speedy mexican lasagne and día de las madres

Mexican lasagne, yes, but first: happy Mother’s Day! Yes, it’s that time of the year again where mothers all around the country have to smile wanly through being woken up early and eating a poorly made fry-up just because their spawn have put a macaroni approximation of Mother on a card and can’t wait to give it over. A day where boxes of Dairy Box go through the roof, the Ambassador has a run on his Ferrero Rochers and there’s someone stabbed to death over a bunch of Tesco flowers at quarter to four. With my birthday on Wednesday I was hoping to come to some sort of arrangement with my mother where we don’t bother with cards and presents for each other but sadly she beat me to it. Bah! I know, my generosity warms your heart, no? I love my mum to bits – she’s me but twelve stone lighter and with a better moustache. I’ve typed many words over the years about how supportive she’s been, how honest she is, how hilarious I find her, how generous she can be, and well, we don’t need to go to that well again.

So, to mix it up, I thought I’d share a memory about my mother (I was going to call it a mummory, but that sounds too much like mammory, and Christ that wouldn’t be appropriate…well, perhaps for Paul’s story) and Paul would do the same. I’m even taking off his leash so he can type out his own words, bless him. You know, he always frets that he isn’t funny when he writes his bits so if you’re reading this, do me a favour and show him some love. Now, I know I always describe my childhood as some dystopian timescape where I was left foraging for seeds whilst Father toiled in the sun for pittance, but actually, it was full of laughter. I’ll give you one memory plucked from deep within.

James’ memory

I’ll open with a confession: my sister and I were horrible people sometimes growing up. But all kids are, even yours, so please don’t sit in judgement, you’ll only break the seat. We grew up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere and fighting and bickering and bullying was the only thing to do. My sister and I had a mortal enemy (well, no, we would be friends with her one minute and then, following a fall-out over a Madonna CD or something we’d all be bickering) in the village who we used to call by a very mean name to do with her top lip. She’d give as good as she got, mind, and we were forever fighting. Things came to a head one day on the school bus between my sister and this girl and there was an almighty scrap. Hair was pulled, there was lots of screaming and shrieking, but once I calmed down the fight itself was the usual girlfight. We were all unceremoniously chucked off the bus and made our way back to our own houses to calm down.

My mum comes into it at this point. She was busy watching Countdown when we snuck in, only to have the phone ring and it to be the mother of the other child ranting and raving. Now given we all used to fight with each other no one child was in the wrong, and my mother wasn’t having all the names being thrown at us via the phone. On went the comfortable shoes and out she strutted with a face like thunder, Lambert and Butler furiously clamped between her teeth as she departed. At the other end of the village was the other mother and they’d agreed to meet in the middle. Gasp! It was like a duel at sundown. We followed as surreptitiously as we could, hoping to see a flurry of fists and fag-ends and hair pulling, but it was all terribly anticlimactic – they shook hands, agreed their offspring were all little bastards and agreed to become alcoholics together and run away like a budget Thelma and Louise. We then both got the top layer of skin smacked off our arses and sent to bed.

Pfft. Oh and as a quick aside, who could forget the time I went careering off my bike, landed on my face tearing my lip open and I suspect breaking my nose, and she came running across four farm fields and a motorway with merely a teatowel to staunch the blood loss. No trip to the hospital either! No wonder I’ve got a nose that constantly whistles.

Right: over to Paul.

Paul’s memory

James loves me telling this story – I sometimes have to go through it as some sort of bedtime story to help him drift off but if anything it just makes him more awake through chuckling. This story takes place back in…oooh, I reckon about 2002-2003. I was a fresh-faced yet acne-pitted sixteen year-old on a residential weekend for some youth worker event. Me and my friend James (not my James, he was just whoring himself in Newcastle at the time) had been nominated to attend which was pretty much just an underage piss-up over at Loughborough University with a couple of workshops on during the day to make it seem a bit more legit. I had a whale of a time! Now, because my family were so poor, I was sent away with no more than £5 in my pocket – thankfully everyone else was kind enough to let me share their bottles of 20/20 and the odd Superking.

Anyway, when I returned home I did the usual thing of firing up the Compaq and dialling-up onto AOL to check on my Faceparty etc to see what had happened when I was gone. Mother, in all her Littlewoods-outlet-glory, was on fine form and almost as soon as I’d walked through the door (a fog of Lambrini fumes behind me) started arguing about something. Mother has this great knack of when she’s in a huff managing to pull an argument out of nowhere and flogging it and flogging it and flogging it until you just admit whatever wrongdoing she’s pinned on you just to get her to piss off. This argument started with something innocuous like me leaving the milk out (easily done), but then managed to snowball into a multitude of other things. I think she was just getting a weekends’ worth of whinging out of her system, like lancing a boil. So on it rolled –

“You drink far too much fackin’ squash. It’s no wonder you’re so fat! A pint! A fackin’ pint of squash!”

“I can never get you trousers, I have to go all the way to BHS for ‘em! They ent cheap, yer know!”

“And you nicked my Fleetwood Mac CD” – for some reason she was convinced that I’d stolen her Fleetwood Mac CD. Bear in mind that I was sixteen at that time and hadn’t even heard of Fleetwood Mac. What did she think I’d need with ‘Rumours’?! Anyway, it turned up years later in a DJ Sammy DC case of my brothers but she’s still convinced that I snuck in during the night after hopping on the midnight train from Newcastle to slip it back in.

This went on for a few hours and I was getting pretty tired (I was also likely still pissed) when she come around to “and I know you’re on that internet, speaking to them mens” – that’s a direct quote by the way, the Fens have a lot to answer for. I feigned outrage at such a suggestion, as I hurriedly minimised as many Gaydar chatroom windows as I could and ‘brb’d all the busily-wanking 40 year old blokes. I wasn’t prepared to put up with such slanderous accusations so I leapt out of that chair in preparation for a mega-strop out the back door. She must’ve been just as frustrated as I was and grabbed her flip-flop to give me a slap across the arse with it (as was the style at the time) and duly did, but in a state of pure rage I pushed her onto the sofa. I didn’t have a clue what to do next so I thought that I’d made it that far, I might as well do *something* so I grabbed her flip flop and slapped her on the arse back just as hard as I could. They still talk of the Phantom Slap that ricocheted round Yaxley to this very day, inbetween gazing cluelessly at aeroplanes and interbreeding. Her face was an absolute picture and it was completely worth it. I think it was a mixture of shock, bit of pain but also trying to understand what had just happened. Before she had a chance to retaliate I ran screaming from the house and spent a week living between friends houses so she could fucking find that CD and stop bloody whinging.

Back to James.

Bless him, he loves her really. The way one might miss the ache of an ingrown toenail once the doctor has removed it. Speaking of cheese, let’s do this mexican lasagne. Why is it Mexican? Who knows. I had refried beans in a Mexican restaurant a while back and, having spotted they’re free on SW, and inspired slightly by that meat’n’beans mince you get in ASDA, here we are! This serves six – we served ours with wedges done in the Actifry before you ask: the new Actifry is dropping in price again on Amazon!

mexican lasagne

to make mexican lasagne you will need:

  • 1kg beef mince
  • 16 pitted sliced green olives (3 syns)
  • 1 tin of refried beans (free!)
  • 3 tbsp of taco seasoning
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp sliced jalapeños
  • half an onion
  • half a box of lasagne sheets
  • 160g grated low-fat cheese (4x HeA)
  • 4 tbsp low fat sour cream (6 syns)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

You get so much beef packed into our freezer filler with Musclefood that’ll give you a tingle somewhere intimate just thinking about it! Treat yourself: you can’t beat our meat. Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window!

to make mexican lasagne you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • brown the mince in a large frying pan
  • meanwhile, chop up the green olives in a mini-chopper
  • tip the chopped olives into a bowl and then add the cherry tomatoes, jalapenos and onion and blitz to make a salsa
  • (you can do the above two steps by hand if needed)
  • add the chopped olives to the mince along with the taco seasoning, salsa and tin of refried beans, and stir well to combine
  • spray a little oil around a 9″x 13″ baking dish
  • add one third of the mince mixture to the dish and top with lasagne sheets
  • sprinkle over a quarter of the cheese
  • spoon over another third of the meat mixture and top with lasagne sheets and a bit of cheese, and then do that once more
  • sprinkle over the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour
  • remove from the oven and add the diced tomato
  • drizzle over the sour cream and sprinkle over the spring onions and extra jalapenos
  • enjoy

Good news with all that spice too: you’ll have plenty of time to re-evaluate your life as it thunders back out of you later on!

More recipes you say? Of course.

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J

perfect poached egg bombs – a proper Slimming World breakfast

Perfect poached egg bombs will follow but first, howdo! Sorry for the gap in transmission but see, that’s the downside of our Year of Holidays – we’re too busy flying around like Judith Chalmers (only without the vag-neck) that there’s no time for blogging! NO TIME. We were going to just do a simple recipe post tonight for the perfect poached egg bombs but we keep getting weird letters written in what I hope is chocolate in the post from “Alan, I’m Your Number One Fan” demanding we finish our French escapades. So, without a moment of hesitation, not least because I don’t fancy being hobbled, let’s slip back to France, oui?

click here for part one  | click here for part two | click here for part three

When we were last together you left us just as we finished touring the Centre Pompidou, and Paul had to chip away at my eyes with a chisel because they hadn’t so much glazed over with boredom as fully welded together. There are countless arty blogs out there where you can chinstroke yourself to orgasm over an interpretation of some wanky picture, and readers, this isn’t one. We decided to wander about and people watch for a bit before Paul, very cleverly, decided we ought to stop for a cocktail. Full as I was with gay abandon I said sure and told him to pick a spot. Perhaps we’d end up on the banks of the Seine with a boulevardier or sitting in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower sipping a Mai Tai whilst accordion music played in the background?

No. Paul, for reasons entirely beyond me, was dead set on drinking in a newsagent with a bar attached, spilling out onto the street between a collection of homeless folk and some bins. I tried to steer him in a new direction but he was having none of it because he was “thirsty” and his “feet hurt” and “how bad can it be”. Well, I’ll let you decide – here’s a picture of two of the recommended cocktails, a Cosmopolitan and a Mojito.

Because you may be the sort whose house is littered with SKOL ashtrays and Sports Direct catalogues, I’ll give you a few clues as to why this is off. Firstly, cocktails aren’t generally served in pint glasses. Second, a Cosmopolitan isn’t usually made by mixing vodka with an off-brand Innocent smoothie. Thirdly, two cocktails shouldn’t cost less than two packets of crisps. Still, being tight-arse Geordies, we choked them down, finished off as many of the free nuts as we could before the taste of piss overcame us, and then staggered out into the streets. At this point I was feeling very light-headed and tipsy (be fair, I’ve never drank a pint of 4-star petrol before) so we decided to go back to the hotel for a nap.

Yeah, I know, we’re getting old. Two hours later we awoke refreshed, with only a nominal amount of the cocktail vomited back up onto the pillow. I fixed my hair, Paul brushed his teeth and we both flossed our nethers, and headed back out into the night. We’d booked a river tour of various Parisian landmarks – mainly the ones by the river, you understand – and it was only a twenty minute fat-shuffle along the banks of the Seine to reach the dock. We joined the queue, immediately adopted the British past-time of tutting at people, and were onboard in no time. We hurtled up the stairs like we were the kids waiting outside of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, determined as we were to get decent seats at the back of the boat, alone under the stars. We needn’t have worried, most sensible folk stayed downstairs where it was warm and dry.

But fuck it, we’re hard as owt, and we stayed upstairs, enjoying the wonderful sights of the lit-up Musée d’Orsay, The Louvre and Notre Dame as we drifted past. We were joined upstairs by a young French couple who were clearly infatuated with one another. I presume she was deeply asthmatic as every time I looked over he was trying to breathe oxygen into her lungs. They went quiet for a bit and I chanced a quick look only to see her seemingly tugging him off. Either that or there was a very localised fire in his nethers and she was trying to pat it out. Well, I was disgusted – that’s not suitable behaviour on a boat, no matter how amorous the Paris night might make you. I told Paul that I was so aghast by their behaviour that I wouldn’t be able to finish off giving him a rusty trombone – so we headed downstairs and left them to it.

We took up position by the exit as the boat came into dock. This was awkward in and of itself: there was a young lady absolutely bawling her eyes out right next to the door, with seemingly no-one there to comfort her. I didn’t know what to do for the best, so I covered her with my coat like you would do with an errant parrot. No of course not, but neither of us speak good enough French to comfort a broken heart (maybe she had planned a trip up the Eiffel Tower of the guy upstairs). I tried to put a sympathetic ‘there there’ face on but Paul broke it to me that I just looked constipated so I stood staring at the ‘what to do in an emergency’ notice for ten minutes whilst the Captain fussed the boat back and forth. On reflection I should have slapped my hand down on her shoulder and said ‘non non non’ but hey, easy to be wise after the event.

As we had docked under the Eiffel Tower and I was suitably sloshy with alcohol, I cried that we really ought to go up the Eiffel Tower despite a) not having tickets and b) I’ve done it three times before. God loves a trier though, eh? We stumbled up the stairs only to see a queue snaking all down the street – and this at 10pm, for goodness sake. We had spotted a giant wheel (The Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde, fact fans) from the boat and thought we ought to give that a go instead. This meant getting somewhere where an Uber could pick us up and in turn, running the gauntlet of all the looky-looky blokes outside the Eiffel Tower. Why is this shit allowed? Who has ever come down from the Tower and thought, well fuck me, that was bonny, and now what I really need to remember the experience is a highly-flammable LED-covered razor-sharp asbestos-soaked model? I mean honestly.

When I was younger – pre-Paul era – I went to Paris with a mate and we ended up getting suckered into having a caricature done by some swarthy ruffian. We paid almost fifty euros for a drawing that gave me a face that looked like John Prescott standing on an upturned plug. I fared better than my friend – he was drawn as having the head the size of a pound coin and a belly the size of a dinner plate. He committed suicide later that year. Ate himself to death.

Sssh, I’m kidding. He’s fine and still fabulous, thanks for asking.

We Ubered over to the giant wheel, not before being told off by some gimp in a suit who told us not to loiter outside their hotel. Pfft. I’d understand if we were lifting up our tops to passing cars and blowing kisses but we were simply waiting for an Uber. What a turd. Plus, it was only a frickin’ Pullman, nowt fancy! They’re probably still smarting over the time we rinsed them out over their in-room breakfast service in Munich.

The wheel was an experience. 70 meters high and by god you feel every single joint creaking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly safe I’m sure, but there’s something frightening about riding a ferris wheel that could be put away in a lorry the very next day. It’s all I can do to remember to turn the key to start my car, what if the charming folks responsible for maintenance were similarly shoddy? It didn’t help that thanks to a very strong wind our little ‘car’ was rocking all over the shop, with Paul cheerfully rocking it extra hard for good measure. He stopped when I told him I’d vomit in his coat hood. We went round three times, which seemed unnecessary, it’s not as though the Champs-Elysées changes on the minute. We were eventually let off, and, after a few more drinks somewhere my booze-soaked mind has long forgotten, we went to bed.

Now, that seems like a good place to leave it. I’m trying my very best not to prattle on for too long in a post – I know you struggle – so perhaps I’ll save the next bit for tomorrow. What’s involved? Sewers, blindness and gays. I mean, you’d expect nowt less, wouldn’t you? To the recipe then…

Calling these poached egg bombs might seem a trifle exciting but it’s what Jamie Oliver calls them and damn it, I’m not one to argue with him. I know he rubs some folks up the wrong way but I really like him, even if he does give his kids silly names. This might seem like an especially easy recipe and you know what, you’re right – but the reason I’m putting it up is because I see so many people who can’t poach eggs. It’s easy! Really easy! But this way is foolproof.

to make perfect poached egg bombs, you’ll need:

  • however many fresh eggs you want – fresher the better – you want them hot from the chicken’s anus (and yes, chickens do lay eggs from their bumhole – well, sort of)
  • clingfilm
  • ramekins or little cups
  • oil sprayer

Then customise them however you wish:

  • sliced wafer thin ham
  • smoked salmon
  • chives
  • chilli
  • cheese

to make perfect poached egg bombs, you should:

  • get a big pan of water bubbling
  • cut out a big square of cling film and line your glass or ramekin with it
  • spritz it with a couple of sprays of oil (0.5 syns for seven sprays, I used one)
  • put whatever you want on the inside of the ramekins – slices of ham or salmon, chilli flakes, cheese…anything – I was boring and just went with black pepper because I had proper fresh eggs
  • crack your egg into the ramekin and then tie the cling film up in a knot, squeezing any air out whilst you do – you want a cling-filmed ball of egg see – and tie a big knot in it mind, no tiny little thing
  • lower your egg bombs into the bubbling water and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes, depending on how firm you like your egg white
  • if you are clever you could dangle these off a wooden spoon, but I just chucked them in – rebel
  • once cooked, simply slide them out of their cling film prison and enjoy!

I served ours on a bed of wilted spinach, on our healthy extra toast with a bit of philly on. Lovely!

Of course, if you want to go old-school, get your pan simmering, crack egg into glass, slowly tip egg into bubbling water. No need to swirl. Remove when cooked. Easy!

And of course, if you’re a lazy sod who really can’t do poaching, just get one of these.

Looking for more breakfast ideas? But of course. Here’s some and more!

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Enjoy!

J

chicken caesar wraps with perfect shredded chicken

Hey folks – here for the chicken caesar wraps? Naturally. They’re delicious and easy to make. Good news is, you’re not going to have to endure a 3000 word essay about us blundering around in Paris in order to get to the recipe. No, because we’ve got 24 to watch and photos to take (don’t ask), we’re handing over to the fragrant and lovely Alexandra Rivers as our new guest writer!


chubsters through time

Did Queen Vic count her syns? Of course she bloody didn’t!

Did Catherine the Great have her chefs make quiches made out of cottage cheese and scan bran, in between illustrious encounters with Arabian stallions? Somehow, I think not.

I love Slimming World: it’s an excellent plan which is surrounded by an impressive network of followers (most of whom are middle aged women called Pam who are fond of pretending they like eating things made out of cottage cheese and scan bran). Now, like a lot of Slimming World-ers, a lot of the time I don’t take my ‘synning’ too seriously (not to be confused with sinning – I take that VERY seriously), but I’ve still lost a few stone on the plan, and somehow weight is still coming off. For anyone looking to lose a few pounds, I genuinely couldn’t recommend SW enough, however, there are days when I wonder what our fat ancestors would think about all this.

Whichever timeframe you choose to look at, there will be an ample bosom and impressive posterior, belonging to some glorious woman, peering out at you from the pages of the history books. Please note: There are, of course, many men with equally as magnificent bottoms, but somehow they don’t stand out as much (this probably has something to do with the historically misogynistic outlook of the world, and women rulers being seen as something as a novelty).

Anyway, history is literally littered with them, and who doesn’t love a good old fat bottomed girl? Especially one that’s got a crown on her head?! Articles upon articles have been written on the likes of Queen Victoria and her roundness – to the point where she is almost something of a plus size pin-up and role model. Who’d have thought?!

Now, I wonder if the likes of Queen Victoria and all the other larger ladies in history, ever wondered about shedding a few pounds. The portraits that document their lives certainly don’t seem to indicate this…. We see women of power starting as Skinny Minnies, and then grow a little in each subsequent portrait. Certainly no sign of any kind of diet plan! I suppose they had more important things to be thinking about, like making seriously questionable national decisions, which would have ensured anarchy if they had been made in today’s society.  Now, I am no expert, but I suspect making decisions as such wouldn’t leave one with much time for scan bran concoctions and syn counting. These glorious larger ladies couldn’t give a toss that there were three million syns in their swan pies and chocolate roulades: they were far too busy fornicating with horses and werewolves!

Honestly, sometimes I think we should take a message from the history books, and this one is a good as any: while watching what you eat and synning every morcel of what goes in your mouth is a great way to shed a few pounds, sometimes, just sometimes, there are more important things to worry about. Had a shitty day? Then just eat the god damn deep fried mars bar! There will be time to rectify it later in life.


Too bloody true. Works for both genders too. Look at Henry VIII, or my husband Paul as I like to call him: big fat fucker but didn’t do without in any sense of the word. Yeah, I know he was thin for most of his life but let’s be honest, I bet he had more fun as a big fella, even if he would get out of breath fastening up his ruff. Thanks to Alexandra for the inspiring words – makes a change from jokes about anal and felching, plus it’s good to remind you all that we are a slimming blog under this crass exterior.

It’s an Instant Pot recipe, but can be easily adapted for cooking in the oven or in a slow cooker. We just use the Instant Pot as it allows us to cook everything quicker – and can heartily recommend it. You can buy the Instant Pot here, though it’s fairly pricey. Can’t be arsed to splash the cash? There’s a cheaper option too!

to make chicken caesar wraps you will need

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 4x BFree Multigrain Wrap (4x HeB)
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 60g parmesan, grated (2x HeA)
  • four handfuls of chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 60g wholemeal bread roll (8 syns)
  • 100ml light caesar dressing (3.5 syns)

To be honest, you’re not going to use all that dressing up, and we couldn’t fit all the bread croutons into four wraps, so up to you how you syn this. I’m just saying there’s a bit of leeway…

Looking for decent breasts? Of course you are. You can get bloody loads of them in our Musclefood freezer deal, together with mince, beef and bacon – the staples for any Slimming World diet. Click here for that deal!

to make chicken caesar wraps you should:

  • slice the bread roll into small cubes
  • lob into an actifry with a little bit of oil and cook for 5 minutes until you get crunchy croutons (if using the oven, bake in the oven at 180° for 15 minutes)
  • meanwhile, stir the garlic and onion powder into the chicken stock and mix well
  • place the chicken breasts in the pan and pour over the stock
  • seal and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes
  • when finished, release pressure by using ‘quick release’
  • pour away any excess liquid and shred the chicken using two forks
  • add the parmesan and caesar dressing, mix well and set aside
  • lay out a wrap and add the lettuce, chicken and croutons, leaving a 1″ border around the edge
  • fold over from the bottom and then the sides, and enjoy

If using a slow cooker instead of an Instant Pot, cook the chicken with the stock for 2-3 hours on high, or 4-5 on low.

You could cheerfully freeze the shredded chicken but the wraps, made up as instructed, won’t freeze well due to the lettuce. Booo. Fucking lettuce, ruins everything.

Want more recipes and examples of our potty mouth?

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By the way, it’s steak and blowjob day. If you’re looking for tips on how to drive a man wild and really treat his meat with all the attention it deserves, click here.

Bye! Off to cash in my chips!

J

ooey gooey Slimming World risotto cake

Here for the fabulous layered risotto cake? Listen, we’d expect nothing less. But fair warning, it’s a savoury cake, so calm your boobs. Like us, you want something gooey, starchy and warm in your mouth, and you know that we are the guys who will give it to you without questions. No-one can pretend that this is going to be super-healthy for you as a day to day meal, but it’s low in syns, full of flavour and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect family dish. But first…oui oui! Let’s head back to France, my loves!

click here for part one  | click here for part two

You may remember we’d had a rather drunken night in the hotel the night before? Well, we had booked a tour of the Paris Catacombs in a gin-soaked fit of YEAH FUCK WAITING IN LINES that would normally leave me hyperventilating with the extravagance. As we stepped out of the hotel a passing Frenchman asked if I had a light for a cigarette so I passed him my American Express card, which was smouldering like a spent match. We Ubered our way over to the catacombs entrance and were immediately glad of the fact we had booked a private tour – the queue was already out the door and away down the street.

Serious tip: if you’re planning a visit, pay the extra and get on a tour. I looked on TripAdvisor and lines of four to five hours are common, with the added bonus of the organisers shutting the catacombs without notice and making you queue all over again the next day. We paid about £140 through getyourguide (paying extra because it was last minute) but the ability to just turn up and go in was brilliant. I do think that it’s usually worth paying the extra for these things when you’re on a short break because your time is as valuable as your money.

We were met by our tour guide Ari, who I instantly recognised as the actor who played Philip Martin in Neighbours, who counted us in and explained we would see bits that others don’t get to see and that the whole thing would take about an hour and a half, capped off with the return to the summit up a tight, narrow and exceptionally steep staircase of eighty eight steps. Paul and I both gasped audibly at this point, causing the group to stare at us with utter disdain and the tour guide to radio ahead to have an ambulance on standby.

The tour involved lots of walking and staring at the neatly stacked bones of millions of dead French folk. Sounds awful, yes? It wasn’t, it was utterly fascinating. Knowing that these tunnels were build so long ago, in such cramped and awful conditions, and that there are literally hundreds of miles of them, was a sobering thought. Even I stopped cracking jokes when met with a pile of skulls and bones bigger than my house. There’s lots of hidden things too, such as a miniature hospital carved into the limestone and a facsimile of a seaport that some intrepid miner had created. Mind-boggling. You forget, and it’s really terribly sad, that all of these bones belonged to living people with families and jobs, and they’ve been interred beneath the city without a name or a memorial other than to have hundreds of thousands of tourists ignoring the no flash rule and photographing themselves pulling silly faces in front of a stack of legs. When I die I want to be stuffed and sat in a chair (in a tee-shirt covered in blood with IT WAS MAGS WITH A SHARPENED COCK-SHAPED SHAGALUF LIGHTER scrawled across it) at the local Slimming World class, a reminder to everyone that there’s bigger things to worry about than spending half a syn on a sausage.

I’m going to post a few pictures now, but do feel free to scroll on by. Spin that wheel quickly if bones creep you out.

“Wherever you go, death follows the body’s shadow”

To give you an idea of how cramped it can be – but it is far more open when you’re in the crypts. Well, you need space to stretch your legs when you’re dead.

To give you an idea of how tall this pile is, I’m 6ft 1″, and I took this on my tip-toes with my arms outstretched above my head. Think how many ‘people’ are in this photo alone.

Miles upon miles of bones stacked like this – beautiful, creepy and amazing all at once. Oh, and it was good of Paul’s mother to drop in:

“yer yer y’know Bejewelled 3 yer HOW de yer get credits yer yer WELL ‘E GOES ON ABOUT JIMMY FACKIN’ SAVILLE ALL THE TIME COUGH COUGH SPLUTTER COUGH”

We were joined briefly and awkwardly by some lovely but super-flighty woman who asked us a stream of random nonsense – were there tarantulas down here, did I think the air smelled funny, what do the bats eat? Paul made the fatal error of not looking at her blankly and gesturing to his ears to pretend he was deaf, and she was away, jolly-hockey-sticking about her holidays in Paris and her homes in Berkshire and all other such terribly interesting flimflam. I made as though I wanted to take a picture of a pile of skulls and disappeared to the back of the queue, where I was able to look at her high-heeled shoes with disdain. Who thinks that high-heels are just the ticket to wear to an underground crypt full of puddles and mud and cobbles? I could barely make the distance and I was wearing my usual Build-a-Bear shoes! I mistook the clattering of her shoes for some of the bones reanimating like the old Scotch video-tape adverts.

The tour lasted a good two hours and I have to confess, towards the end, I was beginning to wonder if it was a cruel joke and they were planning on leaving us down there. I don’t care who you are, you lose the ability to sincerely go ‘eeee never’ and ‘goodness’ at yet another pile of bones. I’m just being honest. Everyone was respectful but you could tell the mood was turning and it was with barely hidden relief that Ari told us we were at the end of the tour and freedom was that worrisome flight of stairs away. Paul and I loitered at the back so that no-one would be treated to my especially fragrant arse in their face as we ascended and fuck me, we nearly died. I know it’s not a terrific amount of stairs but it was steep and very, very tight, plus you can’t stop to admire the view / hyperventilate. Thankfully our group had spilled out onto the street and only a couple of eyebrows were raised at our beetroot faces and shaking legs. You’d think we’d escaped from Alcatraz via Ben Nevis – it was all I could do to pretend I was interested in some tatty nonsense in the gift shop whilst I desperately tried to replenish my oxygen levels. I know for next time: bring a spare tank of oxygen ‘just in case’.

We managed to get our breath back and our resting heartbeat back to its usual 166BPM after four hours and by that time we were bloody starving. Nothing sobers the mind about your health like a shocking burst of exercise and so we thought it only right to have a small side salad with our colossal pizza. Don’t worry, we’re not pigs, we left it. We had ducked into the first promising little bistro we came across and it’s only a slight exaggeration to tell you our pizza was the size of a conference room carpet. You know you’re in trouble when it takes eight waiters coming in like pallbearers to fetch your dinner. We sat and ate our quarter-tonne of dough whilst people watching, our favourite thing. Paris is so stylish, isn’t it? Even the roadsweepers looked graceful as he tried to brush a dog-shit into his little sweeper, leaving a cheery doughnut-smear on the path just by our table. I wish I could say it put us off our lunch but fuck it, you know we’re fat bastards.

We paid the bill, as ever unsure as to whether to leave a tip on the table or don’t tip at all because it’s rude to tip, so we settled on slipping the waiter a note (of money, I mean, not our phone number scrawled in lip-gloss with ‘we’ll be gentle’ underneath) as we left. We’re just so smooth. We wandered for a bit just to take in the scenery. Well, no, that’s what normal folks do, we however spent a good fifteen minutes trying to find a toilet so Paul could ‘drop the kids off’. He was, apparently, too embarrassed to ask where the lavatory was at lunch and so it was that, yet again, I found myself loitering outside an automatic toilet for longer than could ever be considered reasonable. This time, determined not to be arrested for being a sex pervert, I went off into a tiny little bakers and bought us both something gooey and delicious. Paul emerged a good while later, having deposited something gooey and absolutely not delicious, and was delighted to see I’d rewarded him for his foul behaviour by buying him a treat. I hope he’s not like a dog – I don’t want him stopping at every toilet we see thinking he’s going to get a tarte aux pomme for his trouble. Anyway, enough toilet talk (we’re just going through the motions!) (eh?).

We Ubered back across the city to visit the The Centre Pompidou, despairing as we arrived at the site of a colossal queue snaking around the building. Why? Why can’t WE be the only tourists visiting Paris? It seemed so unjust. We were about to move on when, seized by a combination of rashness and swollen ankles, I decided that we really just ought to queue. Paul was aghast, but I promised him an ice-cream when we were inside. As it happens, the queue moved quickly, not least because we were afforded the chance to snark on every single stereotype about drippy artsy-fartsy folk whilst we waited. See:

  • nobody wants to listen to you play two notes on a didgeridoo over and over and over whilst slapping the ground with your foot – that isn’t expressing yourself, it’s being an annoyance, and that’s why people were avoiding you;
  • nobody wants to see the black soles of your filthy feet whilst you walk around ‘being free’ and giving people flowers;
  • nobody is going to buy your bangles and trinkets, they look like fire-damaged electrical cord, you lunatic wench;
  • no, I don’t want to donate to your cause;
  • no, I don’t want to fill out a ‘survey’ where we’ll get to the end and you’ll ask me to donate anyway;
  • no, I don’t want to hear anything other than Paul reading the ice-cream menu aloud.

It was like this:

Anyway, after fourteen weeks of waiting, we were in the building. Paul got himself a Magnum and I had a prim bottle of water so I could sip it and look thoughtfully at the art. If only I’d grown my beard I could have stroked it in that bloody aggravating manner people have.

Now: I’m sorry. I know we’re going to sound like philistines. I know. But it was boring. There were some pieces of art that did jump out at me and I enjoyed having a gander at those, but personally, I found the mix of modern art (wank) and the more traditional pieces to be very tiring indeed. I know my faults and having very little interest in gallery art is one of them. There was an exhibition by Cy Twombly there that looked like something a troubled child might do with a box of Crayola and the threat of violence. I’m about as artistic as the stuff you bleed from a radiator but even I thought I’d do a better job with an Argos pen.  People were gazing at each painting and I felt like I was going mad – that I wasn’t seeing some revelatory twist to the paintings that everyone else was experiencing. One lady looked like she was about to come and all that was in front of her was a white canvas with some blue squiggles on it. I’ve never been more perplexed in my life. In fact, I was trying so hard to work it out that I bumped into Paul sending him stumbling over the little black tape on the floor which in turn set off an alarm and caused a very gruff security man to shout at us. A French couple, clearly sharing a moustache, spat at us as we left.

The view from outside, over the streets of Paris, was lovely, mind. Oh, and it was good of Paul’s mother to drop in:

“well ofcourse ‘e don’t fackin’ listen see yer yer I mean I’ve told ‘im and ‘e still goes on a-mean it’s not right yer hockle hockle phlegm yer”

There were two exceptions to the pile of wank, though. There was an installation of contemporary art from the old USSR which was interesting – I didn’t quite have an epiphany but at least I wasn’t scratching at the walls to be let out. Lots of hammers and sickles and people saying ‘but yes of course’ and ‘how daaaah-ring’. I nodded my way through. The other piece was a giant ultramarine painting by Yves Klein and I was only struck by that because I’d love a car in the same shade.

Hmmm yes, yes I see what the artist is trying to say: every man is an island, time is fleeting, don’t oversalt your pasta and the oppressive commercialisation of the modern age is terrifying.

We did give it a good try, though – we went into every exhibition, we read all the little wee leaflets, we tried not to look like thick Geordies abroad, but I’m guessing we failed. We stepped into a tiny cinema on the second floor which was screening a tiny arthouse movie. We took our seats and promptly fell asleep, our bodies glad of the chance to sit down and digest all that dough from earlier. We woke a good twenty minutes later when the bombast of the closing credits brought us round. We left, shame-faced, although I’m sure we’ll be listed on some tosser’s Tripadvisor report in no time at all: “My children, Persephone, Hedge-Fund and Hugo Chinnery-Pissflaps, were paaasitively screaming to watch the Hungaaaarian tilt-shift documentary on corn-growing but it was simply ruined by the two rubenesque leviathans farting and snoring in the corner. Can’t recommend”. Pfft.

Seems like a good point to leave it, actually. So much more to come! Remember, I’d truly love your feedback!


Anyway, you’re lucky to get a post at all – I’ve been playing Breath of the Wild pretty much non-stop since last Friday. Can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is. If you’re on the fence about getting a Nintendo Switch and/or this game, you need to get off and take action.

This recipe then: it’ll serve eight if you have it with a side-salad or four as a hearty bowl of yum. Customise it however you want – stuff it full of asbestos for all I mind – it’s just a fun way of presenting the food and also, perfect cold night fare. It lasts well in the fridge too so champion if you want it for lunch. Let’s do this! We found this recipe in a Sicilian cookbook which a friend bought and I coveted so badly I had to Amazon Prime Now it. We’ve adapted it for Slimming World. Oh, and it’s known as a rice timbale, but I much prefer an ooey-gooey risotto cake, and, as I’m the fat bugger in charge, that’s what we’re calling it. Although this does serve eight, I’m going to err on the side of fat caution and syn it as though it makes four servings, so you can have a canny big serving.

to make an ooey-gooey risotto cake, you’ll need:

  • 500g of arborio/risotto rice
  • two large onions, cut finely
  • two cloves of garlic (minced, using one of these bad-boys for speed)
  • 175ml of white wine (optional, leave it out if you want – if adding, add 1.5 syns per serving)
  • 500ml of good passata – don’t be tight, buy a decent brand – we used a passata with basil in for a bit of oomph, but you’re really looking for something made from cherry tomatoes where possible – though don’t shit the bed if you can’t find it
  • 900ml of chicken stock (or veggie) made up
  • 50g of fresh parmesan (10 syns)
  • 240g of light mozzarella (4 x HEA)
  • 600g of spinach
  • a jar of those big roasted red peppers (optional)

to make an ooey-gooey risotto cake, you should:

Think of this recipe as nothing more than making a risotto, taking it a wee bit further than you normally would when cooking it, then assembling it into a ‘cake’.

  • whack the oven onto 180 degrees and carefully line a cake tin (if you don’t have one, you could do this in a pyrex dish just as easy) – I used a square cake tin like this one but really, anything that’s deep and about 8 or 9 inches across (I’ve said that before) – we line our tins with greaseproof paper and a top tip, if you have some metal (NOT PLASTIC) bulldog clips to hand, use them to clip the paper in place once you’ve lined the tin
  • get a big heavy pan out (preferably non-stick) and gently fry off the onion and garlic in a few sprays of olive oil until they’re softened
  • chuck in the rice and allow to toast gently – couple of minutes at most until it crackles
  • if you’re using wine, throw it in at this point and allow to simmer off for a good three minutes (stir to make sure things don’t stick)
  • add the passata, pinch of black pepper, salt and two thirds of the stock
  • now the boring part – it’ll take about twenty to thirty minutes, but you want the mixture to bubble away on a medium heat with you stirring every now and then, topping it up with stock when the liquid gets low, until you have a nice thick risotto – remember, you want to bubble away past the point of normal risotto – you want a good ‘firm’ risotto – add in 40g of the parmesan, stir and set aside to cool
  • prepare your spinach by chucking it in another pan with a splash of boiling water – keep it on a medium heat but allow the steam to wilt the leaves right down – then sieve and chop it finely to remove as much liquid as you can and make sure you season with a bit of salt and pepper
  • assembly time: put half the risotto in the bottom of the cake tin, flatten it out the best you can, then top with the mozzarella (sliced, obviously), spinach and red peppers (they open up like a book) – don’t worry about neatness, just chuck it in any old way
  • put the rest of the risotto over the top, sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan, and cook in the oven for about twenty five minutes
  • once everything is lovely and golden and bubbling, remove and leave to stand for a good ten to fifteen minutes to firm up
  • dish up and fall in love!

Now, like I said earlier, customise this to your heart’s content. Change the risotto, change the filling, add more veg, add meat (cooked slice bacon would be lovely), use a different cheese. It would also look slightly prettier in a round cake tin rather than a square tin, but make do with whatever you’ve got. If it all slops apart, don’t worry, you’ve still got a delicious dinner! Keep some for lunch the next day. To sex it up, I’d add some chorizo to the risotto, but remember to syn it or your consultant will be farting through your letterbox.

Want more recipes? Of course you do. Click the buttons below and crack on!

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Enjoy!

J

PS: we’re currently changing the ‘share this buttons’ – so if you’re wondering where they’ve gone, just hold on, they’ll be back!

amazing Slimming World chicken satay stir-fry

Here for the best ever Slimming World chicken satay you’ll ever put in your mouth? Of course you are. But you know the drill by now. Grin and bear it. Push out, it’ll be easier.

Only a quick word from us tonight – I won’t lie to you, we’ve got a giant Ritter Sport from the local Lidl to get through and an episode of 24: Legacy to watch. I know, we’re so cosmopolitan. If it makes you feel any better Paul will be massaging and ped-egging my feet whilst we watch TV until it looks as though it’s been snowing on our black settee.

But, we couldn’t let you down, so we’ve GOT A MAN ROUND TO SATISFY YOU. And good God, look at his length! Yes, we’re leaving you in the very capable of hands of Big Dave who we will hand over to to provide tonight’s yak. If you want to contribute and get your blurb up here, send it in to us! I loved this entry, not least because I related so hard I almost had a mind-melt with the author. Also, please: we love feedback on our guest writers – I want to encourage those who want to tell a story to have a chance. Our next entry will be the next part of our France shenanigans, by the way….


a life of losing weight – by Dave

I have been on a diet since I was 5!  It was the School Nurse who started it. Her main duty was as Nit Nurse; “Nitty Norah – The Bug Explorer” they were universally named, and their job was to hunt out headlice. We did not have the BMI in those days and I don’t even remember having a weighing machine. She took one look at me, towering above the rest of Primary 1, dug out the three children hiding behind me and issued me with a letter to take home. It was just a folded piece of paper but I would no more have looked at it than I would have complained had Nitty Norah pulled hairs out by the roots. Which she did. I think she wanted more than one outcome for investigating the fat kid. Oh, wait a minute, we did not have “outcomes” in 1950’s health care so she must have been the sadistic old biddy we thought she was.

Letters were scarce in those days too, especially those scrawled in green crayon on a sheet torn from an exercise book (jotter to my Scottish fans) so my mother took it and clipped me round the ear as a note from school must be about bad behaviour, and proceeded to scrub my head with Derbac, and then crippled any surviving lice by tugging the nit comb through what hair remained. Of course I did not have nits but a note from a nurse warranted the full treatment. She then sat down with a fag and a cup of tea to read the note.

Without a word about the epistle, next day she accompanied me to school to find out the meaning of “David is obese”. Another thing about the 50’s was without the internet and with libraries being designed and run to keep the working classes AWAY from books the use of the term “obese” was surrounded in medical mystery. After having the diagnosis explained she was advised to make me drink a large glass of water before each meal and that would reduce my food intake. No advice about “healthy diet” or “calories” as these were only invented in the 60’s when we had “never had it so good”, in the words of our then Prime Minister, Harold McMillan. That was the era we abandoned vegetables that needed to be boiled for hours to have any prospect of successful mastication. Does anyone remember ‘woody carrots’?  Not a music hall performer but carrots had a core like firewood that did not respond to boiling.  We now had “Mother’s Pride, white sliced bread. Processed to rid it of all those Nasty nutrients. Better access to butter and cheese.  Money to be able to indulge in toasted tea cakes and milky coffee at Ibbotson the Baker and ice cream with red sauce at Meschia’s Ice Cream Shop.

The water trick might have worked for that shrivelled old stick Nitty Norah but not for a growing boy. Add to that mix, mother’s history of seven years in hospital with TB. Tuberculosis was seen as a disease of poverty, neglect and general poor parenting. None of those applied to my mum but the shame of TB was akin to that of AIDS in the 1990’s and as doctors always knew best any protestations were meaningless. So mum was determined her boys were not going to be hungry or dirty. Therefore the growing boy just continued to grow.

Another diagnosis of the time was the infliction that was “a phase”, so friends assured us it was just “puppy fat” that I would shed as I aged. “Phase” was applied to my chronic pain, sexuality, religion and move to Scotland, all of which I am still waiting to grow out of, 65 years on.

My next diet I undertook at 16 and 24 stone when I entered the world of work in a dairy laboratory , became friends with a fat girl and found everyone at work was on the magical Yoghurt Diet. Yoghurt was a new part of “having it so good”, it was also very sour to our tastebuds so it needed three spoons of sugar per pot to get it down. So the Yoghurt Diet failed. As did the next great discovery of the 70’s – the Grapefruit Diet. On that you ate what you wanted but provided you had a grapefruit that gobbled up all the fat. Grapefruit was really sour, four teaspoons of sugar.

It was around this time that calories made their way to the north of England in the form of the 1000 calorie diet. So everyone had a wee book in which one could look up the calories and try to assemble three meals and supper out of your 1000 calorie allowance. This time, with deprivation and starvation I shed 6 stone and the tailor-made lab coat that I wore everywhere to cover my bulk. It was WHITE, we still had not discovered how to hide fat with dark colours, vertical stripes and a coat worn open at the front to fool everyone into thinking you were only the width of the gap between the buttons.

I learned that only a dedicated masochist or catwalk model could keep to this diet. I think that must have been when the “Kleenex and Capstan Full Strength” diet was born so the weight went back on.

Over the ensuing years I followed “The Cabbage Soup diet”, “Canadian Air Force diet”, “Raw Egg and Milk diet”, “Atkins”, “Paleo”, “Caveman”, “GQ”, “Vogue” “Autotrader” etc., etc. ad nauseum. I have applied creams to cellulite, suffered hypnosis and acupuncture, worn electric pads, tight cords, rubber suits (no, hang on, that was fetish, not weight loss) but as it all comes under the heading of sadomasochism I am still counting it. It has all WORKED, I have lost the combined weight of everyone with the KY4 post code. And put it back on again!

Fast forward, or for fellow fatties – proceed at your best pace. Mine is on a pair of exercise pedals so I don’t get far, it is now 2016 and my latest cruise left me feeling hot and uncomfortable when squeezed into my penguin suit. As I am fairly immobile these days it is all to easy to have biscuits and coffee to alleviate boredom which, added to an activity log spanning Holly and Phil, through Judge Rinder, ending in a vigorous watching of the late night Holly City is not a recognised diet. I am well prepared for fluctuations because as a regular cruiser I have penguin suits in various sizes. In fact, my wardrobe goes from French flares to a Mumu. The various sizes allows me to glare with righteous indignation at other men in their DJs who claim they are still wearing the suit they bought for their wedding. They do not appear bothered by the fact that the trousers now fasten at the pubes and the bow tie is draped round an open neck shirt in the belief that they will resemble Hugh Grant while they perspire their way through the late night buffet.

So, time to shed the pounds and try to gain control of my blood sugar as my medication has crept up to 9 tablets a day yet without the required control. My brother had just lost four stone with Slimming World and his daughter also lost three. I was surprised when we enjoyed a cruise together at just how simple it seemed and how much he could eat. I had never been much for groups, particularly slimming clubs as I knew I was a fat frump and did not need to be shamed by the fact. That would DEmotivate me. But in the course of my work I met so many people who enthused about Slimming World. So in desperation, and in secret, I crept into the Kelty group. Having taken the step I did not want anyone to know in case they tried to undermine me, either by running down the idea of a group or of trying to feed me up. I am sure you have all experienced “on a diet? you don’t need to diet!” or “go on, I am sure you can allow yourself a treat!”, “you are on holiday, diet when you get home!”

I was immediately impressed that newbies met in a small group while the “losers” were getting weighed. Alun, our consultant, was a gift. So unassuming, engaging, encouraging (I won’t say much more as he blushes easily). There were four of us joined that night so we had a bond and at least knew a couple of names. I work with “group theory” so was very aware of how difficult it can be for new people to join an established group. No worries, everyone was friendly and encouraging and we had a laugh. Some nights we were almost sick with laughter. One particular group, one of ladies, late 70’s was dismayed the week she did not lose. “But I have been so good, I kept to the plan, I even had my legs waxed!”  Well it went from bad to worse, ribbing about how hairy her legs must have been if she was hoping it would  add to her weight loss, jokes about Brazilians, etc.  That became the pattern for groups, lots of fun, great support and regular activities to keep us connected. Inventive “quizzes ” about speed foods, super foods and syns, food tastings, awards and what SlimmingWorld group would be complete without “stickers”.

Alun has a wee army of half a dozen volunteers, each one just as cheerful, friendly and willing to share experience and give encouragement. They run the shop, do the memberships, records, weigh in and sell tickets for the weekly raffle. The raffle income provides for free tea and coffee and the raffle prize, always a selection of foods and equipment related to a SW recipe for the week. The pop up shop sells SW books, magazines and SW snack bars.

Alun is a frustrated showman. Every group is a performance as group members egg him on and always manage to find new ways embarrass him. It is all in good sport and no one is ever personal or cruel. This week he was trying to convey the message that when a woman is at a certain part of her menstrual cycle she may appear to retain or put on weight but will still lose over time.  This to a group of worldly wise women but with Alun trying to avoid saying period, menstruation, time of the month or cycle. We are all very fond of him and would like to adopt him 😉

So I started my journey ten weeks before Christmas at something over 20 stone. I managed to lose 22lbs in that time and have never eaten so well and so varied. I began to feel great, move better and get my blood sugar under control with only TWO tablets per day. So by the cruise leaving New Year’s Day my clothes were fitting comfortably. Now, cruise officianadoes will tel you that you can expect to put on one pound in weight for each night of the cruise.  So this was a seventeen night cruise – 17lbs on. When I got back I went to Group with a bit of foreboding as I had eaten so well on the cruise but as far as possible had kept to the SlimmingWorld plan. I lost a further 2lbs!  I tried my best to convince Alun that I should be credited with 19lbs the 2 I lost plus the 17 I did not put on. He might be charming but he is tough so I did not get more stickers.

So I have signed on for another 12 weeks. I am not far of my 2 stone and hope to pass 3 by April. So to anyone who is swithering I would totally endorse SW and say when you join, please, if you can, stay to Group. Many people just come to weigh in but Group helps keep you on track and in between meetings we have this Facebook group.


Thanks to Dave for that, even if he did give me a run for my money on the old word-count-a-meter – we don’t often get the male side of things mentioned when it comes to Slimming World. The magazine entries are always the same, full of charming young men who have lost 15 stone and are pictured holding their Farah slacks out in front of them with a ‘I SHIT YOU NOT’ expression on their face. Then invariably we’ll get the paragraph about it being daunting stepping in front of loads of women. Pfft. I walk into every class singing like Cilla at the start of Surprise Surprise. Articles for men usually involve some po-faced guide on checking your balls or sticking a finger up your arse to tickle your prostate and frankly, it’s hard enough to eat a Rocky Road Hifi bar without that streaky image in my mind.

Right, let’s do the recipe, shall we? I’ve seen chicken satay before done with sweetener and powdered peanut butter and I just think, why bother? Use proper ingredients, a few syns, and have a dish that is worth writing home about. You’re on a diet, not doing time for manslaughter. Enjoy your food!

Slimming World chicken satay

to make amazing Slimming World chicken satay stir fry you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (optional)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • handful of sliced spring onions

Time for a bit of promo: you can get so many big, plump, juicy chicken breasts in our various Musclefood deals! Take a look at our summer box – it’s got 24 ruddy breasts, bacon, sausages, mince, beef…all sorts, lovely and cheap!

for the seasoning

  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½tsp turmeric
  • ½tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (any will do – used Tikka)
  • ½tsp salt
  • ½tsp pepper

for the satay sauce

  • 2 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter (8 syns)
  • 2 tsp honey (2 syns)
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp rice vinegar (cider vinegar will do)
  • 1½ tbsp sriracha
  • 150ml light coconut milk (7.5 syns)

to make amazing Slimming World chicken satay stir fry you should:

  • tip the sliced chicken in a bowl and sprinkle over the bicarbonate of soda (it helps to tenderise it – it’s what the takeaways do!) and leave it to do it’s thang for 20 minutes
  • meanwhile, mix together in a bowl all of the ingredients for the seasoning and set aside
  • do the same in a separate bowl for the satay sauce and set aside
  • sprinkle over 2tsp of the seasoning mix over the chicken and mix it all in so the chicken is well coated
  • pour the rest of the seasoning mix in with the satay sauce, add 125ml of water and stir well
  • heat a large pan over a medium-high heat and add the onion and garlic, cook for a few minutes
  • add the chicken and stir fry until cooked
  • reduce the heat to medium and pour in the satay sauce and cook for another few minutes until it thickens
  • serve (rice is nice with it) and sprinkle on the spring onions

Enjoy. I mean, come on now, how easy was that? Want more things to do with your breasts? I understand. Click the buttons below!

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Mwah!

James, Paul and Dave

the best bbq pork sandwiches ever, I kid you not

Look at the sandwich. I mean, look at it. It’s amazing. Beautiful. I’d say epic but then I’d need to punch my own teeth down my throat because the word epic is shorthand for dickhead. But considering how easy it is to make and how tasty it is, you have no excuse NOT to make the best BBQ pork sandwiches ever. This is ‘junk food’ but done absolutely right.

But first, the always fragrant Chriss took up our challenge to write for the blog, and I include her entry below, not least because my wrists hurt from typing so much about France. Remember folks, if you want to write something for us, do get in touch – it’ll be your time to shine! Oh, for those in the South, a ‘mam’ is a mother.


times past by Chriss

I love reading the stories James tells about his childhood, mainly because they’re very similar to my memories of growing up in a little Northern town.

Some of my happiest memories are of time spent with family doing everyday stuff that I probably didn’t rate it at the time. Like walking down to the allotment my dad shared with my grandad and my uncles to ‘help’ with the weeding and play hide and seek with my cousins. My dad is one of 10 kids, so I had loads of cousins since each of dad’s siblings had 2,3 or 4 kids. Here’s an interesting fact for you; my mam met my dad when her sister married my dad’s brother!

My grandad was never short of ‘willing volunteers’ in the allotment on a Saturday afternoon. We would walk down there with my dad and if he had his homemade wheelbarrow (made from an old wooden pallet and some pram wheels) my 2 sisters would hitch a lift while me and my brother walked either side. When we got there we would sneak off and steal gooseberries or strawberries, or a nice stick of raw rhubarb while the ‘menfolk’ did all the hard work. I spent most of my time looking for ripe tomatoes in the greenhouse. My nanna and grandad were lovely. Grandad Pipe (my other grandad was Grandad Dredger) used to play trombone in a colliery band and was rode his pushbike to the allotment every day until he broke his ankle aged 82 and was told he had to give up his bike. He wasn’t happy about that. He had a really dry sense of humour, had time for everyone and never forgot our names even though there were dozens of us.

Nanna made the most amazing rhubarb and ginger jam. She always did a huge spread on Boxing Day for all the family which must have taken at least a week to prepare! On Saturday afternoons when we all descended on her house, she would send us down to the chippy at the bottom of the street for 4 bags of chips with scraps that she managed to share between us all, along with an endless supply of bread and butter for butties. It’s sad how families grow apart when they lose their central meeting point. I know we have to grow up and most of us are in contact through Facebook, but it’s not the same as the halcyon days at Nanna and Grandad’s house.


I enjoyed that trip down memory lane, not least because it’s unusual for me to have any sort of trip down any sort of lane without it ending with me bent over the bonnet of a Punto whilst a disinterested plumber tries to fluff himself to full-mast.

Thanks to Chriss for her contribution!

An unusually prescient entry too – I spent yesterday back in my old village where I grew up, wandering about and reminiscing myself. My mum always tells me off when I write about my childhood because I make it sound as though I grew up in a Dickensian workhouse, eating carpet lint and weeds to get by. WE WEREN’T THAT POOR, she cries, spluttering her words through the asbestosis she picked up working down t’pit.

If family are the ties that bind then surely the home is the anchor, keeping everyone together however far they drift away. Ties, whether familial, blood or friendly, link us to a past and give us a reason to return there, to indulge ourselves in some nostalgia and relive memories long since faded. Now, with my uncle dead as a doorpost, my very last link to the village disappears and I’m left with no other reason to go and visit a place I spent 17 years of my life.

Well, aside from needing a bit of fresh air.

So, with Paul at the gym and me not wanting to risk my see-sawing neckbones, I tramped around Horsley, the village where I grew up, for a good three hours. I started off following the path where I used to walk our useless dog – he’d run off if he heard a loud noise, and his idea of a loud noise was a gate crashing or a sheep baaing. See I must have walked that path about 700 times but I’d forgotten so much – the lovely view of the Tyne Valley, the fact you can’t put a foot down without stepping in some animal shit, the distressing reality that there were no less than three gates to climb over. Where I previously used to vault them with reasonable ease, now, with my considerable bulk and ageing joints, it was like someone trying to push a settee out of a second floor window. Elegant and graceful it was not. I pushed myself over and made to cross the A69.

Wandering down the lane back to the village brought memories anew – the time my sister and I, together with a friend who we cruelly nicknamed Beaky because of her overbite, got stuck in a treehouse because we were convinced there was a bull in the field below. We had another friend who we called Heinz and the fact I can’t explain the meaning on here should give you a slight indication as to how cruel the intent behind it was. Anyway, it wasn’t a bull and it wasn’t a treehouse – it was an old tent that we’d wrapped around a few branches so we could sit awkwardly for hours – and we were rescued by a farmer several hours later.

I know everything changes, but there’s comfort in familiarity, and seeing the two pubs standing relatively unchanged was pleasing. Until, at least, I realised that the top pub had been closed and was in the process of being turned into flats for busy-bee couples who would never know the thrill of asking what wine they had behind the bar and being met with a gruff reply of ‘WHITE OR RED’. My faint memory of the top pub involves cooking fresh and on-point back in 1957 and a carpet that looked like a magic-eye puzzle. The other pub offers fancy food, long drinks and, according to Tripadvisor at least, short shrift. Not my scene.

I took a moment to doubleback on myself and walked to the house where I grew up, but it didn’t look right. Different flowers in the garden, new paint on the walls. Where was the pond with the whirring pump that never worked properly, just occasionally spitting out water and/or going on fire? The log pile full of fuel for the coal fire that we had to light even in the height of summer if we wanted hot water (we had an immersion heater, but you’d think it ran on solid gold the way my parents reacted when they heard you flick it on) had gone too – replaced doubtless by fancy central heating. Yeah, instant heat is fine, but you can’t beat a proper coal fire – even if it does set the cat on fire when it sparks. I left when I spotted someone watching me with uncertainty from the top window. She had a cheek, that was MY bedroom, and I bet at least 80% of all available surface in that room still has my DNA splattered across it. Seriously, if she stood there ovulating for long enough, I’d become a father. I left, taking a moment to check if my buried treasure was still there.

Back in the car, with swollen ankles and heart pain that wasn’t completely related to exercise, I bootled off home. To my home, far away, with the certain knowledge that I’ll probably never step back into the village again. We quoted this when we talked about Peterborough and it remains a favourite of mine: “it is impossible to step into the same river twice”. How true.

Fuck me, that ended in an oddly melancholy way, didn’t it? LET’S TALK ABOUT PORK. Pork with sauce slathered on it and turned into the best bbq pork sandwiches you’ll ever bloody eat. Plus, the whole thing is a piece of piss to make.

We found this recipe at krumpli.co.uk and adapted it ever so slightly for our own tastes so all credit goes to them. They have some great recipes so go check them out!

best bbq pork sandwiches

to make the best bbq pork sandwiches ever you will need:

  • 1kg pork joint (all visible fat removed)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • a jar of sauerkraut
  • cocktail pickled onions
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 wholemeal rolls (4x HeXB)

Now, confession, we used the mixed seed rolls from Lidl because frankly, they’re nicer in a picture and taste better. If you’re wanting to stick to SW, make sure you serve these sandwiches in whatever bun you can have as a HEB. The bread isn’t the star of the meal anyway!

There, I’m sure that’ll stop the smart-arses going OMG U UZED RONG BUNN U FATT FUKIN KENT.


for the meat rub

  • ½tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • ½tbsp black pepper

Don’t fret if you don’t have everything here, it’s all about balance anyway.

for the sauce

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 100ml passata
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp black treacle (8 syns)
  • 1 tbsp mustard (1½ syns)
  • ¼tsp tabasco sauce

I’m synning this at two syns per sandwich, given you don’t eat all the sauce AND it makes enough for four massive sandwiches with plenty left over.

to make the best bbq pork sandwiches ever you should:

  • mix together all of the meat rub ingredients and rub into the meat – get right in there
  • wrap up or cover and leave in the fridge for four hours
  • heat a saucepan over a medium heat and add a few squirts of oil
  • add the onions to the pan and cook for about ten minutes, until slightly brown
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute
  • add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and cook until reduced by about a third
  • remove from the heat and allow to cool
  • pour the sauce mix over the pork joint and allow to sit for another hour but NOT in the fridge (you might want to cover it)
  • when ready, lift the pork out of the sauce and set aside on a plate

Pick a route – Instantpot (pressure cooker) or slow cooker. I know it goes without saying but we can’t recommend our Instant Pot enough – this is the fifth time we’ve used it and we bloody love it. It’s currently cheap on Amazon. But if you’re wanting a more slow roast of your meat and want a slow cooker, there’s also a cracking deal on those. Have a look!

For the Instant Pot:

  • add 100ml water to the sauce, stir and pour into the InstantPot
  • sit the trivet in the pan and place the pork on top
  • cook for about 27 minutes at high pressure, with a 10 minute natural pressure release
  • meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230°c
  • when the InstantPot has finished cooking and the pressure has been released, lift the pork off the trivet, place in a dish and cook in the oven for about ten minutes to help brown off the sauce
  • meanwhile, set the InstantPot to saute and cook the sauce so it’s reduced by half and thickened

For a slow cooker:

  • cook the pork in the sauce for a good four hours or so on high – you want it cooked through but not pulled pork level – easy to slice is what you’re after

Then, either way:

  • spread sauerkraut on the bottom half of each roll
  • when the pork is cooked, slice into thick slices and dip into the sauce, shaking off any excess
  • make up the sandwich by layering the pork with sliced red onion, picked onions and cucumber

Enjoy! I can’t tell you how bloody amazing this was. I know it’s a daft thing to say but if you don’t like cucumber or onion or whatever, just leave it out. Also, this makes enough for four MASSIVE sandwiches – you could easily make six or even eight normal sized ones! But none of us got to where we are by using half measures, eh…

Looking for more ideas of what to do with your pork? Oh you filthy mare. Click the buttons!

porksmall     slowcookersmalltastersmallsoupsmallbbqsmallonepot

J

caprese sausage stuffed pasta

It’s the return of the vag-pasta! Our caprese causage stuffed pasta makes good use of that weird shaped giant pasta!

Yeah that’s right, it’s a while since we used it and before I get anyone sending me frothy messages saying it’s not like a vagina, well, of course it’s not, but how many do you think I’ve seen in my life? Been there, done that, dry-heaved into my t-shirt. But see it’s what Paul calls this pasta so let’s just crack on with sausage caprese stuffed shells.

My goodness me. I opened the last post with a comment on the shitstorm surrounding this Porky Lights fiasco and here I see it has escalated into people appearing in the papers claiming they are devastated and had their diets ruined because the seven sausages they were eating for dinner might have had a slightly higher fat content than they expected. Listen, if you’re eating seven sausages in one sitting, you’ve got bigger fucking problems than a smidge more grease smacking on your lips. I work from home on a Friday so I was treated to even more hullabaloo from crinkle-faced mouthbreathers whingeing on. I think I’d rather be in the papers because I’ve been discovered wanking through a letterbox than holding up an over-done sausage the same shape as my downturned mouth and claiming my life was over. What happened to perspective?

OH and another bloody rant, if you don’t mind. If you drive and fiddle with your phone whilst you do so, then you’re an absolute and utter shit. A moron. A self-important, overly-entitled, preening cock. You’re a boil on society’s arsehole and everyone you come into contact with merely tolerates your presence. You’re about as liked as finding a hot streak of blood when you wipe your arse. If I saw you in the street I wouldn’t slap you, but it’s only because shit splatters.

The reason for my ire? Someone went into the back of me yesterday at a set of traffic lights (and I mean I’m used to having my crumple-zone pushed in from the rear, but at least buy a bloody drink first to grease the wheels) because he was BUSY PLAYING WITH HIS PHONE. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry – the good thing about being tall and fat with a shaved head is that when you come hurtling out of a car with a face full of piss and vinegar the other person tends to back down pretty sharp, and I’m bloody mortified now that I reacted so aggressively. I didn’t hit him, but a proper red mist descended (probably an aneurysm brought on by the shunt) and I called him all sorts of very naughty words in an unexpectedly manly Geordie accent.

To the bloke’s credit he admitted straight away he was on his phone and apologised profusely and our insurance people are sorting everything out but FOR CRYING OUT LOUD just pull over. No-one is important enough to think they should be allowed to break the bloody rules and I genuinely hope that if someone is sitting out there reading this and thinking there’s no harm in using your phone that the next stop you make in your car is a dead-stop into a wall. It takes a bloody moment or two to pull over and deal with whatever you need to do and that way you don’t become a MASSIVE PULSATING DISEASED TWAT.

AAAAAARGH. Get me back to bloody France man! Speaking of which…

click here for part one 

Smooth segue, eh! I’m the Astroglide of blogging. You left us at the airport after we’d just passed through security. We found our bags and made for the train station. Paul asked me why I was walking slowly and I explained that I was just bracing myself for his inevitable ‘landed in a strange place, must have a crap’ moment. He astounded me by informing me, with all the subtle discretion of a football manager shouting instructions to his team from across a pitch, that he’d been for a ‘tom tit on the plane’. He’s learning, folks. I’d anticipated having to spend at least fifteen minutes loitering outside the gents whilst he strained and grunted but nope – we were straight onto the train, then the Metro, then a short mince to our hotel.

Now, wasn’t this grand? The Hotel Square in Paris – 22 rooms and featured in the Luxury Small Hotels guide to boot. I’m not sure how easy it is to get in that book – maybe it’s one of those scams where anyone can pay to look prestigious – but the hotel was gorgeous. Very clean, very modern. Big room with a bed big enough to roll around in and eat croissants. The only thing I wasn’t so keen on was the bathroom, given it was a very grand marble affair with mirrors surrounding the shower area. I’m not shy with my body but even I pale at the sight of reflections of my hairy arse coming at me from all sides of infinity. Paul came in to pick up a toothbrush whilst I was freshening up and it was like eight hundred of him had walked in going “how long you going to be, turns out there’s another train waiting at the station ready for dispatch“.

Here’s a photo so you can see what I mean. How embarrassing though I managed to get my face into the shot! Eeee I can’t get over it!

We had planned a very quiet first day and so it was that the only thing on the agenda was an Escape The Room. You know we love these: you’re locked in some weird room with a scary backstory and given sixty minutes to get out before disaster strikes. In London you’re locked into an abandoned cinema. In Iceland you’re put away in a jail cell on death row. They’ve opened one in Dewsbury where they take away your swimming costume and push you into the base of a divan bed with only a box of Tramadol for company. It’s all terrifically exciting. This one, however, was by far and away the best. We Ubered (I don’t know if that’s a verb or not, and I don’t care – it’s easier than saying ‘took an Uber’) over to the venue and after much confusion, found our way in.

We were met by the lovely Lucas who told us, in broken English far better than my pidgin French, what the situation was. We were to be stuck inside an out-of-control Paris Metro and we had to stop it before it crashed. Exciting! What really did make this fun was that the room was an actual Metro carriage and, whilst it clearly wasn’t going all end-of-Speed on us, it did rock side to side and brake and move. It was amazing! I like to think Paul and I have these things nailed now and we know what to look for but we were defeated at the very last step by the fact we were both recovering from head-colds – part of the clue revolves around sniffing bottles to identify smells to work out an exit code. We were supposed to smell cherries – all I could smell was Parisian soot and Vicks Sinex. Lucas had the good grace not to mention the fact that every time I had bent down to pick up a clue a good thirty percent of my arse was on show thanks to my inability to pack a belt, though doubtless we’ll be on some French version of You’ve Been Framed somewhere accompanied by bouncy accordion music.

Ashamed of the fact we had failed in our duties (but buoyed by the fact it was bloody good fun) we wandered the streets until we realised we were both hungry and that we really ought to eat. Well, you know Paris – you can’t move without happening across somewhere delightful full of lovely things to eat (I don’t think there was a single point in the holiday where I wasn’t either stuffing my face with pastry or brushing the crumbs off my coat) and it took no time at all to spot a little cafe down by the Seine which looked busy and promising. We bustled in, Paul ensuring that his coat dragged across as many tables as possible and me knocking into chairs and tables and ankles like a lost bull. One day, just once, we’ll enter a restaurant without it looking like we’re there to fake an insurance claim.

Our waiter (curt tones, face like a hundred miles of rough road, eyes that had never known joy) came over and barked at us to order. Our French is poor but we do try, but by god he gave us no leeway for error. Every fumble was tutted at – not necessarily in a rude way, just it was clear that he didn’t have time for our stumblings because he had to go back to watching emo arthouse movies and smoking. We ordered a starter consisting of various Corsican meats and cheeses – we had loved Corsica so and, given it cost a billion pounds to go there last time making it unlikely we’ll revisit, this was an easy way of reliving some memories.

The waiter had no sooner seemed to disappear through the doors into the kitchen when he immediately re-appeared holding aloft a platters of meats and breads. He set them down, adjusted them just so, took a moment to think what was missing and then blurted ‘le fromage’ and disappeared anew. A minute or two later he returned with the cheese board and goodness me, It was a challenge and a half. I like a strong cheese but even I was defeated by two of the monstrosities on this plate. I’m not exaggerating even for a moment when I tell you that I was entirely convinced one of these cheeses was actually alive. I had to leave it. Our waiter, his face full of French woe, asked if anything was wrong, to which I gave a British ho-ho and explained that I hadn’t realised I’d ordered the pickled smegma fresh off the chef’s helmet. Spread it on my bread? It was all I could do not to hurl it into the traffic outside. The only thing that stopped me was knowing Paris is on a critical terror alert and I’d end up banged up in Guantanamo Bay with bamboo being slid up my urethra.

Paul, having experimented with a somewhat French dish as a starter, decided that was quite enough of that nonsense and ordered an Italian burger. I was mortified. At least I made an effort, I had a croque Madame so French it was smoking a Gauloise when it was dropped in my lap. I’m not shy of trying new things – snails I have no problem with (who would have thought, me, a pro at swallowing unpleasant mouthfuls) and I wasn’t going to bother with frogs’ legs. I’ve had them before and it was like eating the meat from the used toothpicks at the end of a group dinner.

I made the right choice, lunch was lovely, and we lingered over coffee whilst we people watched the good folk of Paris and (quelle surprise) half of China flit about in that hurried way I’ll never understand. I find it incredible that all of these people have places to live and sleep and shag and eat and work and play and yet everything works like a well-oiled machine. I adore cities, I find them endlessly fascinating, and I could merrily sit and watch all day long. However, the waiter, possibly tired of watching us make a Gin Fizz last half a day, brought us l’addition with a cheery ‘you pay now’. I didn’t dare refuse, the sight of his ashen-face crumpling in on itself would haunt me forever more.

We decided to rough it and take the Parisian underground back to the hotel, only we had no sooner made it down the stairs when a large chap (imagine Shadow from Gladiator only with milk for eyes and a diseased foot) hurtled towards us asking us to donate. Donate to what? The Burns Unit that would need to tend to my eyes as the sight of his crispy foot sizzled against my retinas? We bid a hasty (as hasty as two fat blokes can) retreat back up the stairs and sent for an Uber.

As ever, our driver was lovely, he handed us a bottle of water, pointed out as we dashed through that we were in the tunnel where the Queen Fiat-Unoed poor Diana out of existence and offered us some sweets. He also had the kindest, more soulful eyes I’ve ever seen and he had the good grace not to notice me winking salaciously at him in his rear-view mirror. I begged Paul to let me put ‘Drove like a pro and melted my heart’ on the Uber review but alas, that was dashed. Muhammad, if you ever want to take either of us, or both of us, or a bit of one and some of the other, up a one-way street, do get in touch.

As we were knackered, we decided to have an early night and a few drinks in the room. I say a few drinks, it was rather impromptu – I went for an after sex decontamination shower only to hear the sound of Paul opening the minibar. Uh-oh. Worse, I barely had time to wash the Molton Brown out of my bumcrack before I heard the hiss of a bottle of fancy water being uncapped. I vaulted out of that shower like I was the winning horse at the Grand National and hurtled into the bedroom shouting EUROS ITS BLOODY FIFTEEN EUROS PAUL FIFTEEEEEEN like a man possessed. Paul explained he was thirsty but pfft, I’m Geordie. I didn’t speak to him for the rest of the holiday.

No, I jest. Once we had broken the seal of that minibar, the whole lot came out. We had a great night indeed, mini bottles of alcohol scattered everywhere, peanut crumbs in the bed, eye masks on, condoms blown up like water bombs in the bath. We sent down for another cheese board at 11pm to cap the night off and then away to bed with us.

When we woke the next morning, we were horrified. We tidied up until that room was sparkling like a new pin and stumbled out into the light. I wanted to throw myself over the desk of the charming lady on reception and wail je suis désolé! pardonne-moi je t’en supplie! in the hope she might take a dent off the minibar tab but all I could manage in reality was a gruff, Phil Mitchell-esque good morning and a couple of black peppercorn scented farts in the lift.

I’ll leave you to digest that image and get straight to the next recipe, eh?


caprese sausage stuffed pasta caprese sausage stuffed pasta

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you will need:

  • 6 sausages (we used the ones from our Musclefood deal – they’re just half a syn each AND they come with the added bonus of not being stockpiled by jibbering morons!)
  • ½tsp fennel seeds
  • 500g conchiglioni (you know the ones – the GIANT  pasta shells)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • few handfuls of spinach
  • 4 tbsp chopped basil
  • 140g reduced fat mozzarella ball, chopped (2x HEA)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • balsamic glaze (just reduce some balsamic vinegar in a pan, easy peasy)

If you’re using different sausages, remember to syn them however they are. Technically this dish comes in at just less than a syn each, actually, so hoy a bit extra cheese on. I’ll not tell Mags, though she’ll be too busy hammering nails into the Porky Light farmer’s tractors to give a toss.

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you should:

  • preheat the oven to 190ºc
  • spread half of one tin of chopped tomatoes across the bottom of a 9×13″ pyrex dish, or any, I don’t care
  • cook the giant shells according to the instructions, and then drain and set aside
  • meanwhile, slice the sausages as best you can (it doesn’t have to be neat) and then cut each slice into quarters
  • add some oil to a large frying pan and stick over a medium high heat
  • add the sausages and stir to cook until no pink meat remains – give them a chop up with the spatula to break it up, or gently press a masher over the top
  • add the rest of the chopped tomatoes, the spinach and half of the chopped basil and cook for about five minutes
  • remove the pan from the heat, and spoon in 1 tbsp the mixture into each of the shells and pop them into the pyrex dish
  • top with the mozzarella and sliced tomatoes and bake for twenty minutes
  • remove from the oven, top with the remaining basil and drizzle over the balsamic glaze

After some more grub? just click one of the buttons below to get even more ideas!

porksmallfakeawayssmall pastasmall sausagessmall   onepot

J

half a syn black pepper steak stir fry

Here for the black pepper steak stir fry? Well hold your water.

Porky Light anyone? Mahaha. My facebook is awash – nay, alight – with posts about the fact that it looks like those delicious Slimming World half syn sausages called Porky Lights might be 4.5 syns as opposed to 0.5 syns. You know what? GOOD. It’ll serve all those folks right who went out to ASDA and bought pallets of the bloody things as though each sausage came with £100 and half an hour of cunnilingus from a man with three tongues. That isn’t forward planning, that isn’t taking advantage, it’s sheer bloody greed, and the way they paraded their hauls like it was something to be proud of just made my teeth itch. Of course there’s the odd reason to legitimately bulk-buy (perhaps you live far from a supermarket) but doing it just because you saw some other immoderate slattern stockpiling makes you an absolute arse. So yeah: boo bloody hoo. I just hope the next revelation is that Fibre One bars give folks a Tom Selleck moustache and tits like two fighting ferrets. I can’t stand bloody greed.

Anyway, hiiiiiiiiii. How the hell are you? You’ve literally never looked better. Have you been away? No? Well, given we have more holidays per Thomas Cook, we have been away on our second holiday of the year. Remember this?

Our first holiday was a few weeks ago but I didn’t take my iPad with me, so I’ve got long handwritten notes to type up. I know, I’m so old school. I feel like Angela Lansbury tip-tapping my way at the keyboard! So let’s pretend this holiday is the first one and the first holiday will be the second holiday, and so on. I know, I don’t understand it either. So: take a seat and enjoy the first entry of our holiday in gay Paris.

Well, it certainly fucking was when we minced off the plane, anyway…

Paris, then. Why Paris? Because, like Billie Piper, we want to. Actually, that’s a lie right from the off – when I first suggested a lovely romantic weekend in Paris Paul shot me down with protestations of how rude everyone is and how we’re simply not cultured enough to get by, as though my idea of sophistication is being fingered in a bus-shelter by the sea. Which is a cheek, because I know some lovely shelters with some beautiful views. Tsk. I talked him round by reminding him that there’s delicious pastry everywhere and good food is the law.

I’ve been to Paris several times over with mates and have done the usual suspects – Arc de Triumphe, Eiffel Tower, four million art galleries, being tutted at by all and sundry, and so we were keen to avoid going over old ground, though we’d revisit a couple of the classics because why not.

We drove up to Edinburgh Airport, stayed overnight in the Ibis Budget Hotel by the airport and took the early morning easyJet (7.00am) flight down to Charles de Gaulle. We stayed for three nights in a deluxe room at the 5* rated Hotel Square, a ten minute theatrical flounce from the Eiffel Tower and pretty much almost in the Seine.

The days before our trip were filled with weather angst, as the news became increasingly full of grim warnings of massive storms and the ridiculously hyperbolic weatherbomb. Weatherbomb for goodness sake. That sounds like a crap movie you’d get on the SyFy channel. The Daily Mail took a break from demonising the poor, gays, ethnic minorities and Jeremy Corbyn to froth at the gash about travel disruption, impassable roads and widespread mayhem.

Naturally I managed to work myself in such a tizzy that I was allowed to leave work early (they were probably sick of me standing looking mournfully out of the window like a sailor’s widow gazing at the sea) in the hope of being able to leave Newcastle before dark, imagining some frozen tundra we’d need to navigate like Nanook of the fucking North just to get to Edinburgh Airport, where we’d doubtless find planes dropping from the skies like snow.

Well. Does it surprise you to know that the most eventful incident to hit our travels was Paul spilling an entire bag of Poppets over the floor of my car? The roads were clear, the wind mild, snow nowhere to be seen. Dolly was literally a storm in a teacup and I was furious to be swept up in the hysteria.

We arrived at the Ibis Budget Hotel in good time after a brief but exhilariting accidental turn onto the Edinburgh Tramline – Paul had to wrest controls from my hand as I was too busy doing Alan Bradley jokes to realise what had happened. In my defence they really ought to make the big red light a bit bigger. I mean, honestly. We were checked in by a scarily efficient and pleasant chap who pressed the room card into my hand with slightly more touching that I’d expect and then we were off to the room, a vending machine Toblerone clutched in our sweaty hands.

It turned out that Paul, for reasons entirely unbeknownst to either of us, had booked us into a hotel room with a tiny main bed and a bunkbed over the top. I was terrified, not least because he hurled his not insignificant frame into it like one would leap from a burning building. I’ve made the joke about metal screaming before but honestly, it sounded like when the Titanic snapped.

The glamour!

Once we’d had holiday shenanigans (normal anal but you use Piz Buin rather than lube) Paul retired to the bed above. Well. That was it. No chance of a good  sleep when I have the sure and certain knowledge that at any second Paul’s ample gut would prove too much for the fixtures sending him, and the metal bed, cascading down onto my head.

As it happens, we did survive the night (obviously: imagine if this was part of my last will and testament), though by the time Paul climbed back down the screws of the bed had been pressed into diamonds. We tidied up, took as many small towels as we could fit under my coat and stole away into the clear, crisp morning. Storm Dolly my big, windswept arse.

For once we were experimenting with not turning up at the airport eight years before we were due to fly, and what a difference. There was no sitting around in a Wetherspoons smiling wanly at stag do knobheads, nor did we need eight toilet visits just to pass the time. I did get stopped at security for a pat-down by a big, burly, bearded Scottish brute. He rubbed my legs, my thighs, my arms and my shoulders. Once he was satisfied I wasn’t smuggling anything but a throbbing erection, he let me go. I promised to call but you know how holiday romances are. Paul, meanwhile, was struggling with our carry-on, the passports, my iPad, his belt and shoes and my giant coat. He’s a dear.

Due to Doris causing havoc the day before, our flight was full and we were encouraged to check our carry-on into the hood in exchange for speedy boarding, which we duly did. I like to think we have a nice gold star for being “helpful, polite” on our easyjet profile. It’ll be next to the cholesterol soaked heart for “fat bastards, ensure sitting next to skinny woman”. Speedy boarding was smashing though, I couldn’t believe the speed and efficiency that we descended fifteen steps and then stood packed into the boarding stairs for twenty minutes.

Nothing to say about our easyjet flight, you know how much we love them and this flight was no different. I’ve never met a member of easyjet staff who haven’t been wonderfully polite and helpful. As a bonus, I went for a wee mid flight only to stand next to the pilot – outside the loo I mean, he wasn’t letting me shake his drips off for him (this isn’t Emirates, you know). The guy looked about sixteen, I almost went over the tannoy to ask if someone had lost a child. I’ve never felt so old. He must have been a boy racer though because we landed in Paris twenty minutes ahead of schedule with a landing as smooth as the pilot’s face.

Our good spirits at successfully surviving another plane journey were soon dashed by the snaking queue at immigration. Almost four hundred people waiting to dash into France and put sticky fingers all over their shiny art and culture and what do they have? One very bored, very angry young man checking each passport individually. One person. One. A queue to enter a house fire would have moved quicker. After eighteen years we finally reached the front and the cheerless arse made a big point of looking at my passport photo, then at me, then back to my passport, then to my face again, then to a watercolour approximation that was being painted of me whilst I stood there, then back at my face. I tried to explain that since joining the queue I’d celebrated two birthdays and grown a ZZ-Top beard but that was hardly my fault, but my French failed me. Paul had a similar experience – I wanted to apologise for bringing such beauty to his world but the security guard had a gun and I like my lungs unperforated.


Now, that seems like a good enough place as any to leave it, I think. I’m prone to waffle for too long on our holiday entries so I’m trying to be a bit more concise. You’ll notice, of course, that I’ve spent 1,600 words and we’re not even through security yet. Ah well. Do you have somewhere you need to be? This black pepper steak stir fry makes enough for four, served with rice! Yum.

to make black pepper steak stir fry you will need:

  • 400g beef strips (beef chunks will do – just slice in half)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced

for the marinade

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (cider vinegar will do!)
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce

for the sauce

  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt

for the stir fry

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Don’t like your fingers smelling like a shoe? Then mince your ginger and garlic using a fine microplane grater and live like a queen – remember you don’t need to peel your garlic or ginger when you’ve got one of these, and it’s so cheap too!

to make black pepper beef stir fry you should:

  • mix together the marinade ingredients, pour over the beef, mix and marinade in the fridge for fifteen minutes
  • meanwhile, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl
  • in another bowl, mix together the onion, yellow and green peppers
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium high heat and add a few sprays of oil
  • add the beef and let it sear for 1 minute, then start to stir until both sides are browned but it’s still pink in the middle
  • reduce the heat to medium and transfer the beef to a plate – set aside
  • add a bit more oil to the pan and chuck in the onions and peppers and stir, cook for a couple of minutes
  • tip the vegetables onto a plate and set aside
  • add a bit more oil to the pan and add the ginger and garlic, give a quick stir and then add the sauce mixture and stir continuously, allow it to come to the boil and keep stirring to make sure there aren’t any lumps
  • add the beef and vegetables and give a good stir
  • serve – rice is good, noodles would work well too
  • sprinkle over the spring onions

Done! How easy was that eh? Remember you get beef strips in our Musclefood deal which you can use here – have a look, it’s a great set of deals and you get chicken and beef and sausages and oh my to go with it.

Looking for even more recipe ideas? Click the buttons – especially the Fakeaways button – below!

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Enjoy!

J

lemon and garlic chicken

Lemon and garlic chicken if you don’t mind! Sorry that you’ve had two Instant Pot recipes on the bounce, but well, it’s a new gadget and we have to make a fuss about it. Remember though, we’ve included a non-pressure cooker recipe to go with it. I have to say I’m impressed – my memories of a pressure cooker involve my nana making marmalade in something that looked like a Dr Who villain whistling away on the job just itching to explode. I remind you she was tone deaf and this model was made long before such trivialities as a safety valve existed.

I used to be sitting doing a jigsaw with her and you’d know you only had a few minutes before certain death because the table would be shaking and jittering as a result of the build-up in the kitchen. I mean Christ, the whole thing could have gone kaboom and I doubt, save for the eight kilos of seville marmalade splattered around the room, she would have even noticed: might have registered as a light tut on that NHS hearing aid of hers. Bless.

Anyway, before we get to the recipe, can you remember last year when we asked for guest writers to come onboard (it’s OK, I’ll put a towel down) and rattle off some words on whatever topic they wanted? It was a great success – I get sick of reading my own nonsense, trust me – and we’re running it again this year. If you’re interested in writing for the blog, and please, don’t be shy – everyone has a story in their head and this is a good chance to let it out – get in touch. Leave me a comment below and I’ll get back to you. Worried you’re not funny? Don’t be. Don’t have to be. Write what you want!

Our first guest writer is Dixie Normous – boom boom – and she would like to talk to you about stupidity. Please: I’m a leathery old fucker who can take abuse and threats against me, but please be nice to our guest writers who may not have the unblinking confidence that I exude from every open pore. Over to Dixie…


Stupidity

When you die you don’t feel anything. The pain is felt by those around you. The same thing applies when you are stupid. Normally I don’t cope well with dumb people. But we all know that one person who isn’t stupid but just comes out with that odd gem that makes everyone stop and look at them before laughing so hard they all snort. Take my sister-in-law (please). She’s a smart kid, but fuck ME she comes out with some dumb shit. One of her particular classics was when she described Bedlam as ‘where Jesus was born’. The wheel is spinning but the hamster is dead.

At work we have a board on the wall that is covered with dumb shit that people in the office come out with. One of mine is up there when, following a proper shit meeting with a customer where I ended up giving them not only the partridge but the bastarding pear tree too, I came out with the immortal “why do I feel like we just got done at both ends?”

The internet also has a board for dumbaases. It’s called Twitter. Anyone who is anyone will have seen JK Rowling making mincemeat out of that slimy knobcheese Piers Morgan, and she’s bloody clever with it. But sadly, most people are not. I wanted to share something which someone tweeted to me yesterday.

I had been at the football. PNE had drawn at Wigan and it was a crap game. After the game I went to check Twitter and some Wigan fan who was giving it the big one at my mate spotted my profile picture (which was me on my horse) and goes “is that horse ok with you on its back you fat fuck?!” I penned a huge, articulate response (well as much as your tweet allowance dictates) about how he was so unoriginal bla bla bla but then the Devil in me came out and I deleted it and simply wrote “No. I ate it.” He didn’t reply.

Just goes to show “stupid is as stupid does”. Bet he had a cock like a flea bite.

Dixie Normous


See? It’s not just me who can make poison come out of the keys like soap through a sponge! Big thanks to Dixie Normous – round of applause please, if your hands don’t look like potted beef from all the fucking clapping at class.

It may not surprise you to know that I get into a lot of online arguments myself. I can spend many a happy hour puncturing the enthusiasm of some Juiceplus Scammer, pointing out that they’re not selling a miracle drug and living the dream of a billionaire, they’re peddling shite multivitamins and eating store-brand Cheerios in their soiled pyjamas like the best of them.

Anyway, I once got into a particularly vitriolic argument way back when in the day when The X-Files was a big thing. His name was Shepherd (now come on) and he looked like the little scrote in the Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler video, only this bellend’s dreadlocks were matted with flies, semen and dirty. He argued with me because I didn’t want Mulder and Scully to get together (Noromo for life, fuckers!) and here’s the freaky part – he called my house phone late at night to argue with me. I was 15! He was a fully grown adult who was thankfully in the US – I imagine if there hadn’t been the Atlantic between us my face would have been made into a tasteful lampshade by now. I had to call BT and have him blocked before my poor mother picked up the phone to hear some loon shouting REYES HAD NOTHING ON SCULLY NOTHING YOU C*NT at her. She’d only think it was my nana on the Aldi sherry again.

So yes: careful who you argue with.

Can’t pretend this is our own recipe, so full credit goes to predominantelypaleo.com – we’ve adjusted the recipe a bit to make it suitable for Slimming World! I know lemon and garlic chicken may not sound right but trust me, it makes a thick, tangy sauce that you’ll love on your breasts. Actually, we used boneless thighs – thought we’d mix it up a bit. Worked like a charm! Makes enough for four. Yeah that’s right.

to make lemon and garlic chicken you will need

  • 500g-1kg chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 185ml chicken stock
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • juice from one lemon
  • 4 tsp cornflour (2 syns)

Three things:

to make lemon and garlic chicken you should:

  • switch the instant pot to saute, add a bit of oil and chuck in the onions, cook for about 5-10 minutes or so until they start to brown
  • add everything else to the pot minus the cornflour, and give a good, gentle stir
  • put the lid on, make sure the vent is set to ‘sealing’ and press the ‘poultry’ button – it should cook for fifteen minutes at high pressure
  • when finished, allow it to either release pressure naturally or use the ‘quick release’ (we did the latter because we couldn’t wait)
  • use a mug or a small pot to scoop out a small amount of liquid and stir in the cornflour
  • remove the chicken from the pot (tongs are best for this), stir in the cornflour mix and whisk or stir until thickened
  • serve! We had rice, topped with a couple of chicken thighs and then spooned over some sauce – lovely!

if you don’t have a pressure cooker – you can do this on the hob, just follow the same instructions as above but use 225ml of chicken stock, and cook in the oven at 190 degrees for 2 hours. Two hours you cry? No I know, but better the chicken is cooked, see. Don’t want you having the splatters do we!

Looking for more things to stick your chicken in? I can’t blame you. More recipes below, as ever.

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J

 

instant pot pork and sweet potato chilli con carne

Here for the pork and sweet potato chilli? Then read on!

We have a new gadget! We have bought ourselves an Instant Pot, which is simply a fancy pressure cooker that also does slow cooking, rice and yoghurt, amongst other things. Pressure cooking allows you to cook things a lot quicker whilst retaining the moisture and is perfect for chillis. Currently, if you were looking at one, they’re reduced to £95 on Amazon.

Good news: just because we’ve bought one (and highly recommend) doesn’t mean you’ll need to buy one. We’ll always give you a non pressure-cooker method too. I can’t stand it when blogs start doing recipes just to shill products and frankly, we ain’t that type of blog. We don’t accept bungs for bollocks, unless they’re the sort slapping off our chin.

We are, however, a travel and food blog, and because we’re gearing up for our many holidays this year, I’m taking the opportunity to tie off a few loose ends from last year – posting the bits we forgot to post and so on. Newcomers to the blog – we often post these massive entries detailing where we’ve been and we’re told that they are hilarious. So blog entries aren’t normally quite this long…to that end, here’s part five of our trip to Cornwall last year.

twochubbycubs go to Cornwall – part five

part one | part two | part three: Land’s End | part four

I wish I could pretend things improved with Cornwall, but they didn’t. Disappointment, rudeness and expense lurked around every corner. Don’t get me wrong, there were some charming people and pleasant vistas, absolutely, but it didn’t compensate for my growing sense of rage. This is evidenced by the fact that my notebook, where I usually write down my thoughts of the day and which in turn gets turned into these blog entries, consists of page after page of angry faces and lots of instances of the word ‘bah’. Because of this, I’m going to break with tradition and just do a summary post of all the other scraps of our Cornwall trip that I can’t bring myself to put into flowing narrative.

Padstow

We love Rick Stein – he’s a cheeky-faced cooking wonder and we watch everything he’s in whenever he’s on the telly. I could listen to him describing Russian phone-box repair and still feel a quiver of excitement. It’s not some weird daddy-fetish, he’s just wonderful. With that in mind, Padstow seemed like an obvious place to spend a fresh Spring morning.

Nope. First of all, I’ve never seen so many Audis, BMWs and Mercedes cars in one place. Secondly, same sentence again but replace cars with braying Jigsaw-wearing idiots. We parked up – eventually – took a stroll around the quaint ten-a-penny tea-shops, the lovely seen-it-all-before craft shops and the ‘oh I get it, it’s Seahouses but for people with a buy-to-let portfolio’ restaurants. It left me cold. I don’t think I have an inferiority complex – I’m not worthy of one – but the sense of snootiness and unbridled tra-la-laing wasn’t for me.

We decided that, as we didn’t stand a chance of a walk-in appointment at any of his fabulous restaurants, we’d treat ourselves to fish and chips from Rick Stein’s fish and chip shop. Naturally, it was all very to-do, but fair play, it was delicious. We ate them on the harbour and it was only their deliciousness that saved me from pitching forward into the sea to end my misery. Though, just saying, I can get a pizza, kebab wrap, large chips, can of pop (oh how I hate that), salad, curry sauce AND pot of pink up here for the same price I paid for one fish and chips down there. That said, Rick’s chips didn’t come with a side hockle of phlegm like the ones round here do.

We left, disappointed.

Newquay

…and I thought Padstow has bad. Sweet Jesus. I’m sure Newquay is fabulous in the summer when you can get a tan to go with your stab wounds but in the pissing rain on a cold afternoon, good heavens no. I’ve seen grim working towns – I went through Sunderland once on the train – but this takes the biscuit. If you’re from Newquay and someone is reading this to you please don’t get yourself in a fuss (think of your invariably high blood pressure); I’m sure the bit where you live is lovely and I’m just being a horrendous snob.

We should have known not to trouble ourselves with Newquay at all when we parked up only to have someone offer to look after our car ‘for a reasonable fee’. I was tempted to enquire what this service would get me and what the possible repercussions of failing to take it up where but his yellow tooth frightened me and so we moved on. We found another car park a little further down and set out for adventure.

We found none. We walked to the beach only to be met with sea fret and the smell of fish. I can absolutely see why it would be just so in the summer, however, so please don’t think it’s all bad. We climbed to what I assumed was the main street only to be met with what is increasingly becoming a sad, common sight in the United Kingdom – a row of bookmakers, discount stores and charity shops. I would have been made up if I had wanted to bet on a horse and buy myself a cardigan someone had died in back in 1977. There was a shop nestled at the end called Fat Willy’s which did tickle me (they often do), but it sold surf supplies and there isn’t enough lycra in the world to make me look good on a surfboard.

We decided to try our luck in the bright lights and glitz of the amusement arcade next door. I’ve looked it up on Google Street View and it doesn’t seem to have a name. I presume that’s because they don’t want people on the internet revealing what a massive bloody swizz it is. My nana had more grip in her arthritic fingers than the bloody claw machines in here. I spent four pounds trying to win a Luigi plushie only to give up when I realised I’d have more chance winning the fucking thing if the machine wasn’t switched on. I’m all for a competitive edge but Christ, give us the faintest glimmer of hope, eh?

Things turned nastier still when two girls, both seemingly sharing the same set of teeth, started following us around making eyes at our pocketful of jingling change. You know when you get that feeling that something isn’t right and you’re either about to end up on The Real Hustle or Silent Witness? That was one of those moments. Paul nudged in a set of cherries and I could see sheer avariciousness in their eyes. I clutched my murse theatrically to my side and we made a quick escape.

I know it’s a weird thing to get vexed about but these places are for children, surely? Why not let them have some fun and win a toy without prising £20 out of their parents’ wallet? Why must every other coin be glued down on the coin-pusher or fruit machine rigged to pay out on the twelfth of never? Another tiny example of grasping UK. Pfft.

We spent another forty minutes looking around the shops before both deciding that we’d given it a chance and were justified in going home, despite paying for four hours of parking. Oh, and as a final point, if you were the woman serving us in the little pasty shop on the corner, a bloody smile goes a long way. I felt as though I’d made a mortal enemy for having the check to order two lamb and mint pasties. You know when someone gives you a look of hatred that chills you to the core? That’s what we got as thanks for our custom (and before anyone says it, I’m always unfailingly polite when I order, no matter how poor my afternoon is going). Brilliant. I wouldn’t have minded so much but even the bloody pasties were awful – I’ve had morning farts with more taste to them.

We left, disappointed.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

We kept seeing signs for this place as we beetled about and knew nothing about it. We didn’t bother to research and when, on the fourth day, I loudly exclaimed that we should go to Heligan, Paul simply replied ‘What, Newquay?’ – kaboomtish.

Once we’ve stitched up our sides and located the Lost Gardens of Heligan in the Sat-Nav (so they’re not that lost, just saying) we were on our way, and it felt like no time at all until we were pulling up aside a Saga coach tour. It was fortunate that these elderly day-trippers were so slight as it made pushing them out of the way of the entrance all the more easier.

Oh I’m kidding, before anyone rings Age UK. They were still stumbling off the bus by the time Paul and I had completed a full lap of the grounds and got back in the car.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are, according to the sweaty nerds at Wikipedia, one of the most popular botanical gardens in the UK. They were bought by a fancy sort back in the 16th century and immediately divided into lots of lovely sections, such as a ‘jungle’ and a rhododendron garden. The moment I spotted that on a sign I burst into ‘I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden’ until Paul saw fit to stick twigs in his ears to stop me. Poor sport. Anyway, the gardens fell into disrepair until they were restored in the early twentieth centuries, and now, here in modern times, they’re only a reasonable entrance charge away.

Now let me tell you this: I have been miserable throughout these Cornish entries. Nothing has managed to make my heart soar or my eyes sparkle. There’s barely been a moment where I haven’t been thinking longingly about the five holiday days I’d used up at work to take this trip. But these gardens were amazing.

I’m not exactly sure what pleased me so much – it was just a garden, after all, albeit a massive one split over many acres – but it was terrific. For a start, it didn’t cost the Earth. I’d become so accustomed to handing over wads of notes that it was a pleasant surprise to be told it was a very reasonable £13.50. Then there was so much to see and do – everything clearly laid out and mapped in the little handbook they give you. We spent hours just drifting from scene to scene – we had literally stopped to smell the roses and it worked a treat with cheering us up.

It helped that we had the place mostly to ourselves, save for the odd walking group and gaggle of tourists trampling in the flowers. This meant we had time to read the excellent information boards and talk to the staff, who I’m sure would have rather we left them be so they could crack on with the gardening. I can prove that we at least absorbed one fact: Heligan remains the only place in the UK that grows pineapples – albeit very small ones – in horse poo. Fascinating stuff! Along similar lines, Lands’ End in Cornwall is the only place in the UK where you can spend over £20 and get absolutely fuck all back for your money. What a time to be alive!

We took ourselves down to the animal area and sat for a good half hour watching birds from the little lookout they’ve installed then wandered gingerly down the very steep slope to the ponds. We spotted that somewhere amidst all the flowers and trees there was a rope bridge and so we spent a good twenty minutes hunting that out, managing to miss it twice despite it being signposted.

Well, goodness me. Didn’t we look a sight. I’m sure folks far more light-footed than me could trip over this bridge with dainty steps but when we both lumbered on the metal shrieked and the rope audibly stretched. I couldn’t relax, waiting as I was for a loud TWAAAANG sending us plummeting to the pond below. I say plummeting, we were six foot in the air, but come on, dramatic licence. As the bridge had sagged quite considerably under us it became quite a chore to pull ourselves up to the other side, a situation not helped by some red-faced little urchin crying out that he wanted a go. This was tough. Luckily, Cornwall Fire and Rescue came to our aid only forty minutes later.

Nah I’m kidding, we made it across, but we were bloody knackered. Of course, we’d also forgotten that the steep slopes coming down which once seemed to fun and hilarious to slide down would become an awful slog going back up. We took our time but it was with a shameful amount of huffing and puffing that we had to stop twice on the way up. To cap off our embarrassment, we were overtaken by a woman pushing herself along in an off-road wheelchair up the hill. I felt so ashamed.

We finished our afternoon by having a mince around the forest, where lots of giant curiosities were hidden. I came across a large hand deep in the undergrowth, which wouldn’t be the first time. Paul was taken by surprise by an erection poking out of the bush, which wouldn’t be the first time either. It really was wonderful and it was with a big genuine smile that I declined the offer of annual membership as we left. Perhaps if you dug it up and put it somewhere south of Hexham, I’d consider it.

We did stop by the farm shop with an eye to buying a range of meats and cheeses but the prices of everything in there sharp put paid to that idea. Listen, I’m not averse to slapping down the cash for good food, but these prices were little more than a tourist trap. I asked for the price of a small wedge of Little Stinky only to be told it was more than a tenner. I leant over and whispered confidentially that ‘I only want to buy the cheese, not rent the cow’ but her stern, weathered face was having none of my japery.

We left, disappointed.

But only at the farm shop – the actual gardens themselves were an absolute treat and I can wholeheartedly and without reservation recommend a trip.

Honourable mentions:

Mevagissey Model Railway – we loved this. It was like falling into Roy Cropper’s wet dream. There was more than a hint of foist about the place but the owner was knowledgeable and welcoming and it was very much a ‘British’ piece of entertainment. Well worth a visit, although I wouldn’t pencil out a whole afternoon for it.

Lappa Valley Railway – we turned up, decreed it far too expensive (although looking right now on the website it seems a lot cheaper, so best not write it off in case I was just having a mild aneurysm or something) and cleared off. I do still get a tickle from the fact they have an event called a ‘Steam and Cream’ for the over sixties. I thought most trainspotters just jizzed straight into the same quilt they’ve had since they were 14?

The Chapel Porth Hedgehog – I can forgive the National Trust for charging me to visit a beach when I’m presented with an ice-cream like the Chapel Forth Hedgehog. For those wot div not knaa this is Cornish ice-cream which is then smothered in clotted cream and them dipped in honey-roasted hazelnuts. It’s served with a warm smile and fifteen minutes of CPR. Bloody amazing. Beach was nice too.

Overall

If you’re reading this entry and feeling apocalyptic that I’ve dismissed Cornwall as an awful place full of chintz and nonsense and bloody rude people, please, take a moment. There’s no need to be so quick to anger. Holidays are unique to everyone and I just didn’t ‘feel’ Cornwall. I can see its many merits mind – I like the fact that the air feels crisp, for one. The views are wonderful but as I’ve previously touched upon, I live in what I believe to be the most beautiful county in all of the United Kingdom – Northumberland. I have beauty on my doorstep.

Remember, opinions are like arseholes – everyone has one. It’s just unfortunate that I’ve made a hobby out of talking out of mine.


Gosh – that was a long one, wasn’t it? Did you enjoy it? Please do give me feedback on these holiday entries – I know they’re lengthy but it’s the thing I enjoy writing the most! Let’s get to the pork and sweet potato chilli though without another moment of hesitation.

to make pork and sweet potato chilli you will need:

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 400g pinto beans
  • 300g sweet potato, cut into small chunks

to make pork and sweet potato chilli you should:

Instant Pot method

  • press the ‘saute’ button, add a bit of oil and then add the onion and red pepper
  • cook for about three minutes until softened
  • next, add the pork mince and stir to break it up and ensure it cooks evenly
  • after a minute add the chilii powder, cumin, oregano and garlic and stir
  • add the tomatoes, pinto beans (with water) and the sweet potato and stir until well combined
  • ensure the vent is set to ‘sealing’ and cook on high pressure for ten minutes

Bog standard in the oven job method:

  • saute off the onion and pepper in a deep heavy pan until soft and lovely
  • add the pork mince and stir to make sure it is broken up and cooked evenly
  • after a minute add the chilii powder, cumin, oregano and garlic and stir
  • add the tomatoes, pinto beans (with water) and the sweet potato and stir until well combined
  • cook in the oven for a good hour or two – low and slow – or bubble away on the hob for 40 minutes, making sure it doesn’t catch

Serve with rice! Simple, honest dinner! Can’t get vexed.

Looking for more recipe ideas? But of course!

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Enjoy!

J