Yes, sausage stroganott. Not stroganoff. Why? Well read on!
I’m trying to get motivated to write about Iceland but I’m distracted by a row on Facebook, where some poor lass has posted a few outfits and invited constructive criticism from the wider group. Now, to me, we’re all adults, and if you’re asking for an opinion, you have to expect negative opinions as well as positive. Seems fair? Apparently not. Someone suggested that that her trousers were tight enough to lip-read with (i.e. the camel had both feet in the river) and gosh almighty, the arguments that it has started has been unbelievable. It’s like a text version of cats fighting in an alley, only with only 46% of the alphabet being used. Personally, I thought she looked pretty in all of the outfits, but then I dress like someone hiding from the police, so what do I know. Anyway, the terminally offended have been moaning on about ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’, and I’m about ready to grind my teeth to diamond. What a sickly, pointless saying – if you pull the logic out of it, you can only say that Hitler had a decent ‘tache and never comment on you know, the atrocities. Can we not take someone constructively saying that our clothes are a bit tight, our hair looks like a burst sofa cushion or we smell like a tramp’s foot? Are we not all adults? Seemingly not. Does my fucking nut in.
ACTUALLY, whilst I’m having a rant, let me tell you something – I got an email the other day via Facebook Messenger from someone complaining that I ‘don’t post often enough’ – not because she wanted more of my “hilarious” banter but because she expected a daily recipe. Oh! Very good. I ignored her, but the flamin’ cheek. It was all very condescending and patronising, with a bit of ‘if you typed less and kept it succinct, you could post more recipes’ and ‘I signed up expecting a daily recipe’. Well yes, I could type less, but at the same time, if it’s just recipes you want, there’s a whole bloody world of them out there or you know, you could stop being a cheap fucker and buy a recipe book! Quite honestly, it wound me up enough to the point where I stood in the kitchen and moaned about it to Paul for a good ten minutes. Just to clarify, this is a personal blog and we will post when and where we can – but we’re both busy lads with full-time jobs and outside interests and well, four holidays a year. We posted over 200 recipes last year alone, all with narrative. Be thankful for what you get! Thank god 99.99% of you are wonderful people. That’s why I do it!
Oh ONE more thing – can we have a moratorium on people from England using the word haters? You’re not in Mean Girls, flower.
Anyway, hush. Iceland. Missed part one? The cheek. It’s right here. Love our travel stories? They’re all in our new book, naturally! BUY COPY NOW.
twochubbycubs go to Iceland: part two
We awoke the next day nice and early – not out of any special keenness to make the most of the day…somehow, that never occurs to us, but rather because the breakfast buffet was open and we didn’t want to miss a single bloody crumb. We’re classy Brits, what can I say? I barely had enough time to do something about my bedhair and have my morning piss before Paul was pushing me into the lift and down into the lobby. We had a very pleasant surprise with the lady who ushered us through to the breakfast area, who, as I detected immediately underneath her posh ‘how do you do’ voice, was a fellow Geordie! You can always tell – the strangulated vowels and elongated syllables, the eight bottles of Dog clinking in her handbag, the fact that as soon as both our façades were dropped we were ‘NAAA NO MAN’-ing and ‘DIVVENT’ing away like the poshest remake of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet ever. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Denise Welch herself had come tumbling down the stairs shouting on about cheap bathrooms and kitchen deals. Anyway, we stopped and had a pleasant chat about Iceland and then were allowed through.
Well, how lovely. Everything you could possibly want, and more, all steaming hot and plentiful. Good work, Grand Hotel. We immediately developed Buffet Anxiety – what to have, how much to slop onto a plate before people took us to one side for an intervention, where the hell the full fat milk was because god-damn-it I’m on holiday and I’m sick to death of eating my thimble of Puffed fucking Wheat with what looks and tastes exactly like Tesco Everyday Value White Emulsion. There was a wee glass of oil with a label in Icelandic (the Icelandic language is beautiful, but written down, it looks rather like how you’d spell out the noise the bath makes when it’s draining the last of the water). I filled up a tiny portion and took it to Paul as olive oil for his bread and cheeses. It was cod liver oil. He wasn’t happy, not least because he spat it out like it was curdled cum. Mahaha – that would be the second time I’d managed to get him to eat something awful, with my minor victory of getting him to eat a dog chew in the car on the drive up to Edinburgh only a day or so ago. I told him it was beef jerky. He finished it mind, so it can’t have been that bad, and it’s reassuring to know that if times get tight, I can put him on Pedigree Chum and crack on. Poor Paul. Let me say though – normally the things I do put in his mouth don’t taste like cod liver oil or dog food. Well, maybe cod liver. If it’s a warm day.
After breakfast, we nipped back to the room to review our options. We were booked on a bus tour later that day (the glamour!) but the morning was ours. It doesn’t get light until around 11am in December, but that suits us. Darkness flatters our faces. We spotted that the famous Iceland Phallological Museum was only a thirty minute walk from the hotel, so we decided to set out in search of all that knob. The website stated they opened at 10am so we had plenty of time to dawdle. One of our main concerns with Iceland is that we’d fall over on the ice and crack open our heads or split our trousers, so Paul had been dispatched a few days before to buy some suitable boots. I had my Dr Martens, so of course, I was fine – and effortlessly stylish.
He came back with a pair of boots that looked exactly like something an old lady would wear to bingo so she didn’t tumble over outside when she was having a fag. They were awful. Square, boxy, 110% polyester. But he loved them. They worked, mind, though if you’re worrying about falling over on the ice, don’t be. The footpaths and roads are exceptionally well-gritted and Paul only went arse-over-tit once, right into a puddle. Which was hilarious.
Central Reykjavík is a doddle to get around on foot, with long straight roads and well-marked streets, and we arrived at the Knob Museum (sorry, my wrists hurt and phallological is just too much) just as it was supposed to open, hanging back for a few minutes because well, it doesn’t do to look too keen for a museum about knobs to open. We waited nearby…waited…waited…no. No, turns out it wasn’t going to open that day because the owner needed a rest, presumably from cramming willies into glass jars and making carriers bags from foreskins (what a great idea though – if you rubbed them just right, they’d turn into bin liners!) We went back to the hotel.
On our way back, I remembered that we had asked for a deluxe room, and that our current room, although perfectly serviceable, didn’t quite marry up with the word deluxe. It was very standard. The view we were afforded was of the service entrance around the back and plus, we were only three floors up. This hotel had many more floors than that! I pitched up to the front desk and enquired whether, because see it’s our honeymoon (cough), we could have a nicer room. Good old monobrow Aðalsteinunn behind the counter was having none of it and icily told us that we’d ‘already been upgraded’. I resisted the urge to ask whether we were originally going to be bedding down on a soiled mattress under the lifts, and pushed on politely. She crumpled a little and then offered us a room upgrade for a mere £100. Meh, fair enough. At this point I could see Paul’s ashen face and knew that his breakfast was already knocking on the escape hatch, and time was tight. I handed over my card, she disappeared for roughly five days, and came back with a new key for a room on the 10th floor. Marvellous! We rushed up, Paul left a goodbye skidder in the toilet only to find there wasn’t a brush to clean it away with, and off we went to our new room.
Well, let me tell you this – had I not physically pressed the button in the lift for a new floor, I would have bet the house that we were in the same room. Not a thing was different, bar the toilet pan no longer looking like the starting grid at Brand’s Hatch. Yes, they’d moved us up a few floors, but no difference to the room. BAH. We did, however, have a much nicer view, see:
Nevermind. I didn’t dare go down and ask for another room in case housekeeping had visited our previous room and reported us, so we did what all young, happy couples do on holiday and had a quick nap. Our bus for the Golden Circle tour was due for 12.15, so we had plenty of time.
The way most tours work in Iceland is simple – you book them in advance either online or through your hotel, and a small shuttle bus will come and pick you up from the hotel and take you to the bus depot, where you will board a waiting coach. It works brilliantly. We used Grey Line for all of our excursions and they were terrific. The Golden Circle tour (well, the small one) encompasses a visit to Thingvellir National Park, the Strokkur geyser and Gulfross waterfall. All very pleasant. We were pushed out of the way whilst boarding the coach by some frankly gargantuan American lady who was inadvisably wearing leggings and showing everyone her business, but aside from that it was all terribly civilised. The tour guide, Lorenzo (a good strong Icelandic name right there), gave an interesting commentary on Iceland between the three places and it was one of the very few occasions where I’ve been on a bus and not immediately started snoring in the ear of the person next to me. You do have to wear your seatbelt, mind – it’s the law, even if, as in my case, it pushes up your coat to give you the appearance of having a colossal rack. There’s not much point in me waxing lyrical about how beautiful Iceland is – you really need to see it for yourself, but know that it is so alien and snow-covered and different that it really will take your breath away.
Thingvellir National Park
We stopped here for around half an hour to allow everyone to take pictures and gaze at the scenery. Paul and I managed to walk into around ten different family photos so that’s not a bad average – I always try to pull a face in the vain hope I’ll end up going viral on a South Korean You’ve Been Framed but it hasn’t happened yet. The main attraction, other than the view, is the giant crack (story of my life) where the tectonic plates are pulling apart. Paul and I walked down a fair way before realising that we’d need to walk back and endure the shame of gasping and spluttering our way onto the bus. We stopped in the gift shop to buy a ridiculously awful teddybear.
The bus trundled on to Strokkur geyser, which is one of Iceland’s most visited hotspots. Literally. Essentially a bubbling pool most of the time, it’ll suddenly go off, spurting up to 40m into the air with an almighty splash. It’s great fun, until you remember the water is superheated and, because it contains so much sulphur, smells like death. Seriously, it’s one of the few tourist places I’ve ever been to where I can fart with gay abandon (is there any other kind) and actually improve the smell of the place. We took a video, as you’d expect, but it’s really just two minutes of me going ‘I reckon it’s going to blow, it’s gonna blow, any second now…’ followed by Paul going ‘FUCK ME IT’S AWAY’ at the top of his voice. It’s like our videos on xtube, really, only you don’t need to pay the Amateurs fee. So, instead, here’s a video from Youtube. Ignore the wank music and the slightly hipster presentation.
OK maybe one photo from us. I’ve shrunk the quality.
Canny, right? After we’d all have a good gawp and made sure to spend a billion trillion krona on a Kitkat, hot chocolate and surly attitude from the small onsite restuarant, we were back on the bus and heading into the dusk to Gulfross waterfall. Lorenzo kept us informed as to how Iceland grows vegetables (in greenhouses), warm their houses (heat from the ground) and er, how much unemployment benefit you get. It all sounds like a utopia. The roads were very icy in places, with the bus slewing around at the back, but it all felt very safe, albeit the loud look-at-me chuntering from the aforementioned American lady got a little grating. We arrived at Gulfross around an hour later.
CATASTROPHE. The bus parks about 500m away from the viewing platform, but that 500m is down what felt like 499m of rickety, wooden stairs with no room to go side by side. Now as fat blokes, stairs are fine when you’re going down them, although they did creak and bend alarmingly underfoot, but we knew that once we were down there, we’d need to climb back up. Agony. We braved it anyway and it was absolutely bloody beautiful. Again, photos can’t really do it justice – it was just getting dark and this colossal waterfall is cascading busily just in front of you, cutting its way through the Earth. We took some photos but again, they lacked style, so here’s a video. Again, I apologise for the music – it does indeed sound like something you’d hear playing in the lifts of a Dignitas clinic, but here, make do.
We did spot an opportunity for mischief and to get our own back on the brash, burly American lady who had pushed us out of the way at the beginning, however. See, she had come down behind us and we knew she would be just as weary going up the stairs as we were. So, naturally, we waited until she had seen that there was no-one else on the stairs going up and could therefore make her very slow ascent. She began, and we immediately started up behind her, meaning she had to do it all in one without stopping. The fact that her heavy, laboured breathing masked our own was a bonus, and let me tell you, climbing behind this lady and looking up made you sure as hell concentrate on looking down and finding your footing. We all made it, though, and how we chuckled to ourselves as she was taken away on oxygen.
The tour finished with everyone dozing lightly on the bus as it made its way back to the capital, and we were back at the hotel for around 7pm. We decided, given our feet looked like slabs of corned beef from all the walking, to have a gin and tonic in the bar downstairs and rest a litte, given it was “Happy Hour”.
I think they need to look carefully at their definition of Happy. The barman was obnoxious and disinterested. We asked him what he’d recommend and he replied by telling us what he drinks when he’s out for ‘real fun’ as opposed to ‘hotel fun’, but in an intensely condescending fashion. I’m always wary of people who have to big themselves up like that – I rather got the impression he’d be home away to bed with a hot Vimto and a cold wank. Nevertheless, we ordered two gin and tonics and my recollection is £36. £36! I hadn’t asked for a bottomless glass! It was nice gin, yes, but I’m fairly sure it was just Bombay Sapphire. Of course I couldn’t lose face so we paid up without comment, but fuck me, never again. For the rest of the holiday our interaction with the dour barman was limited to us trying to figure out who he looked like, until Paul got it in one with ‘Tyrone from Coronation Street after receiving a poor health diagnosis’. Mahah. We planned to go out in the evening but once we were back in the room, we were out like a light and didn’t wake up again until 1am. Thank god for room service!
Anyway, speaking of meals. Here’s that recipe. WORST SEGUE EVER.
to cook sausage stroganott, you’ll need:
- 6 lean pork sausages (maybe use the sausages from our Musclefood deal – syn free! Or, if you like chewing what tastes like a lemon squashed into a church doormat, try the delicious Slimming World sausages)
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 4 bacon medallions, sliced (maybe use the bacon from our smaller Musclefood deal – syn free! Or, if you prefer cooking with what looks like a tired, anaemic slice of scrotum, buy the wonderful Weight Watchers bacon)
- 500g mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 250ml beef stock
- 4 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
You can make this a bit more stroganoffy by adding some Quark, but frankly, it makes the sauce look like something you’d see slurping its merry way along a colonic irrigation hose, so…up to you.
to cook sausage stroganott, you should:
- cook the sausages – you’ll get the best results in an Actifry, which, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can get for £99 by clicking here, just saying
- slice the sausages into 4 pieces each and set aside
- meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat with a little oil and fry the onions until soft
- and the bacon and garlic and continue frying until the bacon is cooked
- add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another five minutes or so, or until the mushrooms have softened
- add the stock, tomato puree and paprika, stir, and bring the mixture to simmer
- add the sausages and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes and the sauce has thickened a little
We served ours with mash and peas – nothing fancy, but a decent warming dinner.