Following my coeliac disease diagnosis, one of the things I’d been really looking forward to was attending The Allergy & Free From Show at Olympia, London. Although it would provide an opportunity to meet up with some fellow bloggers, I really wanted to see what types of gluten free products were available that I hadn’t already come across, as well as buying more of those I had!
So, last weekend my boyfriend and I drove to just outside London and attempted to get the tube in to the city. However, we hadn’t checked the status of the tube lines and ended up only being able to go a few stops before having to get the bus in to Hammersmith. Fortunately this wasn’t as bad as it could have been as we were able to walk the rest of the way to Olympia, but it did mean we were running late to meet the other gluten free bloggers.
On arrival at the venue I got very excited at the sight of all of the stands and was presented with a goody bag from the show bag partner Udi’s and I also picked up a lovely glossy programme, which I must admit I didn’t actually look at until I’d left!
I made my way to the café meeting area to see if the bloggers were still there and I must admit that I suddenly became very nervous and didn’t feel comfortable waltzing over and interrupting their conversations, so I didn’t. I’m really sorry guys :(.
Instead I started to make my way around the stands, on the assumption that I’d probably see the guys again a bit later on. There were a few stands that I particularly wanted to visit and the first one was Glamour Puds. I tried some of their Raspberry Chiffon Pie and it was amazing, so I was delighted when they very kindly game me some of their puddings to try, however one didn’t make it home unscathed having exploded in my bag (it had to be my favourite didn’t it?!), but the other two survived and will be reviewed in the next few weeks.
Next up was Knead Bakery and the lovely Sim. It was nice to finally meet one of the people I’d spoken to quite a lot through social media and to put a face to the name. I was able to sample some of Knead’s products for the first time at the show and I was able to purchase a selection of treats. The stand certainly seemed quite busy and their chocolate brownies were going down a storm, but I was starting to notice how busy it was getting, so thought it best to move on to another stand.
Having been looking on Twitter in the car on the way to London, I was aware that some of the stands were offering prizes for the first 5 people to say the phrase of the day and Amy’s Kitchen was no exception. I assumed that arriving over an hour after the door’s opened would mean that I didn’t stand a chance of winning one of these prizes, but off I went to Amy’s Kitchen and informed them that ‘Amy’s are the best’! To mine, and their, delight I was pleased to be the second person to have said the phrase and I won a prize – a lovely hessian bag with some money off vouchers. Thank you Amy’s Kitchen!
There was only one place I could head to next, one of my favourite brands, PERK!ER! I really wanted to meet Ann and Steve, having had lots of contact with them since starting my blog. I did try winning one of their prizes, but when I got home I discovered some other bloggers got there first…… 😉 I started speaking to Ann about PERK!ER’s amazing Popping Tiffin, not realising that fellow blogger and tiffin fan Kim (Coeliac.me.uk) was standing next to me! It was great to finally meet my first fellow blogger and we stood chatting with Ann for a while before I suggested we head over to the café to see if the others were still there, knowing that we’d back for some tiffin later in the day!
We headed back to the café, but unfortunately the others had moved on, so Kim very kindly stayed with me for the rest of our time at the show and we wandered around the stands together. I should point out that by this stage my boyfriend was getting a little bit bored, so he made his way to Pizza Express for a coffee, with any bags I already had! It was great to have some company from a fellow coeliac as when we were walking around we were both looking out for the same things, which I can appreciate wouldn’t have been as enjoyable for my boyfriend.
There were lots of products that I wanted to try, but due to the temperature that day combined with a long car journey home, there were some products that didn’t seem suitable for travel. Still on my to try list are products from Pudology, Kirsty’s and Clive’s Pies amongst others!
Having previously reviewed items from Newburn Bakehouse and BFree I couldn’t resist having a look at their stands. Newburn had some great offers, so I bought a pack of their Morning Muffins which I just adore. Having reviewed BFree just a day earlier, I wasn’t really in need of any more wraps on the day, but they very kindly gave me one of their bags as I thought they were ace. Kim and I were also treated to a slice of one of their freshly made wraps which tasted yummy!
By now I was starting to get a little weighed down again, as I also had a goody bag from Glutafin with a huge selection of goodies in it. Cue back drop off to the boyfriend :).
Once my hands were free, I was off for more and this time I bought some fresh pasta courtesy of Dell’ Ugo which I am really looking forward to trying, as well as some pizza bases from Venice Bakery UK. I’d heard a lot about Venice Bakery UK beforehand and on trying their pizza at the show, I couldn’t resist getting some bases to try to recreate their pizzas and garlic bread for myself.
It was now getting very hot in the hall, so Kim went and got us a sample of dairy free strawberry coconut milk from Koko and it was so nice we both went back and bought some cartons in both the strawberry and chocolate flavours! This was swiftly followed up with some goodies from Orgran. We’d both commented that we loved their chocolate animal biscuits, so I couldn’t resist buying something else from the brand and this time opted for some Choc Pockets, which look lovely.
By this point I must admit that I was starting to flag a little, so we returned to PERK!ER to buy some goodies (in my case tiffin, brownies and porridge) before going our separate ways, and I needed to try to locate my other half! I managed to find him quite quickly and had a short rest before my friend from Bristol, who’s now living in London, arrived at the show! She’d got her free ticket for the show through my blog :).
I quickly gave Amy a tour of the stands and bought Rich some bars from Nakd Wholefoods that he really wanted, before we returned to Pizza Express for a catch up and a rest (by this point my feet were blistering). It was now 3pm and apart from nibbling on some freebies, I hadn’t actually had lunch so was a feeling a bit ill, so on the way out of the show, after leaving Amy to fend for herself(!), I went to Freedom Deli, as I’d always wanted to try one of their paninis so thought this would be a good opportunity. Fortunately they already had some ham and cheese ones being heated up so I didn’t have to wait long. It was amazing and much needed, but as it was a bit rushed, I’ll wait to buy some more before doing a proper review of the product, but I can safely say it was definitely a great way to conclude the show!
The photo below shows quite how much I came away from the show with! Product reviews will be posted in the next few weeks, once I’ve got round to eating it all 🙂
You will note from the above review, that I have focused on the stands I visited and the products I tried, but one thing I haven’t yet mentioned is quite how busy the show was. Even when I arrived at the show just after 11am it was really busy, but this only got worse as the time went on, and having spent more than 4 hours at the show, I couldn’t have handled any more.
The aisles were very narrow, so if you have a queue of even just two people deep looking at a stand, that left no room for people to pass through the middle of the aisle. This certainly seemed to aggravate a lot of people, and in some cases where people had pushchairs, there was literally no where for them to go. This was a big negative for me, as more space would have made the show a much more pleasant experience. I may have also felt that I could stay at a stand for longer than I did and to talk to the exhibitors properly, without feeling that I needed to move on for fear of being barged out of the way.
This aside, I really enjoyed the show and am already looking forward to next year. There is another show taking place this year though, so if you’re able to make it to the North West, The Allergy & Free From Show North will be taking place at the BT Convention Centre, Liverpool on the 26th – 27th October (free tickets for this event can be claimed by clicking on this link).
Next year’s London show will be taking place from the 20th – 22nd June at Olympia and free tickets for this show can also be claimed using the link above. I look forward to seeing you there!!
For more information and to see who will be exhibiting, visit The Allergy and Free From Show website (www.allergyshow.co.uk) and don’t forget to follow them on Twitter (@AllergyShow).
If you went to the show yourself and have any comments you’d like to add, please post them below :).