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

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!

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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