenger ignored three warnings not to eat nuts on board (first reported dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2724684/Nut-allergy-girl-went-anaphylactic-shock-plane-passenger-ignored-three-warnings-not-eat-nuts-board.html). Is eating a bag of nuts on a plane really worth someone's life? I personally would never tell someone what they can or can't eat but think of it this way, if it were a deadly poison, you would do everything you could in your power to avoid the life-threatening consequences. An allergy is no different.

My aim is to raise awareness of the severity of allergies. When I set my target of £1,000 in August 2014, I thought to myself "aim high - whatever you raise will help the allergy community in some way and you will be raising awareness of the severity of allergies along the way".  Today, at 16:38 (GMT) I reached my target of £1,000 for the Anaphylaxis Campaign. This money will go directly to the Anaphylaxis Campaign. With three months to go until I leave for Mt Everest Base Camp, I hope to continue raising money for the Anaphylaxis Campaign and raising awareness of the severity of allergies. This is just the beginning....

I would like to thank everyone who has supported my story and trip so far. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of people and the support across the world. A special thank-you goes to my corporate sponsors:


  • Allergy LifeStyle (allergylifestyle.com)
  • No Nuts Moms Group (nonutsmomsgroup.weebly.com)
  • Biteappy (biteappy.com)
  • Can I Eat There? (canieatthere.co.uk)
  • Rescue Shot Case (rescueshotcase.com)
  • Centric UK - First Aid Training (centricuk.com)

Finally, a heart-warming thank-you goes to the Anaphylaxis Campaign (anaphylaxis.org.uk)


Christina (It's Nut Fair)
J: justgiving.com/smithchristina
W: itsnutfair.com
T: @ItsNutFairUK


UPDATED:



Tuesday, 30 December 2014

THREE FESTIVE TIPS FOR ALLERGY SUFFERERS





Christmas and New Year’s is the time of year to indulge in food, wine, beer and parties. But remember these top tips around Christmas and the New Year, they could just save your life…

1. FOOD

AVOID CROSS-CONTAMINATION. This is especially true on Christmas Day when all those lovely dishes are sitting in their pots on the table or when you attend a buffet on Boxing Day. Ensure that there is one spoon for each dish and once you have put your cauliflower sauce onto your plate you do not use the same spoon for the cranberry sauce. Avoid dipping your celery stick in the taramasalata and then into the hummus.

2. ALCOHOL

Christmas and New Year is a time to celebrate. However, drinking alcohol can affect our thought process and the decisions we make. It can also reduce our immune system causing allergy sufferers to become more susceptible to allergic reactions. It is crucial for allergy sufferers to stay alert and ensure that the food and drink (see blog: "Drink Aware? Nut Allergies Beware") we consume does not contain allergens.

3. EPI PEN

Keep your medication handy. There are lots of gatherings and Christmas parties at this time of the year. Unfortunately, this increases the likelihood of allergic reactions. DO NOT leave your epi-pen at home and make sure that a minimum of one other person knows what to do if you have an allergic reaction.



Stay safe – have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

DRINK AWARE? NUT ALLERGIES BEWARE!



Disclaimer: 18 and over.




When people think nut allergy, they tend to associate it with food. However, navigating nut allergies and alcohol is a bit of a minefield. Your bartender is unlikely to know how your gin was distilled, or whether your beverage was brewed in a factory also brewing nut-based drinks.

I have compiled a non-exhaustive list (as of October 2014) comprising brands whose beverages contain nuts.

Although the “Guidance on Allergen Management and Consumer Information” states:

"Nuts used in distillates for spirits, and nuts (almonds and walnuts) used (as flavours) in spirits are unlikely to trigger allergic reactions"[1]

caution must be exercised. Please remember that the consumption of alcohol causes your system to become more susceptible to allergic reactions and can cause more severe reactions. Also be wary of mixers and cross-contamination. Ask the bartender to use a new mixing container/shaker. Even if it is just rinsed out, residue remains.


THE LIST


Champagne
  • Moet Imperial (tasting notes fresh nuts) 

Liquor
  • Amaretto (almond) 
  • Baileys Hazelnut Flavour (hazelnut) 
  • Harveys Amontillado (nutty flavours)[2]
  • Harveys Fino (almond)[3]
  • Harveys Fine Old Amontillado VORS (hazelnut)[4]

Cognac & Brandy
  • Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge (hazelnut)[5]
  • Grand Marnier Cherry Marnier (almond)[6]

Whiskey
  • Southern Comfort (tree nuts) 

Gin
  • Beefeater (almond) 
  • Bombay Sapphire (almond)[7]
  • Pimm’s No.1 (gin based) 

Rum
  • Bacardi Gold (almond)[8]
  • Bacardi Superior (almond)[9]

Please feel free to submit additions here.


Don't forget I am trekking to Mt Everest Base Camp to raise money, support and awareness for the Anaphylaxis Campaign. Please donate here.




[1] Appendix 1 Allergen Prevalence and Severity in Guidance on Allergen Management and Consumer Information www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/maycontainguide.pdf
[2] www.harveyshalfhour.co.uk/harveys-sherry
[3] www.harveyshalfhour.co.uk/harveys-sherry
[4] www.harveyshalfhour.co.uk/harveys-sherry
[5] www.en.grand-marnier.com/product/grand-marnier-liqueurs/grand-marnier-cordon-rouge/8
[6] www.en.grand-marnier.com/product/grand-marnier-liqueurs/cherry-marnier/18
[7] www.bombaysapphire.com/en-GB/ourgin.aspx?aspxautodetectcookiesupport=1
[8] www.bacardi.com/uk/products/our-rums/?product=gold
[9] www.bacardi.com/uk/products/our-rums/?product=superior