Yesterday (30th March 2012) was a more interesting day than usual for me in my experience as a Coeliac who regularly eats out, but who is really poor at planning or checking ahead about what could be available. This often leads to poor experiences, but today I had the best motorway service station experience I have ever had since being diagnosed courtesy of Starbucks at the southbound Warwick services on the M40. As usual I arrived at lunchtime taking pot luck. Much to my surprise my hopefulness was finally rewarded with the choice of not 1 but 2 savoury gluten free items for lunch. One was a ham salad sandwich, and the second a lovely salad. I celebrated with one out of the choice of 2 gluten free cakes. My only sorrow in this is that I am not hopeful of repeating the experience every time I visit a Starbucks, but at least I can enjoy it this time.

Unfortunately my second experience at the Holiday Inn at Brentford Lock was not so good. When I asked the waiter what was gluten free on the menu as I am a Coeliac he looked confused and asked me for my room number. I gave it to him and he went off to the bar- I should have asked him why as I had not said I was coeliac when booking the room. He came back saying there was no company of that name registered to the room! My explanation had obviously not worked. I had omitted to transfer my normal fall back – an information card- to my new handbag so found the electronic one I have as an app on my I-phone. His face cleared and he took my phone to show the chef. Imagine my surprise then when my order came – a similar kebab to the one I had really ordered but which included sausages. As the experienced coeliacs among you know sausages are not usually okay for us. I have to admit to giving up at this point as I was hungry and tired so I just took the meat off the skewer and left the sausages – risky I know but I couldn’t face having another discussion with the waiter and didn’t think of asking for the duty manager. The waiter did come and ask if everything was okay and I said ‘no I have been given sausages I cannot eat’ and he smiled and walked away.

31st March 2012 update

I have tweeted my unhappiness at my treatment yesterday and been recommended to talk to the duty manager by a representative of the company, which I am about to do, but wanted to write this first.

Tonight I had a much better experience eating in the Holiday Inn at Brentford Lock following my discussion with the duty manager who checked and ordered my meal himself ( using the same I-pad information card I used last night). I hope my experience means that coeliacs using this hotel in the future get a better response than I did.

I find complaining about issues relating to my Coeliac condition quite difficult which is strange when you consider the extremes discomfort that a mistake will cause me. I found it easier to relate it through facebook, twitter and this blog. Maybe it is just too personal? I have made a promise to myself to be more proactive and this weekend is the start of that – it will be interesting to see if I keep it up. It is far better for me to follow up my writing about the issues by talking to the people concerned to help them to understand, or even talk to the, straight away if I can get myself to do so.