let’s all go down the strand – have a cheeseburger sloppy joe bake

Paul’s done his back in thanks to a bit of adventurous moving around of our giant new sofa last night, so I’m free to type away with gay abandon tonight. We’re fretting that the new sofa is a smidge too big, given you could perfectly easily get a whole rugby team spread akimbo on there. Maybe that’s our plan, thank fuck we bought the leather guard. I’m going to tell you – the recipe tonight looks so dreadful but it tastes amazing. I say it looks dreadful – it looked BLOODY AMAZING, but so bad for you…

So, what to talk about? How about our trip to Corsica? You know I love a good tale and well, with Paul off his tits on tramadol and a bit of Murray Gold playing, now is the time. Oh, about that – we’ve kitted the house out in SONOS speakers and it is absolutely fucking amazing. They’re essentially very loud, very good, very connected speakers that allow you to play music in any room, all controlled by the iPad. The advertising shows a sophisticated couple listening to a spot of Debussy in their study before retiring to bed accompanied by Radio 4. The reality, in our house at least, is that Paul has to endure me caterwauling my way through Now That’s What I Call Period Pain 85 whilst sitting on the shitter. Mind, the flipside of that is that we get woken up by Meat Loaf blasting away inches from my face first thing in the morning. A boy can dream, though I mean, no, Meat Loaf is amazing but he has a face like a chewed toffee, so perhaps not. Bloody sidetracked again!

Why Corsica? The answer I’d like to give is that I saw it once in a Guardian travel section and fell in love with the beautiful scenery and tasteful architecture, but actually, the real reason was that a good friend of mine at work, who always travels to impeccably smart places, raved about it – and I’m incredibly easily led. Wherever she goes I end up perusing and following. I hope she doesn’t tell me when her next smear test is otherwise I’ll find myself at Wansbeck Hospital with my legs in the air and a Magic Tree hanging on my willy before you can say ‘I hardly think that’s appropriate’. Listen I don’t know how it all works. I honestly thought Corsica was a Greece island but no, it turns out that it’s a wee island off the coast of France, full of mountains, white sandy beaches and men who drive their cars like they’re in a video game. Take a moment to have a look. We booked it through Simpson Travel, another first for us because we normally like to plan and book the flights, villa and car hire ourselves. They were faultless – expensive, but you get what you pay for.

We decided to get the train down to London the day before our flight so we could “see the sights” and as a result, we found ourselves in a taxi at 5.30am trying awkwardly to make conversation with a man whose entire conversational skillset amounted to ‘money now’, ‘where you go’ and, presumably, ‘don’t scream and it’ll be quick’. I’ve mentioned before that I worry that as soon as we’ve minced off into the sunset with our tasteful matching Calvin Klein suitcases the taxi will nip back to the house and the driver will steal all our silver. So, to that end, I spent a good ten minutes airily declaring that I hoped the neighbours ‘didn’t set off our alarm’ and that ‘our flatmate would be back early’. I can’t act a jot, so god knows how we didn’t return to an empty shell of a house. I’m such a ham.

The train journey was exactly what you’d expect from a three hour early morning jaunt into London – full of people coughing gently, snoring and farting. Certainly Paul kept his side of the bargain up within ten minutes of boarding. We were in first class but really, what does that mean in the UK? You get a seat that reclines an extra inch and the steward throws you a croissant ten minutes after boarding. Clearly they decided that any decent person wouldn’t want more than one snack because the trolley never appeared again, despite me trying to catch the eye of the bustling steward who did nothing more than purse his lips at me. We did get several free cups of hot brown water from a kettle marked ‘coffee’ but as this tasted like enema run-off, I didn’t bother. Time passed slowly – I couldn’t very well fall asleep because I might have missed something free, plus I didn’t want my unattractive sleep face to end up on Buzzfeed as part of a ‘Sleep face or Cum face’ quiz. Such is life. 

We arrived into Kings Cross exactly on time and immediately headed over to Left Luggage to hand over our holiday belongings and give the woman behind the counter plenty of time to rifle through our medications and hold our boxer shorts up to the light. I asked how much it would be to leave them for a few hours and when she replied, I honestly thought she’d misheard me and thought I’d requested that she buys them outright. Fucking hell London, you so expensive. Now we all know London is expensive and busy so I’ll try to avoid moaning about that too much, but rest assured dear readers that I spent a lot of time saying ‘HOW MUCH’ and ‘COME AGAIN’ and making jibes about needing to get out a mortgage just to pay the tube fare. Paul, to his credit, only rolled his eyes to the back of his head eighty seven times.

Our first stop was a quick ride on the cable car over the Thames. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, if I’m honest, but although it was fun being high up, I was too distracted by thoughts of tumbling into the murky brown Thames below to really enjoy it. I did enjoy the fact they market it as a round trip to ‘savour all the sights’ – presumably for those who can’t crane their necks in both directions. We nipped off and into the A380 experience, which was a tiny museum dedicated to Airbus planes. There was a chance to pose inside a cockpit but we had to wait fifteen minutes whilst someone who’d clearly been cultivating his body odour for seven months took a photo of himself from every direction. I noted his unkempt hair and dirty trousers and genuinely thought – for the first time in my life – that poor bloke needs someone to love him and tidy him up. That, and his internet activity carefully monitored. As soon as I was able to sit down in the captain’s chair (and remember I had to wait for his BO to disperse – I genuinely thought the oxygen masks might have dropped down, and this was a fake fucking plane) we started taking photos – Paul posing with the ‘FLAPS’ handle, me wearing a Captain’s hat and straddling the chair like a slutty stewardess. Thankfully none of these photos will be making their way onto here, though I don’t doubt we’re on a ‘Don’t Let These People Into The Exhibition’ poster in the staffroom, along with ole Vinegarpits.

We then furiously minced down to get a riverboat back into ‘central’ London, which was charming until the smell of the churned riverbanks hit me. Was London going to leave me with permanent wrinkles from all the time I spent trying not to gag? I’ve visited many, many times before and love the city, but I don’t know whether it was the heat or something but it stank. We alighted at Tower Bridge and made our way to The Shard, which was something I almost did in my boxers when they told me the price for two blokes to get in a lift and wander around high in the sky – £60! They sneakily hide the price until you get to the register so you can’t back out else you’d look like a tight-arse, but jesus, I can get the same feeling at work and I get bloody paid for the privilege. The lift was lovely but they let far too many people onto the viewing floor at once including a coach tour of elderly Welsh ladies – I feel like I spent £60 to glimpse tiny London through a mist of Steradent and blue-rinsed hair. We, sadly, left rather quickly. I always feel like this when I’m supposed to experience things – I know that I am supposed to be astonished by how wonderful the view is or high up we were, but I just end up angry by everyone else existing and how much the windows needed a bit of vinegar and newspaper. Bah.

We decided at this point to collect the luggage and head to our hotel instead for holiday bumfun and room service. I wish I could say that we chose a wonderful boutique hotel somewhere charming, but we actually spent the night at the Thistle Hotel at Heathrow Airport, which is very much a place where middle-aged stationery salesmen go to badly fuck their secretaries in a mist of regret and Joop. I’ve never been so underwhelmed by the exterior of a building, and you must remember that I spent a summer in Southend once. We chose this hotel for a reason, though, and it certainly wasn’t the architecture. No, see, it’s connected to Terminal 5 via the ‘Pod’ system, and that is AMAZING to us as two very geeky lads. It’s essentially a little taxi service but you get your own ‘Pod’ and it drives itself! GASP. Press a button, and a tiny robotic chamber comes beetling down the track and you climb inside. They’re sleek, purple and spacious, although it does feel a bit like you’re wheeling your suitcase into a portable toilet. Then it silently trundles along a track by itself and drops you off wherever you need to be. It’s the future! Of course, being the UK, we were immediately charged £5 each for having the temerity to take a driverless car to the hotel. What’s that charge for? I certainly didn’t see anyone behind the thing pushing it and humming. Bastards. 

We were shown to our room, and of course, it was very conveniently placed only a short flight away from the reception desk, and it was…perfunctory. It had a bed, it was clean, the TV boasted colour and at least six channels, so we went to sleep, woke only to order room service (£17 for a burger that I could have planed my feet with) and watch Doctor Who, and suddenly it was time to depart for our flight. That’s where we can leave it for now.

Tonight’s recipe is a perfect recipe for a family or a large group, but if you want to scale it down, feel free – just make less, or, as we do, make enough for six and eat it all greedily, using your shame tears to salt your chips. We know how you tick. You need to healthy extra your cheese and bun and it looks messy, but just go for it. You’ll use 4.5 syns for the whole dish, but serving six, it’s up to you if you count it. You could use less oil or not bother with the sesame seeds!

cheeseburger sloppy joe bake

to make cheeseburger sloppy joe bake, you’ll need:

  • 500g 5% minced beef (struggling to find cheap beef? BUY OUR BOX OF MEAT AND NEVER LOOK BACK)
  • 1 tsp each of salt, pepper, cumin and mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked papika
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 6 slices of cheese
  • 6 wholemeal buns (one being a HEB, mind)
  • one egg
  • 1/2 tsp honey (0.5 syns)
  •  1.5 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp mustard (1 syn for dijon)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (3 syns)

and to make cheeseburger sloppy joe bake, you should:

  • throw the oven up to 180 degrees, yeah I said throw, I’m cool and with it
  • fry the onion gently in a little oil or frylight (fools!) with your minced garlic
  • add the mince and get your meat brown, chuck the salt, pepper, cumin, mustard and paprika in, because why not
  • cooked through? add the tomatoes and simmer down until it’s thickened nicely
  • spray your little oven dish (big enough to hold six ‘burgers’ pressed together) with a drop of oil or frylight (why would you? WHY?) (YOU’RE A HEATHEN, HARRY)
  • slice the rolls into half and put the bottom halves into the dish, making sure they’re as snug as a bug in a rug
  • pour the beef mixture on top of the buns and top each ‘roll’ with a slice of cheese
  • put the tops on
  • mix together the egg, worcestershire sauce, honey and mustard and brush over the top of the buns (you’ll not use all of it, so reduce the syn value even more!)
  • sprinkle on the sesame seeds
  • bake in the oven for twenty minutes, making sure it doesn’t catch, then serve!

GOODNESS ME.

Don’t forget to serve it with speed food. Obviously.

J

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