Since before Callum was born, we've been doing a huge renovation of our house.
We've added a big extension, knocked down walls, created a new kitchen, dining room and bedroom. Jonny has built it all, and he's done a truly amazing job! We are all very lucky that he has built us all such a wonderful family home! (sorry, gushy bit over!)
We moved into our new kitchen around a month ago now, and we've been looking for an island unit to complete it. Last weekend we went to pick one up, in West Wittering. We packed up the whole family, stuck the trailer on the back of the car, and headed off on a family adventure.
It was a gorgeous day, and the kids were quite excited as we didn't really tell them what we were up to, as we wanted to surprise them with a trip to the beach.
We picked up the island unit, (which is fab!) and then headed to one of the best beaches that I have seen in the UK. It was just breathtakingly beautiful! Golden sands that stretched on and on, sparkly sea, and blue skies, just perfect.
Chloe was in awe, and quickly had her shoes and socks off for a paddle in the sea.
Callum was slightly more reserved, eventually going for a paddle, but quickly exclaiming 'go way stupid sea, making mine feet wet' - it was very funny to watch him toddle off, whilst getting quite cross! He ended up having a wonderful time when he got used to it though, and was soon happily chasing Chloe, trying to kick up the water and getting her wet!
So, a few hours on the beach, splashing around, building sandcastles, and Frisbee throwing, meant we were all quite hungry.
Heading back to the car, we decided to drive into Chichester, where we would stand a better chance of finding somewhere to eat that could cater for Callum's allergy needs efficiently. Or so we thought....!
The best place we could find was Harvester.
Now, I've heard mixed views on Harvester. Some say it's great, others say it's appalling. I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt, but unfortunately for them, the branch we picked were shocking when it came to their allergy awareness stance, or rather, lack of!!
I did my usual grilling of their procedures, and the waitress returned with an 'allergy folder' where on the 2nd paragraph they openly admit to total cross-contamination, and how they will not do a thing about it, almost as if they are proud of the fact. Appalling, shocking and irresponsible are just a few words that spring to mind!
When I explained that it was quite serious for Callum not to be exposed to any cross-contamination, in particular nut, dairy and tomato above all others, the response was 'well we're really busy, so I'll tell the kitchen, but I don't know what they'll do about it'. I even explained we carry an epi-pen due to the seriousness, met with almost deaf ears. The waitress was nice enough, but it was obvious the branch ethos was not to give a monkeys!
I queried whether they cleaned down the grill at all. I mean, lets face it, it's not exactly hard to do, and I'm damn certain I'm not the only parent faced with trying to keep my child well/ alive whilst eating out!!
The entire meal, I was nervous! We ordered grilled chicken, chips and peas for Callum. And he barely touched it. It's almost like he knew that it wouldn't be good for him. He literally had just a couple of mouthfuls. The kid is smart, this is what happened just a couple of hours after exposure to cross contamination!
It took 4 days, yes, 4 days (!!!) for the blistering and swelling to go down. Callum broke out in such a severe reaction, his entire body erupted with a severe eczema flare up that we struggled to control with the strongest of steroids and antihistamines!
Nasty nasty nappies!
A painful tummy!
He couldn't eat or drink properly because his mouth was so painful!
He had almost no sleep because he was quite simply too uncomfortable!
It meant I had virtually no sleep either, but to be honest, if I could have stopped his pain and discomfort, I would have gone with zero sleep.
And all because a national chain, just 'couldn't be arsed/give a damn' about a 'fussy eater' not wanting to have 'cross-contamination'.
Well, on behalf of my poor baby boy, and with heavy sarcasm 'thank you for nothing' Harvester, you should be utterly ashamed of yourselves.
Other food outlets are more than able to deliver a safe service, with seemingly no bother at all. See www.byronburgers.com if you need some inspiration, they are in a class of their own and could teach you a thing or two!
I really hope Harvester head office read this, with red faces, and consider changing a few things! I and my family won't be back until you do!