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A New Start for Me – with Gluten Free by the Sea

28 Sep

Hello everyone! Firstly, I would like to thank Kevin for inviting me to join him at Gluten Free by the Sea. It is an amazing opportunity for me to work alongside someone with such a great following, and who is also a great inspiration for many Coeliacs, particularly in the South West.

Here in the South West, you must forgive me for my bluntness, but – we are rather slow at catching on to many things. However, I feel that the seriousness of Coeliac Disease has been one thing that not only the South West lack knowledge about, but it is in fact a National issue that is now gradually being brought into the Lime Light. (Finally!)

Kevin and I are aiming to collaborate our passions about helping others, and also a big one for the both of us – food! We will aim to update you on a regular basis about anything that we feel will be beneficial to you as a Coeliac, and also encourage you to reach a positive understanding of the Disease itself.

But before I go any further, and bore you with the importance of education around Coeliac Disease and any other dietary needs – please let me introduce myself.

My name is Emma Oxland, I am 28 years of age. I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease 8 years ago whilst studying for my degree at University.

I have been part of the Coeliac community in Plymouth for a couple of years now, and I was very fortunate to be introduced to Kevin, along with many other fellow Coeliacs, when I opened The Galley Gluten Free Restaurant back in October 2014. I will be forever grateful for meeting so many supportive, lovely and inspiring people.

Exciting first day at The Galley

Exciting first day at The Galley

I must admit, before opening The Galley, I had no idea of the amount of local people, let alone any other visitors, that were following a Gluten Free diet. (In fact, I didn’t know any one apart from me!) Many of which had been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. However, I was also surprised to meet a great number of customers who had actually self diagnosed themselves.

On the one hand, this made me very angry and upset, that because of the lack of knowledge about this Disease, these poor people had to work everything out by themselves. There was clearly a lack of support from our NHS, and a huge lack of empathy shown towards them by any doctors; they knew they were suffering, but no one officially acknowledged this.

On the other hand, I was relieved and grateful that these people now had somewhere to go out and enjoy food and a chat about their struggles, without being patronised or scrutinised about their need for a particular dietary requirement.

The Galley's Famous gluten free Profiterole

The Galley’s Famous gluten free Profiterole

It was of great satisfaction to me to be able to provide our customers with freshly cooked, gluten free food that could be enjoyed by anyone. The main thing for me was that families and friends could go out for a meal and not worry that they would be contaminated or be ill. I am very passionate about EVERYONE being able to enjoy their dining out experience, and feel comfortable with the service, and most of all the food. I will always be so proud of what The Galley achieved, and how it genuinely helped so many people!

Unfortunately, due to health reasons, which I will explain at a later date, I had to leave The Galley in January this year. After my departure The Galley struggled and eventually had to close a few months ago. I am sad to say this has happened, but also have faith that it will happen again, and also with the support of the Coeliac community, will be a great success!

Right, so there you have it – that is how I came to be so passionate about making a difference, because I realised it was possible.

This is why I am so grateful to Kevin; as I am sure that through my general waffling on, and Kevin’s friendly, educational writing, that some people may be inspired by our passion to help others.

I know we are both also hoping that you will find some consolation in the knowledge that we are all in a very similar situation – you are not alone – and we are here to encourage and support you in your situation, and hopefully make eating out, and understanding your condition a lot easier.

Kevin and I celebrating our collaboration

Kevin and I celebrating our collaboration

Both myself and Kevin (as you know) are very friendly, approachable people. So if any of you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to help.

Emma, Gluten Free by the Sea


Well hello again my friends!

27 Sep

It’s been a while hasn’t it?!  I’m a little ashamed to say it’s been a year since my last blog post.  After such a big life change with the redundancy from my previous job, and settling into my “new” job, I must admit my focus has been elsewhere this past year.  I’ve tried to keep posting on Facebook and Twitter with snippets as I get them, but it’s been far too long since I’ve sat down to write a proper blog post.

I must admit I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty about that, going quiet at the same time the Coeliac UK Plymouth Group was forced to close down has not sat too easily with me.  However, the job has settled down now and I’ve been thinking it’s time to get my act together.  I have been pondering for some time about maybe asking for some help with the site.  The blog has a good following on social media, which still makes me both proud and surprised, and I feel I’ve been wasting that as there really isn’t much information around for Plymouth.

I’m delighted to announce that after recent negotiations over a massive gluten free burger and some (yes possibly too many) drinks that the lovely Emma Oxland has agreed to come on board and help me with Gluten Free by the Sea.  I’m really excited by this, and I hope between the two of us we can come up with plenty of content to get the site flourishing again.  Many of you will know Emma from her time running The Galley, which very sadly is no longer with us.  I’m hopeful we’ll encourage and inspire each other to write, so thanks in advance Emma and here’s to an exciting future for Gluten Free by the Sea.

Emma and a giant burger at old favourite JDs Grill

Emma and a giant burger at old favourite JDs Grill

Things have changed a lot since I last posted.  As previously mentioned, The Coeliac UK Plymouth Group was forced to close due to lack of volunteers on the committee.  It was personally very sad to see this close when I’d been so closely involved for the last few years, but I think sadly it was inevitable.  I made some great friends along the way am left with many fond memories.  We then lost The Galley and also another restaurant serving gluten free in Holland’s Diner.

Emma and I celebrate catching up and her joining the Gluten Free by the Sea team. We may have enjoyed a drink or 10 by this point. Drink responsibly and all that hey!

Emma and I celebrate catching up and her joining the Gluten Free by the Sea team. We may have enjoyed a drink or 10 by this point. Drink responsibly and all that hey!

On a more positive note, I’ve enjoyed some great gluten free meals out in the past year.  New venues to me have included Quay 33, Barbican Kitchen, The Greedy Goose, Chloe’s, The Dock and Rocksalt Cafe.  I am sure I’ll be reviewing some of these fully in due course, but it’s safe to say I’ve enjoyed some excellent food at all of these venues.  I think eating out is certainly getting easier, and I find most of the local independent restaurants who cook everything fresh are generally very accommodating.  The Ladybird Bakery have also opened a gluten free cafe in Frankfurt Gate, so do stop by and pay them a visit of you haven’t already.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

2014 – A Gluten Free Year

21 Dec

So as 2014 comes to a close it’s time to look back on what the year has brought for me personally and of course the gluten free scene in general.  Well let me get the personal stuff out the way first.  To be honest it’s been a rubbish year and I’m more than happy to see the back of it.  We recently went through a period where Abby lost a close friend, I found out I was being made redundant and then we lost our beloved cat Azreal.  A tough time to say the least and I must admit I’ve struggled to find the time/enthusiasm to blog much recently as a result.  Here’s hoping life and Gluten Free by the Sea are back on track in 2015!


2014-01-18 12.24.51On to the more relevant stuff with a look at the gluten free scene in Plymouth this year.  The year started with a bang as Clare’s Gluten Free Cafe opened as the first completely gluten free eatery in Plymouth.  It was so great to have somewhere that was completely gluten free and not to have to worry about cross contamination at all, only what to eat!  I was a regular there for lunch and the IT department at work grew very fond of the weekly cake run.  Sadly the cafe didn’t make the end of the year which was a huge blow but a big thanks to Clare for all the delicious goodies whilst it lasted.

emma_markOn to more positive news and thankfully Plymouth has an all new completely gluten free restaurant that has recently opened, The Galley.  Based in The Maritime Inn on The Barbican serving freshly cooked, reasonably priced pub grub it’s been great to have another safe haven.  Emma and Mark are doing a great job and I’m already a regular, and I’m looking forward to many more visits in the new year.

We’ve had to say goodbye to a few other Gluten Free by the Sea favourites this year too unfortunately.  Traditional Puddings and Love Free From have ceased trading and Eggbuckland Fish and Chip shop changed owners and stopped their gluten free nights.  The good news though is we’ve got to say hello to The Ladybird Bakery, Holland’s Diner, Soupy Do and gluten free days at the excellent Kingfisher Fish and Chip Shop.

Burger from Holland's Diner

Burger from Holland’s Diner

JD's Grill gluten free hoagieI couldn’t do a review of the year without mentioning the JD’s Grill hoagie!  Being five minutes away from the office I have indulged in (probably too) many of these delicious six inch subs filled with amazingly cooked pulled pork or pulled brisket.  Great value and an excellent gluten free lunch option in the city centre.  JD’s continues to go from strength to strength and not only have their GF offerings improved over the course of the year, I think they’ve continued to push the quality of their food.  They are becoming increasingly popular which is well deserved.

JD’s hosted a successful GF night for the Coeliac UK Plymouth Group early in the year, and it has been a busy year for the group.  In addition to the meal out we have managed to put on a couple of food fairs at the Elm Centre, a new members meeting and a fun day at Mount Edgcumbe.  Thanks to everyone who has contributed to those events and I hope that you have enjoyed them if you’ve come along as a visitor.  Next year is an important one for the group, by the time we host the AGM in March we will need to find a new Group Organiser and Treasurer in order to keep the group going.  If you are interested in one of these rolls or a lesser role on the committee please do get in touch.

On a wider note 2014 has been notable for the introduction of the new allergen laws recently.  I’ve yet to really investigate how restaurants are coping with the changes, but for the most part the labelling on packaged products seems to be working fairly well.  A thank-you here to Alex Gazzola for his tireless work trying to help us all fully understand the changes during the year.  There are clearly still some grey areas that have been highlighted and I think it will take a little bit of time to see how well the changes are working.

In terms of wider availability of GF foods this year it has been good to see Costa finally launch a savoury option.  I try and support local when I can but it’s always good to see another on the go option.  Frankie and Benny’s have also added a GF menu this year and Marks & Spencer have continued their impressive work expanding their free-from range.  Pret have also added a “gluten free” wrap, though there are still many questions to be answered as to whether that option is safe for coeliacs.

Finally let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!  I hope that 2014 has been kind to you and that 2015 will be an even better one for us all.  A huge thank-you to everyone who has supported me throughout the year, whether that be by reading the blog, help and conversation on social media or supporting our events.  You are all amazing!

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea

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