So this is what we were all doing in Glasgow last weekend at the Allergy Show – our morning work out! Well, all the important people are all there – Tom Treverton, the show’s director and Nicki Clowes, the FreeFrom Brand Manager for Tesco (both cheating by doing their workout sitting on the benches), Clare Marriage of Doves Farm who had organised the yoga, me (in black) and Cressida behind the camera. And what a great way to start a show! As you can see, all the Doves Farm people are really into it! Their lovely show-within-a-show area also hosts a singer for a short gig at the end of the day – last year it was the Allergy Show’s own Robbyn Snow but this year she was sadly struggling with a sore throat do we had a local, but equally lovely, singer!
But just in case you are thinking that our two days in Glasgow was all about chilling out…. No way! This was all that was left on the Nairn’s stand at about 2.30 on Sunday afternoon –
and half an hour later, things on the Koko stand were even worse!!! Or even better, depending on how you want to look at it!!
So show attendees had definitely not been chilling out! They had been shopping as hard as they could go and, as at all Allergy Shows, the aisles were heaving with keen visitors, with bulging shopping bags, anxious to talk to the many suppliers of freefrom everything. Cressida’s run-down of the new products and old favourites that she found can be found here, so I will only mention a couple of things that caught my eye.
One was our good friend David Ware of Green’s Gluten-free beers – his stand was right opposite us so would have been hard for us to miss him! However, what was very interesting, especially in view of Sue’s diary piece in January and her article on gluten-free-free beer testing which has just ‘gone live’, was that David had divided his samplings into barley based gluten-free beer and beer made from gluten-free grains such as sorghum. People were interested in trying the barley-based gf beers – but the queue to taste the ‘truly’ gluten-free beers stretched round the block!
I also discovered, to my huge surprise, that while David is very happy to sell his beers in the UK, 80% of his trade is actually done outside the UK and that he is currently exporting to 22 countries with more in the pipeline!! Is export the way to go for freefrom foods and drinks?….
The second were these lovely chocolate cards from Chocmotif. What a great new take on congratulations card!! At the moment they are nut and gluten free but they said that they were hoping to be able to offer a milk/dairy free one very soon. I’m in the queue….
My third pick was the hugely successful Tesco ‘restaurant’! This was their fab idea to ‘showcase’ their new range of chilled ready meals and desserts. As Nicky Clowes says – only getting to taste one forkful of a dish out of a little pot, immediately followed by all kinds of other weird samples, does not really give you much idea of what the dish actually tastes like. For that you need to sit down and eat the whole thing – so why not give people a chance to do just that? So, working with the Allergy Show and their suppliers they set up a little restaurant and took bookings – entirely booked up before the show even opened!
Here is Nicky chatting with some of their guests – who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. To be honest, the opportunity, in the middle of a show, to just sit down for half an hour and enjoy a decent meal in peace was probably enough to delight their guests before they even tried the dishes on offer! But the food went down pretty well too.
The super nice thing about the Glasgow Allergy Show is that it is so seriously full on while it is open that everyone is exhausted by 3pm so we can all go home at 4. This means that, if you put your mind to it, you can see some of Glasgow. Saturday was a fairly drear and grim day down on the river – although the events area with its Armadillo still looked pretty impressive – so not really one for wandering the streets.
Instead I headed for a quick visit to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum – the super-Victorian red sandstone (I think..) pile at the top of the famous Sauchiehall Street. I did not have much time but I did manage to whip around a small exhibition of the Glasgow Boys – a group of painters (looking very little like boys in their starched collars and with a fair selection of well trimmed whiskers) – working in and around Glasgow in the 1870s–1890s. There were around 20 painters involved with the group and they gained considerable international recognition for their more naturalistic, and later, symbolistic approach to painting. (There is an interesting review of an exhibition of their work held in London in 2011 here in the Guardian, if you want to know more.) My faves were this rather stunning portrait by James Guthrie and Alexander Roche‘s boats on the River Ouse.
On Sunday I fear out brows did not reach so high…….. Instead we headed for CineWorld (we saw Hidden Figures which I can thoroughly recommend for a feel good – and hopefully largely historically accurate – afternoon’s entertainment) and a large bowl of delicious mussels before climbing back on our sleeper!
And yes, I can thoroughly recommend the Euston to Glasgow sleeper. Not necessarily for a good night’s sleep (although I was told yesterday that the reason why we could not sleep was because we were over the wheels instead of in the middle of the carriage where the ride is much smoother…) but for a delightful time warp experience! I am sure the carriages do not date back to the 1950s but just feel as though they do. Not that they are uncomfortable – far from it. The bunks, sheets and duvets are sparkingly clean and very cosy and the staff (who wake you up with a cup of tea!!!) are charming. You just feel as though Hercule could mince down the corridor any minute and involve you in a blood curdling murder….