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Wow, 2014, you’ve been a pretty epic year. I can’t believe it’s coming to a close already – but I always like looking back over what I’ve achieved in the last 12 months. I’ve taken on an extra magazine in my day job, completely overhauled my eating and exercise habits, and helped PT Steve to launch his business.

2015 is going to be an exciting year. I’m off to Uganda in a few weeks, and looking forward to (hopefully) booking a holiday for later on in the year. I don’t want to join the tribe of ‘I’m going to get fit in 2015’ resolutioners, but I’m hoping now Christmas is over I can get back those good habits I built up pre-mince pie season!

It’s been a mental year – hardly any time to sit down and blog – but let’s take a look at some of my highlights from 2014…

Barnstaple Real Food Market

IMG_3445The launch of Barnstaple Real Food Market is definitely one of my best 2014 highlights.

The amazing monthly market in Barnstaple Pannier Market gave me a chance to meet so many amazing North Devon producers, who are all so friendly and offer delicious gluten free food!

These people have been so good to me – Glampig, John’s of Instow, Jakes BakesThe Green Brownie, Boom Kitchen and Quiet Waters Farm to name a few – and have gone above and beyond to cater for their gluten free customers.

I always look forward to the monthly market now – if you’re in North Devon you have to visit, and if not, plan a trip here just for this reason alone!

Discovering gluten free London

My delightful little picnic!
My delightful little picnic!

When PT Steve had to go to London for a work-related course, I decided to go with him and plan an epic gluten free foodie weekend in the capital city.

I researched everywhere I wanted to go, and spent my days with a tube pass becoming well acquainted with some favourites!

Honest Burgers was one highlights, as was Cookies and Scream in Camden.

There were so many amazing discoveries – I’m planning a trip to squeeze the rest in next year!

My first gluten free fish and chips

Yes, that's right, it's ALL gluten free!
Yes, that’s right, it’s ALL gluten free!

I was so excited when I discovered there was a new fish and chip shop opening in Barnstaple called Starfish, who were offering gluten free fish and chips on a Tuesday.

I first tried their gluten free offerings in January, but later in the year I heard the business had changed ownership and – good news – they were now offering gluten free every day!

I went back to try them again and was really impressed. A great local find!

I’ve found so many amazing other gluten free places in North Devon this year, including Lilico’s in Barnstaple, Tea on the Green in Westward Ho! and Riverbank in Bideford.

I just feel so blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world, which also caters so well for my diet. Brilliant.

 Gluten free awards dos – two of them!

The  dream team at one of our awards ceremonies!
The dream team at one of our awards ceremonies!

I was absolutely honoured and over the moon to go to not one but two awards ceremonies this year – one where our paper was nominated for the best free weekly newspaper, and the other where I was nominated as employee of the year in our company.

This fun experience saw me travel to both London and Bristol in the space of a fortnight, and enjoy some pretty scrummy food too (despite being given fruit salad on both occasions while everyone else scoffed chocolate desserts!)

It was a fantastic experience – next time the ‘dream team’ has got to win!


Taking up yoga

Using yoga and weight training to improve my health.
Using yoga and weight training to improve my health.

Yoga has become a big part of my life this year. I always dabbled in a bit of body balance but this year I took up a weekly yoga class and have found it has changed my life for the better.

I feel a lot more in tune with my body. My flexibility has improved, and, coupled with the improvements in my diet – all thanks to PT Steve – and regular weight training, I feel the best I have ever felt.

I think regular exercise has also helped me to control my thyroid issues. My mission for 2015 is to now join an intermediate yoga class – I will master those handstands and arm balances!!


Enjoying my first gluten free festival at Somersault

10534529_10152621908462813_2532610955436464180_nSomersault Festival was one of the most amazing experienced this year! Amazingly, I managed to blag a free stay in a tipi – complete luxury – and a long table feast in the Jamie Oliver pop up.

Seeing Jack Johnson live was on my bucket list and I spent the whole seven months leading up to the festival in a ridiculous state of excitement.

But I wasn’t prepared for how amazing the gluten free food offerings would be! From brownies and chilli to incredible pulled pork, it was an epic experience – bring on Somersault 2015!

 PT Steve’s photo shoot and the launch of Reform

10014578_10152829647487813_7431828740649626950_nIt’s not something I have blogged about, but I think it’s worth a mention as it’s been a huge part of 2014 for me and Steve.

At the risk of sounding like a gushing girlfriend, I am so proud of what Steve has achieved this year – launching his own business, Reform Training Nutrition Health, and at the same time undergoing a strict regime to lean down for a photo shoot.

It’s taken blood, sweat and tears (from both of us!) but it’s been a pretty awesome journey and Steve has shown me exactly what you can do with dedication and commitment. I am just so proud! Perhaps I should set myself a photo shoot goal for 2015….?


A gluten free night away in Bristol

Enjoying the pool all to ourselves!
Enjoying the pool all to ourselves!

We only managed a short holiday this year, but the night in the airport hotel topped the whole occasion!

Redhill Hotel near Bristol was beautiful – and with hardly any other guests it was like we had our own private pool and jacuzzi!

The views were stunning and their knowledge of gluten free was incredible. They conjured up off-the-menu dishes for me and gave me gluten free bread and cereal in the morning too.

It was the perfect start to the holiday – I just hope I can stay there again before my holiday next year!

 What’s next for 2015?

It’s been an epic year – these highlights were really hard to choose – so now I’m looking forward to some new goals!

1) I’m DEFINITELY going to make it to the Allergy & Free From Show in London. I’ve missed it every year and I really want to go! I’m also hoping to attend the BBC Good Food Eat Well Show (buy your tickets with 30 per cent off for blog readers here, quoting EW30S until December 31).

2) I want to pick a new fitness challenge to work towards. I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet – photo shoot, endurance race, or something completely different – but it’s got to be GOOD.

3) With my Uganda trip booked for next month, I’m looking forward to a holiday later in the year. I’m hoping to discover a gluten free gem or two along the way, so please send me any suggestions!

But for now, thank you 2014 for all the memories – bring on a whole new year!



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About Sarah Howells

Hi, I'm Sarah! Diagnosed with coeliac disease 20 years ago, I'm on a mission to create the best gluten free recipes since sliced bread. No fruit salads or dry brownies here.

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  1. Hey mate, thanks for all that, having discovered your blog in this last year and tried some of your recommendations its been great to read what you’ve been up to. I’d second what you said about Barnstaple real Food market and also Highlight one other food stall that deal with Gluten and Milk intolerance. Calaca Loca is a brilliant food truck serving authentic Mexican and South American food. Also a second thumbs up for Jakes Bakes, who again have dealt with my need for gluten and milk free. Since I use goat as an alternative they once made me cakes with goat butter – result.

    1. Hi Jack, glad you have found my blog of use and I hope I can continue to be helpful through 2015 too! Barnstaple Real Food market is definitely one of the best things to come out of the area for sure -for both coeliac and non!! Jakes Bakes definitely are amazing. I shall put Calaca Loca on my list to try this month as their stand always smells sooo good 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation and happy new year! x

  2. What a great year it’s been and what a great post this is! It reminds me of how much has happened in 2014 and even as a non ceoliac I have read every one of your blog posts! I can’t wait to follow your adventures in 2015.

    Proud of you as always, your dearest friend Lauren x x

    1. Thanks Katie – it really has been a great year! Here’s to this year being more epic! x

  3. Sounds like a good year! If you’re in Exeter I’d recommend gluten free afternoon tea at Magdalen Chapter, I went in November and it was superb, very generous portions and every bit delicious.