Let us return back to misty old Ireland for one more post about our holiday. There’s still a few gags I can bust out about the whole debacle.
The day for us leaving came around quicker than you can say ‘hot-tub indiscretion’ and we left the cottage at a bright and breezy 7am, taking a long video of the place to show that we’d done do damage. Ever the tightarse, me. We immediately ran into a problem – we had to take our bag of general rubbish down to a waste disposal centre as the bin lorries don’t operate up to the cottage. At 7am on a bank holiday weekend in rural Ireland, that’s quite hard. We spent thirty minutes driving around, with Paul wedged in the passenger seat with a honking bag of rubbish in between his legs, leaking nasty bin juice in my car. After several attempts at finding somewhere to ditch it (there, of course, being no bins anywhere) we eventually tied a five euro note to one of the handles and left it on someone’s drive. Well honestly, I wasn’t going to take it home as a bloody souvenir. Sorry Ireland.
Of course, thanks to my keen-as-mustard driving (plus the 85mph speed limit – so that’s 95mph in real money) and excellent navigation skills, we arrived at the port a good ninety minutes before we were allowed to board. Ninety minutes isn’t long enough to go anywhere and do anything so we ended up having a morose coffee in a service station served by someone who clearly used the same cloth for cleaning both his armpits and the grill-pan. Every time he leant over our table to pour a coffee I felt the skin on my face tighten like I was looking into a bonfire. There’s no excuse for body odour at all – a bottle of Mum can be picked up for a matter of pennies. Excessive sweating is fair enough – we’re all fat here – and it’s something I used to get so worried about that I’d barely put my arm up at school in case I had a wet-patch under my arms. For three years they thought my mother had been at the thalidomide until they saw my arm at full length reaching for an extra slice of chocolate and orange cornflake-cake at lunch and called off the doctors. We supped our coffee and, noticing that I had a few Euros scratching around in my pockets, I bought a scratchcard for €2. And won €4. So I bought a €4 scratchcard and promptly won €5. I chanced my luck, bought a €5 card and won another fucking €5. So I doubled down and bought a €10 scratchcard, with B.O Bill congratulating my excellent luck. I won fuck all. You may think I’m being melodramatic when I say I left the place in tears but I wasn’t upset, my eyes were just streaming from the vinegary heat-haze rippling from his armpit. I’ve never known the air in a café to shimmer.
The ferry crossing was uneventful – nothing more to report than the hilarity of watching people trying to light a cigarette on the deck when faced with a nice gale and the swell of the sea. By god they were determined, and I know the feeling being an ex-smoker, but it looked bloody hilarious. I swear you could drop a smoker behind the engine of a Boeing 747 going full-pelt and they’d still be tucking their head into their jumper and spinning the wheel on their lighter like a desperate suicide bomber. We tried to gamble but without any pound coins, we couldn’t, so we spent three hours playing Peggle and cramming as many free cans of Diet Coke as we could into my suitcase. If the ship had taken a lurch and I’d slipped over on deck I reckon the resulting explosion of fizz on my back would have sent me clear into the Irish sea like the gayest distress flare Holyhead had ever seen. Upon disembarkation (really) it was like we had cataracts – the fog was so heavy and dense that suddenly a 250 mile drive back to Newcastle at 50mph didn’t seem so alluring. We tried to book back into the Bangor Premier Inn for another night of unrivalled Welsh glamour only to be told that there was no rooms left. Bah. Obviously everyone had the same idea as us – get to a hotel and sleep out the fog which was blanketing the country. A desperate search on a shite mobile reception told us that there was two rooms left at a Premier Inn in Widnes, but due to us stopping to buy some sour strawberry laces and Paul needing his usual eighty nine pisses, we got there just a moment too late as a family checked in just in front of us. No idea if they’d had a room booked for months and were just there as planned, but I was so put out that I did a silent fart on the way out to foul their reception. And trust me, after a week of rich food and Irish treats, it didn’t smell of peaches.
We decided to head for Wakefield. The glitz! The glamour! The incest! I joke. A room was secured and comfort awaited but before we got there, we pulled over for our evening meal at a services. By, was that depressing. At 11pm on a Sunday the only option open to us was a Ginsters pasty, a Kitkat and a bottle of water. Delightful. I did spend a few minutes playing the slots despite knowing it’s a mugs game but actually, we won £20. Tell you what though, we left depressed. See, next to us was a middle-aged woman who was feeding £10 notes into the machine and spinning the slots for £2 a time. She was there when we went in, she was there as we played and she was there when we left – if she hadn’t spent over £200 I’d eat my hat. Whilst we were in WH Smith I was being nosy and keeping an eye on her (well, truth be told, I was waiting until she fucked off so I could empty the machine myself) and in walks her husband, rolling along like a disgruntled potato. He asked when she was coming out, she said ‘I’M ABOUT TO FUCKING WIN’. He had their tiny daughter with him and she looked knackered. Suddenly it wasn’t quite so funny. As we left, the mother was still there pumping the notes into the machine, and the dad and daughter were outside sitting in a car. Nearly midnight on a bank holiday. All I could think was what the money now sitting in the machine could buy the kid and how shit her homelife must be. Paul and I are lucky that we can chuck £20 into a slot, have a gamble and walk away if we lose, but this was the ugly side of things. Those machines are nothing other than pure evil – you can gamble £2 every five seconds or so and whilst yes, personal responsibility should kick in, that’s easy to say if you don’t have a gambling problem. These machines are so good at getting you to risk a bit extra, to gamble your wins, to chase your losses. There’s a reason there’s always someone playing them. Bastards.
Anyway, onto lighter things. We spent the night in the Premier Inn Wakefield and only woke when poor Svetlanka brayed on the door like we were on the Titanic. We decided on one final naughty meal so nipped over the road to a Brewers Fayre. I’m not a fan of this type of pub – it screams ‘Access Day’ – but nevertheless, we ordered nachos, hunters chicken and something else so delicious that I’ve clean forgotten it. Well fuck me, we were back to English food alright – the nachos were a pack of Doritos with some guacamole shoved on it with all the care and panache that an arsonist applies petrol with, the chicken clearly died from thirst given how dry it was (I had to suck the beermat just to moisten me lips) and Paul didn’t finish his meal. That’s only happened three times in our relationship that I can recall and one of them was when I set the kitchen on fire making cherry samosas. We hurtled back up the A1, said hello to the brassy old tart known as the Angel of the North, and we were home. Cats welcomed us back warmly by showing us their pencil-sharpeners just in case we’d forgotten what they looked like and them immediately meowing to be fed. Don’t know what their problem was, we’d left a tin-opener.
Crap, the time. I’m going to do another post soon summing up Ireland and all the little extra bits, but I bet you’re all a bit tired of my shamrock-scented shenanigans. Tell you what you will not be sick of – this fabulous bloody recipe.
Yummee! It’s essentially just beef and noodles but it tastes bloody amazing.
to make beef chow fun you’ll need:
ingredients: enough noodles for two people, a drop of sesame oil, 450g of beef frying steak, 1 large onion, 4 large spring onions, a bag of beansprouts, salt. For the marinade, you’ll need three garlic cloves, 2 tbsp of dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp of normal soy sauce (no need to get fussy, three tbsp of dark soy will do the same), 1tbsp of rice vinegar, 2tsp of grated peeled ginger (remember to keep the leftover in the freezer, it’ll keep – or use a tiny bit of dry ginger), 1/2tsp of cornflour (hence the syn), salt.
to make beef chow fun, you should:
- make the marinade first by whisking together everything I’ve put above and put aside
- slice the beef into thin strips, the spring onion into decent chunks, the onion into thickish slices and mince the garlic
- hoy the beef into half of the marinade and chill, preferably overnight but for at least 30 minutes – keep the other half of the marinade aside
- when you’re ready, cook off your noodles and once cooked, put into icy water to stop them cooking and sticking together
- heat a good non-stick pan with your drop of oil or frylight, and using a slotted spoon, put your meat in to cook – fry nice and quick and hard, fnar fnar
- put the beef to one side and throw in the onions – both the large onion and the spring onions and stir fry on hot for a minute or two, then add the beansprouts, the noodles the rest of the marinade and the beef and stir fry for a few moments more until everything is piping hot
- serve hot and with chopsticks, unless you’re a clumsy oaf like me.