Paul here – just to let you saucepots know that we have had the absolute pleasure to appear on a special bonus episode of ‘The Secret World of Slimming Clubs’ podcast! You can listen to it right now on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Click on their mushes below to go straight to their Facebook page, and don’t forget to tell them we sent you! And also while you’re there don’t forget to subscribe – you’ll get a fabulous episode every week full of the trials and tribulations of a weigh-in class and it’s an absolute hoot! Put a towel down first, mind, because you will piss yourself.
The Secret World of Slimming Clubs
In other news – we’ve been really busy working on our book so ever so sorry that we’ve been quiet. The good news is it’s nearly done and on-track to be coming out for the New Year and we can’t wait for you to see it! If you haven’t got your greasy paws on one yet you can preorder from Amazon, or if you’re feeling particularly fancy you can also preorder a special, limited SIGNED copy from Waterstones! Ooh, get you!
Click here to preorder our new cookbook!
Thanks to all of you for sticking with us and allowing us to cram our shite into your eyeballs every so often, it means a lot to us. We really hope you like our cookbook and it helps you on your way. We’ll be back to posting on here more regularly as soon as we can but also (hopefully) we’ll working on another cookbook for you so if you have any ideas of what you want to see, tell us in the comments below. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, don’t forget we’ve already got 600+ recipes for you ready to go, just click here to go to the index!
Part two of our Hamburg trip coming up on the next post, but first, a new recipe for all of you out there sat with an Actifry and wanting some inspiration. Just to be clear, this is a sponsored post (in that we get paid oodles of delicious money to post a recipe) but as usual, it doesn’t change our recommendations or suggestions. Regular readers will know we’ve been recommending the Actifry for years now, so it’s not as though we’re just doing it for the money. We work hard for the money. So hard for the money.
Quick detour first (because it’s us!) – we’re just back from the most fabulous wedding of a very close friend and some brass he picked up in Wolverhampton. I’m joking, her name is Sarah, she’s gorgeous, and her Band of Gold years have long since passed her by. She works hard for the money, so hard for the money. You may recollect we don’t have good form with weddings – we fell asleep for the entirety of our last-but-one, and the last wedding ended up with us being interrupted in flagrante by a burst of Gina G. The last thing you need when you’re at Billy Mill roundabout is her caterwauling away about wanting a little bit more. Don’t we all love.
It was a fantastic time though. I usually prefer to solemnity and cheer of a good funeral (plus black is terribly slimming on the husky gentleman) but this wedding won me over: anything with a six course meal and a room full of rugby players will tend to do that to me. I kept being mistaken for the groom: not an insult by any stretch given that he’s six foot of muscle, beard, twinkling eyes and has buttocks like the Mitchell Brothers hugging in a storm. That came to a head when I woke up next to his wife and she was pre-emptively piddling on a pregnancy test. Unless that baby comes out high-kicking its legs and wearing a sash, it isn’t mine.
Finally, does anyone know whether it is actually true that if you stand up and say something – even as a joke – during the service, they have to stop and wait for thirty days? I was itching to stand up and explain that the groom and I had been having a long, passionate affair punctuated by moments of brutal tenderness, but I didn’t want to upset the bride / my husband / my readership.
Anyway, enough of that. Let’s get to the sponsored bit. Actifry have asked us to take part in their second spin class, where you spin the wheel, choose a recipe from their (genuinely very good) app and make it for our adoring public. We were happy to oblige, and thankfully, the wheel finally landed on a recipe that was easy to adapt for our slimming audience. These wee salmon and dill croquettes are a doddle to make in the Actifry, but even if you don’t want one, whack them in the oven instead. We won’t tell. We served these with some leftover yoghurt mixed with tartare sauce and a load of capers because we’re fancy (and want the space in the cupboard back). Let’s get to it!
I’ll say this though. We’ve been using our Actifry for years, mainly for chips because: obesity, but it’s genuinely our favourite kitchen gadget we own. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, with minimal fuss. It doesn’t leave your kitchen stinking of fat and it’s easy to keep clean, given all but the base can go in the dishwasher. It’s like the antithesis of Paul. There’s plenty of cheaper alternatives out there but – and mind this is rare because we’re usually all about not needing to spend money to eat well – this is worth spending your money on, even if you get a smaller or older model. Buy cheap, buy twice, and plus I’ve seen the clip of some of the models you can get in B&M and it looks like someone’s parked a coke-ravaged R2D2 on your worktop. Nobody wants that, now do they?
One of the easiest, tastiest recipes we've done with our Actifry in a long, long time! Simply measure out your ingredients, mix, shape, bread and cook! Easy! We're putting this at 2 syns for four fat croquettes but actually, it's probably a lot less than that as you won't use all of the breadcrumbs when you're coating your croquettes.
The original recipe called for making the croquettes entirely with breadcrumbs but to bring them in line with Slimming World, we added leftover mashed potato. Enjoy!
Mix up the amount of ingredients - as long as you end up with a thick, claggy dough, you're fine!
320g chopped salmon
120g leftover mash
60g fat-free yoghurt
50g panko (9 syns)
two tablespoons of dill
if your Actifry has a setting, preheat it
throw everything bar the panko into a mixing bowl and mix mix mix until you get a good thick dough
spray the Actifry with a little oil
shape the croquettes in your hand and then roll in salt-and-pepper-mixed panko
take the paddle out of the Actifry and place the croquettes in
cook for about fifteen minutes until they firm up, and then pop the paddle in
cook for another ten minutes or so until browned and crunchy
serve with whatever you want - we mixed tartare sauce with yoghurt and capers
Looking for something more to do with your Actifry? Sure!
Hiyaaaaaa! Urgh, stop. Before we get to the super-quick chicken kebab wraps, I’ve got a tale to spin to you. It involves Germany, and it’s a holiday post. If you’re here for the recipe, click the heart below and it’ll dash you straight there. Otherwise, settle in – it’s a long one, but you can take it. Meanwhile, cookbook coming along lovely, thank you: we’re now locked in and ready to go! You can pre-order it here.
Goodness, it’s been a while since I rattled out a holiday post – not because we haven’t been gallivanting, mind you, I’m always working on my suntanned wattle – but it’s been an age since I could sit and type something other than recipes. This holiday post takes us all to Hamburg and is unusual in that I’m combining two separate trips into one. The first time we went was back in April courtesy of srprs.me (more on that later) and I booked the second one in one of my atypical ‘go fuck yourself’ huffs. Some people spend days poring over brochures and cooing at hotels.com before they pick their next adventure – with me, you just need to wait until someone cuts me up on a roundabout or I stub my toe on the settee and I’m straight onto easyjet.com filling in my API with rage-a-tremble fingers.
This trip was our fourth with srprs.me – a simple concept where you pay a travel agent a discreet sum of money and they book you a holiday somewhere exciting and wonderful. You don’t find out until you’re at the airport, where you scratch off a scratchcard, enter a code on their website and find out your gate number and destination. It’s all terrifically exciting and indeed, we videoed our last reveal in the hope of sharing it with you all. However, the 4am start and general rattiness of me being at Newcastle Airport betrayed us and when our destination of Malaga was revealed, I announced ‘for fucks sake, fucking MALAGA’ and promptly knocked my coffee over with that touch of the dramatic I know you all love. In my defence, I was confusing it with some super-rough beach resort that I vaguely remembered seeing on those 90s reality shows like Fingerblasts Uncovered where walking flesh-envelopes of fake-tan spilled Blue WKD into their nethers and gurned to camera.
It was actually a superb place, since I mention it. But no, this trip was to Hamburg, and quite honestly, I knew nothing about the place other than it was in Germany and sounded delicious. A quick google reveals some interesting details: it has one of the largest seaports in the world (I shan’t make an awash with seamen joke), the most bridges of any global city and, every three months, hosts the Hamburger Dom.
Coincidentally, on my second trip, so did I.
It was the trip to the airport on the second trip that bears discussion, so we’ll start there and from now on, I’m just going to flit between the two without further clarification. Our flight was 6.45pm from Manchester Airport and, after a fitful morning, we set away at 12 noon, planning on stopping for lunch somewhere fancy en-route. Six hours to travel 180 miles of motorway – even in a Smart car laden with two fat blokes – surely no problem?
So you’d think. But every single citizen of the United Kingdom had clearly decided to go out for a leisurely crash of their cars at precisely 12.01 and what should have been a simple, uncomplicated jaunt became a nailbiting exercise in clock-watching, screaming myself hoarse at the backs of lorries and listening to Paul’s music. It was the last part that almost finished me off – I’d promised not to say one word about his music in exchange for him doing the long drive (I was tired from having my hair cut) and my god, in all honesty, wrenching the steering wheel from him and swerving us under an Iceland articulated lorry has never been so tempting. So much sad guitar chords and female warbling. The only thing that stopped me was the indignity of being cut out of the wreckage of a Smart car whilst chewing my way through a Sara Lee gateaux that had wedged itself up my arse.
The gates closed promptly at 6.15pm and I’ve seen enough sweaty-jowled businessmen being shouted at on Airline to know easyjet are merciless with their deadlines. For years I’ve watched that programme taking sweet satisfaction from families being denied their holidays or some person missing out on a liver transplant because they’d parked too far away to make check-in, but now I was at risk of missing out, I was manic. We threw our keys at the meet and greet parking people, apologising profusely at 200mph for being in a rush, and sprinted through fast-track security and the departures lounge.
I say sprinted. I don’t sprint. I’ve got good long legs that allow me to move with purpose and my general size and my face all-a-tittylip means people will get out of my face with minimal need for cursing under my breath and punching old folks to the ground. Paul, on the other hand, moves with all the urgency of a man selecting a slice of toast for a weekend breakfast, and I grew ever more furious with him as he delicately tip-toed around folks and ‘ever-so-sorry’ allowed people to get in front. Things came crashing to a head as he slipped over on an incline and fell fat on his face with an almighty moo.
I am, I admit, a terrible person. An awful husband, a cruel lover and a heartless soul. I burst out laughing. My weakness, if you ever need to make me laugh, are random jerky movements and people falling over and hurting themselves. Others watch stand-up, I watch You’ve Been Framed with a smirk and a semi. We didn’t have time to spare so he picked himself up, looked at me with a face that made it clear I’d have to spend twenty minutes later making pained expressions of fake remorse, and off we went. We made it to the gate with one whole minute to spare, according to his now heavily-scuffed smart-watch.
Thank god we made it though, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the subsequent twenty-five minutes of standing at the gate peering at our plane and wondering why we couldn’t get on. That was never explained, though it did give me plenty of time to smile coquettishly and have a mutual eye-wank with a lovely German bear a couple of steps down the queue. Ah, German men. There’s something so alluring about an accent that sounds like they’re coughing up gravel even when they’re “whispering sweet nothings” into the back of your neck.
Our flights were uneventful – prompt, comfortable and with minimal fuss – though my trip was made all the more comfortable by the four gins I downed, ignoring the fact that the bill came to more than I’d paid for our flight ticket. We’re on holiday, such extravagance is to be encouraged. Clearly easyJet has its knockers – she served me the drinks – but damn I love them. We landed, breezed through security in that almost effortless manner we currently enjoy thanks to being part of a fantastic union of shared responsibilities and agreed border processes – what absolute melt would begrudge that – and then we managed about four hundred meters before we sat down and had a sandwich.
See, there’s another reason why we love Germany. So. Many. Sandwiches. I know they all come from the same processing plant and have probably sat there so long you could escape from prison using the bread as a file, but I care not: they’re delicious. It’s like living in a sandwich buffet and I’m all for it. My choice was a sandwich with so much smoked cheese and ham in it that I had to call for special assistance just to lift my fat-ass back out of the seat. My apologies, I should really call him by his first name, Paul.
Paul’s sandwich had an entire section of Lidl pressed into it:
The German public transport system is another joy, once you get around the fact the map looks like a Michael Bay action thriller where some sap has to cut just the right wire to defuse a bomb. I’m sure it’s easy to follow and indeed, after forty minutes sweating, crying and deciphering the beast we managed, we were on our way, but jeez does it make you realise how shit our system is. We’ve got two lines on our Metro system in Newcastle and trains that still have George Stephenson in the cab. But mustn’t grumble: you pay £5.20 to be told by a pleasant soothing voice that the trains are delayed and you can expect to arrive three stops short by the summer equinox.
The hotel that srprs.me had chosen was a delight – the Hotel Jufa, down on the docks. Ostensibly a ‘maritime’ hotel, though the lack of filthy-handed sailors was a disappointment, it was full of ships to play on and curious little tchotchkes alluding to the port. That’s all well and good, but I’m not Alex Polizzi (there was a PUUUUBE, DAAAARLING) (hi Adam) and there’s no need to review the hotel here save to tell you the three most important facts:
the breakfast buffet was plentiful, varied and everything fabulous about a German breakfast;
the room had decent air-conditioning and none of those silly double mattresses which are two normal mattresses zipped together – very important when you’re our combined weight and turning over in your sleep means both beds careering to either end of the room; and
it had a homophobic shower. Seriously, hoteliers, sort your shit out so I can sort mine. Mind, I made the most of it…
Hotel done, we’ll switch to the various activities we took part in – no chronological order, mind you, this isn’t Sherlock.
The Saw Escape Room by EscapeDiem
You know how much we love escape rooms, yes? It had been a while since Original Flavour Paul and I had done one and well, what extra level of tension could having all the instructions in German add?
Turns out, a lot. But: what a fantastic room. Based on the Saw movies, you start off in the bathroom from the movies – filthy toilet (and yep, you need to put your hand in) and all. Clever tricks abound – heat sensitive paints, heartbeat locks, false rooms…all marvellous. Then the twist halfway through: you had to go inside the walls. There was a tiny vent to crawl through – now I’m not claustrophobic so I was generally fine with that – but then you had to loop back over yourself and climb up. They’d built a multi-level maze in the walls in the almost pitch black.
Scary, but doable, yes? Well think of me for a second – I was lodged in a wall, barely able to move, with Paul – all many, many stone of him – perched right above me with only a thin sheet of plywood holding him up. It wasn’t Jigsaw or being stuck I was scared of but rather being reduced to atom-wide jam by the weight of the clumsiest fucker alive crashing down on me. It actually felt like a Saw movie, especially when I slashed Paul’s throat for getting the combination wrong at the end. Lolz – caught up in the moment wasn’t I! We escaped the room with a couple of minutes to go and our already strained marriage in tatters.
A museum devoted to life in miniature: sounds deadly dull, but it was bloody brilliant. Tonnes and tonnes of teensy-tiny recreations of cities with working trains and tiny interactive models: we loved it. Me for the sheer mechanics and level of detail, Paul because he actually felt like a normal sized human for once. I galloped through like Glumdalclitch’s daddy, Paul went tip-toeing through the roses, letting himself into the matchbox-sized houses and taking a breath on a bench made from four cocktail sticks and a pin.
He’s not even that short, you know, but it makes a change from the fat jokes. Poor Paul, I love him really.
It was fun though: I’m all for an exhibit where there’s buttons to press and this place was awash with them. For example, you pressed a button and a tiny version of a concert started playing, complete with miniature lighting rigs and hundreds of wee humans bobbing to the beat. There was a scale version of Hamburg Airport with planes taking off (disappearing neatly behind a curtain of cloud) (cotton wool) and if you pressed the button and waited, a UFO would touch down. I mean, haway! If that was the UK, each exhibition would have an out of order sign and the only buttons you could press would be on the chip-and-pin machine as you paid your £44 entrance fee.
Actually, the UK was represented with a tiny version of London, replete with lots of top-hat wearing guards and a ding-donging Big Ben. Newcastle wasn’t featured, which was a shame, because I’d have loved to have pressed a button and seen Gemma-Marie, Marie-Marie and Lisa-Marie rolling around pulling each other’s hair in a puddle of their own foamy piss. As I said, the attention to detail was really quite terrific.
Now, honestly, we’re almost at 2000 words. Let’s cut it short there and come back another day.
You came for the quick and easy chicken kebab wraps, didn’t you? Who could blame you? We’ve seen loads of hot-takes on our recipe for chicken doner kebabs, but this is the easiest one yet. Inspiration came from quite genuinely the best fast food we’ve ever had, pushed down into our gullets at 4am on a crisp Hamburg morning. Because I was drunk and a walking horn at this point, it was a case of finding anywhere that was open, dispensed food and was staffed by sultry looking men with a kebab shaver. Wasn’t hard to come across one, though we did have to pretend it was raita when a customer came in. This is something that takes no time to throw together – you could probably make a marinade yourself with lots of ingredients but honestly, pick one of these sauces up for 60p and hoy it in the cupboard for when you just can’t be arsed.
We've done wraps so many times over, and make no apology for it. If you're controlled and sensible you can keep a load of wraps in the freezer and defrost as needed - then chuck any old shite in there. The sweet raita is what makes this dish though - don't be afraid to get it made. This makes loads - freeze any leftover meat! Enjoy our chicken kebab wraps!
For the wraps:
whatever wraps SW have decreed syn-free as your healthy extra
five chicken thighs
one packet of Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli & Garlic Stir Fry Sauce (10 syns)
one small red onion
one small white cabbage
half a cucumber (if you're looking for something to do with the other half, pop it up your blurter)
For the sweet raita:
250g fat free greek yoghurt
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp mint sauce
pinch of salt
dice up your chicken thighs into very small chunks - doesn't need to be uniform, but go nice and small
marinate the chopped thighs in the sauce and leave as long as you like
when it's time to eat, tip the marinated chicken into a hot pan and cook it quickly - keep stirring so it doesn't stick, but you want the sauce to get nice and sticky
whilst that's cooking, shred your cabbage, thinly slice the onion and chop your cucumber
make your wraps by adding a slick of raita to the wrap, add your meat, chopped veg and wrap away!
speed this up by using shop-bought raita
this makes enough for four big wraps with plenty of chicken left over - you can freeze the chicken once cooked
we served ours in a folded up naan bread, but we don't count our syns with bread
if you have some time, pop the sliced onion and cabbage in a bowl with some vinegar for twenty minutes - it'll soften the cabbage and take the sting from the onion - just rinse everything off before you serve
Cheesy pea soup sounds revolting, and what better way to open a blog entry about food than with that line? I know, we’re awful, we took a month off to concentrate on a few things – most notably for me (it’s always me, James, who writes the blog) was half-heartedly walking away from a career in law, only to be tempted back in with the promise of working from home one day a week and condensing all my hours into one day in the office. Well, as someone who likes to sit at home and pick his bum, how could I refuse? It gives me a bit more time to write the cookbook and ogle at our gardener. Speaking of cookbook…
It’s been a sad day near Chubby Towers with the passing of one of our neighbours. It’s inevitable, yes, when the average resident took their pension before the Boer War, but still, nobody likes to see a private ambulance trundling into the street early in the morning, do they? Especially when they park in my parking spot, but I didn’t think it was the time to cause a fuss. I’ll send a parking fine later with some white lilies. It did cause a slight moment of discomfiture when I realised I knew the name of the lady who had passed, but not her husband. The only time he’s ever talked to me was to ask me to remove my Vote Jeremy Corbyn sign, which to be fair to him I’d only put up to be mischievous given we live in a sea of Tory voters. You have no idea how much I want to put a pole up and hang a BEAR PRIDE flag up, if only so we get a few confused questions from the less enlightened. There’s one neighbour on the street who I hope to tempt over to the dark side and literally nailing my colours to the mast might just do it. Me going out in stretched hot-pants and wearing a permanently surprised look hasn’t done it yet.
Anyway. Not knowing the name only became an issue when it came to sending a Deepest Sympathy card. How do you address such a sensitive card when you don’t know the name of the recipient – it’s not like I can do my usual name-fudge and pop ‘soz she’s popped off, Chief‘ on the envelope, is it? In the end, after much agonising, I put ‘Sorry for your loss’ on the card (which seems incredibly disingenuous, as though the poor chap has mislaid his car keys or dropped a bank card down the drain) and signed it ‘Love James and Paul’, which I also immediately regretted because it looked piss-taking. Least I didn’t stick a xoxo on there. Sympathy and human emotion is just too much hard work. In retrospect, signing the card in glittery silver Sharpie probably wasn’t the most elegant move either, but look, it’s all I had to hand. I live in a very camp house.
I can’t imagine we’ll be invited to the funeral.
Which frankly, is a shame: I look splendid in black and I’m all for a wake buffet. Hell, we accidentally gatecrashed a wake in Oslo and only realised our error when we were shooed out by some hurly-burly bearded Norwegian whilst we filled our pockets from the koldtbord. Honestly, the grieving can be so touchy. Only been to three funerals in my time. My nana’s was a particular highlight: both Paul and I suffer from nervous laughter and even though I was genuinely distraught, the absurd sight of her coffin right in front of me whilst the entire church lurched through the eight-hundredth verse of All Things Bright And Beautiful really tickled me. Half of the congregation was made up of her equally elderly friends who were all on the last double-digit breaths of their life – I’m surprised we didn’t lose any. Plus, despite being 31 years old at the time, I still guffawed when the lavender crowd burst out in raptures about the purple headed mountain. Me too, loves. The vicar kept getting her name wrong too, which added an air of tension between the sobs – she didn’t even look like a Norman. I bit so much of my cheek that I can stay lying on my front when Paul wants a blowie.
It has got me thinking about what I want when I die. No fancy funeral, big coffin, lots of jewels – none of that. Nope, sell off all my chintz and bibelots, stuff me full of fireworks and pop a pipe cleaner somewhere indecent as a fuse and then push me out to sea. I want people to remember me how I lived – damp, colourful and usually on fire. No fake solemnity, no wailing, no dabbing daintily at your eyes whilst you remember times past. It’s an open invite to you all that, should you read in the paper of me dying in some tawdry fashion (it’s more inevitable than you can imagine), you can all come to the service. Just make sure you stop by Iceland first because fuck me, it’s going to have to be a good buffet.
What might not make it onto the buffet is this cheesy pea soup, which is a bloody shame because considering how quick it was to make, the fact it is syn free and actually tastes bloody good, it doesn’t deserve to be betrayed by the fact it looks like something Grotbags would cough into a handkerchief. Please, give it a go, and if you don’t like it I’ll take a personal responsibility for your loss. Hell, I might even send you a With Sympathies card. Written in silver Sharpie, natch. Snatch.
There's no way I can make that look appetising and for that, I'm sorry. Unless you like sink trap soup. But it's one of those meals that looks appalling but tastes nice, like moussaka, or Paul. Plus it's low in fat, like moussaka, or unlike Paul.
This does take no time at all to make however, uses only a few ingredients and is just the thing for those summer evenings when you have nothing in and the takeaway menu is just a shade out of reach.
one big old lettuce from the shops, or garden, if you please
400g of frozen peas (I used petit pois - not for any culinary reason, but just because I couldn't be arsed to find the proper peas at the back of the freezer)
two large cucumbers
one large bunch of spring onions
1 litre of chicken stock
80g of extra mature cheddar (two x HEA, but this serves four) (and listen, you can totally get away with adding 160g, I'm just being polite)
slice your spring onions - including all the green stalk - and gently fry off in a little oil
cut the lettuce and cucumber up roughly - it's all getting blended so no need for neatness
once the spring onions are softened, add the stock, lettuce, peas and cucumber and boil for about 10 minutes until everything has softened but still stays green
carefully blend the soup with a hand blender
stir in the grated cheese until everything is thick and tasty
serve adorned with cress and cheerful wishes (and a lot of black pepper)
Syn free eggy bread cups – possibly one of the easiest recipes we’ve ever done, but if you’re looking for a quick, healthy breakfast, fill your boobs. Not a typo.
So, here’s the deal folks. We need to knuckle down and focus on our fabulous cookbook, which is coming out in December.
Coming up with eighty-six jokes about willies per paragraph is taxing on the old fingers, I can promise you. But we can’t leave you without something to read of an evening, and as a result, I’ve decided to publish a chapter from the other book we’re writing, a memoir of our month in Canada last year. Our travel blogs, like your dear writer, always go down well.
Canada has been on my mind a lot lately, so it’s always nice to revisit it. Seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been nine months. Anyone got a contact for Bernard’s Watch? Anyway.
If you’re here for the eggy bread cups recipe, scroll right to the bottom and you’ll see it right there!
We landed at Toronto Airport in double-smart time and, after a restorative coffee and a mental note of all the airport shops available to us for the end of the holiday ‘get rid of the Canadian money because I’ll be buggered if it’s getting added to the drawer of mystery money at home’ dash, we made our way to the car rental place to pick up our motor for the brief trip to Niagara. I had asked for an exciting car, something with a bit of zip, something that an NHS dentist wouldn’t drive. They gave me a Nissan Qashqai that, if it were represented by a sound, it would be that little sigh you make when you bite into an apple and it’s soft. I mean, it’ll do, but. Toronto to Niagara is about a two hour drive if you drive like Paul, about an hour if you drive like me. By drive like me I mean furiously, with scant attention to road-signs, other users and the fact I was falling asleep at the wheel because I was so, so tired. Who would have thought that thirty days of travelling would catch up with me so suddenly?
Luckily, Canadian motorways are wide, many-laned and never particularly busy, so I was able to get some shut-eye for a good few miles before Paul’s screaming and wrenching at the steering wheel rudely brought me around. He can be a very selfish passenger. Oh, I should preface this by saying I asked him to drive but he couldn’t because he was tired. But we couldn’t play loud music because he had a headache. He also wouldn’t talk to me to keep me awake because he was sulking because I wouldn’t let him wear my sex-trophy hat. So actually, had we rolled the motor and shuffled into the afterlife, he’d have only had himself to blame.
After our brief sojourn onto the hard shoulder Paul made me stop for a coffee. I immediately poo-pooed this idea because the last thing I need when I’m trying to nod off is caffeine and instead made a swap for a Dairy Queen Dime Bar Blizzard. Listen, if you’re at a computer, look into flights to Toronto right now and get one of these into you. I’d cheerfully push the Scottish rugby team off my bumhole to have another bash at one of these. It’s worth losing a foot over, I promise you. It’s like they blended a whole bag of Dime bar miniatures with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and rubbed it across my prostate for a solid ten minutes. I’ve never had a dessert give me a full stonk-on.
Back in the car, absolutely smashed off my tits on the sugar, the rest of the drive flew by in a blur of metal and me screeching along to Cher. Paul laughed as his ears bled.
Our hotel was the Sheraton by the Falls. It’s called that because of the amount of old people I pushed over in my haste to get in (there was a much, much better joke there originally, but in this age of hysteria, I pulled it). Gosh no I’m kidding, it’s a wonderful hotel that overlooks the falls – if you’re fancy and pay for an upgrade you can gaze out of your window at the majesty of the falls. Which sounds just lovely and indeed it is, but it comes with a significant downside. Being so near so much thundering water means everything is ever so slightly damp. It’s like a hen-party with an aged male stripper. This in turn creates an overwhelming smell of foist in the room, which admittedly was alleviated a little once Paul and his toxic arse settled in. Something to consider if you’re planning on booking it: great views, deathly smell. twochubbycubs in a nutshell!
We farted about in the room for a bit – the usual, you know, Paul has a dump, I have a browse through the porn channels and lament that yet again, the Hilton have failed to cater for us delicate souls who can’t get off unless there’s stuff on there that would make a jury wince, then made to go out. I got as far as the bathroom before I realised – through a haze of Paul’s effluence – that the bath was one of those fancy doohickies with bubble jets and all sorts of fancy buttons to pulse your sphincter and make your boobs jiggle. I couldn’t let that go, so promptly set the taps away, adding just a drop of Molton Brown for that luxurious black pepper scent. Nipped out to give Paul some ‘we’ve been married twelve years, let’s get it out of the way’ disinterested attention, and came back to the bathroom to wipe the shame off my hands only to find the room absolutely awash with bubbles.
It was fantastic. I climbed into that bath and entirely disappeared into a cloudscape of gently popping bubbles. I’ve never felt gayer. With my head just poking through the bubbles I looked like the campest meringue you’ve ever seen. I must have been cooing and oohing too loudly because Paul came in (maybe he thought I was finishing myself off? Cheers, Mr ‘And I’m Done’, for the concern) and shrieked. Nothing spoils a peaceful moment like one of Paul’s shrieks. He explained that we’d probably be charged for wrecking their plumbing and pointed to a tiny sign on the wall which implored folks not to use bubble bath with the jets turned on. Please. The sign was the size of a postage stamp: you’re talking to someone who needs all his focus to hit the bowl when he has a pap. The bubbles showed no sign of abating – possibly because I still had two of the jets focused on my cock – so I dried off and out we went, deciding to worry about that problem later in the night.
That’s enough for now. Part two coming soon! Let’s do the syn-free eggy bread cups!
The cheek of us calling this a recipe, honestly. But sometimes, you just want something quick in the morning so you can spend all your time outside pushing a couple of weeds around so you can surreptitiously gawp at the one hot neighbour pushing his lawnmower around with his shirt off. No? Just me? OK, quick and easy so you can get back to your stories.
I'm making the recipe enough for two egg cups - enough for one person, I think you'll agree. Scale up accordingly.
two slices of whatever bread Slimming Would have decided is alright for you that week (your Healthy Extra B choice)
two large eggs
salt and pepper
preheat the oven to 180 degrees
get a deep muffin tray and spritz it with some spray olive oil
cut the crusts off your bread and then cut each slice into two
layer the two halves into one of the muffin spaces and crack an egg into the middle
give a couple of grinds of salt and pepper
repeat as many times as you like and then cook in the oven for fifteen minutes (runny) or twenty (firm)
gussy these up by adding a sprinkling of cheese
I threw a load of cherry tomatoes into the muffin tray to let them roast whilst the eggs cooked
Chicken taco wraps! Remember we’re old school here at twochubbycubs. We use wraps for making wraps as opposed to making apple pies and panty liners with them. But if you want the recipe for chicken taco wraps, you’ll need to hold onto your nonny for a second because, as usual, nonsense follows! Scroll down to the food photos if you’re not quite ready for me to spice up your life with my shenanigans.
First, a gentle reminder. We have a cookbook coming out – 100 recipes of slimming classics (but none of the use sweetener, use fry-light shite) that’ll help you see your bajingo again when you’re naked. They won’t let us use that as a strapline. It’s coming along terrifically and we promise it’ll scratch the itch you have. Which saves you buying natural yoghurt, which be fair, you’d only eat anyway. Click to pre-order and say you’ll be there at launch day!
Happy Father’s Day, everyone! Usually I’d write a post about my dad but he’s terribly shy and stoic and wouldn’t enjoy the fuss, and this isn’t a love thing, so I’ll just say that he’s an amazing dad who never once rolls his eyes when his 34 year old son rings him because he needs a washer changing or a shelf putting up. By the same token, our mutually respectful relationship means I don’t judge him too vociferously for not turning the keypad noises off on his phone or watching him stab at the iPad like a chicken hunting corn. He’s always been there for me, providing me with a haunting visage of the looks I can expect when I hit sixty. Thank God my deleterious lifestyle choices will shuffle me into the Earth by 54 at best.
Anyway, how have you all been? Well? I’m asking as though I’ll read the replies when you all holler. It’s been terrifically busy at Chubby Towers – the disadvantage of writing a cookbook is that we’re having to cook so many new recipes and write them up that I’ve barely had time for my nine hour daytime naps and ‘let’s have another round of The Office, seasons 2-7’. It’s a chore being us. But we’ve managed to fit a few exciting things in, one of which was a trip to see the Spice Girls.
Well, one of us. Spice Girls is to Paul what water is to a rabid dog, so he bailed out after eight months of me geeing him along and instead, Paul II replaced him. There was no chance he wouldn’t do it – Spice Girls is to Paul II what water is to a chip pan fire, if I may torture that analogy for a second more. A hotel was secured, a train driver was cautioned that he would be dragging especially heavy cargo and I managed to accidentally leave work early by 28 minutes, so all was well. I say that, the plan was for me to come home, pick up my stuff and be straight out, but I got collared by one of the (very few) sweet neighbours on our street who asked me to nip her back passage and take a look at her abelia bush.
Frankly, it was the best offer I’d had all day and I needed practice at making the elderly happy, so off I went. She kept me there for thirty minutes despite my ‘must get on’ and ‘time goes by’ schtick but honestly, she was so lovely and a proper nana that I didn’t want to go. I did point out that it was nearly the weekend, love, but she didn’t pick up on it – I was wasting my time. I’ve been hankering for a substitute nana since mine was Endgamed and she could be the one. Although she didn’t have a television operating at Chernobyl-disaster levels of volume so I’m not sure. Once I managed to get away I quickly shaved my noggin and off I went.
The trip to the Stadium of Light was an ordeal and a half, not least because as someone with (albeit the faintest possible trace) Newcastle United running through my veins (thanks to my parents), it feels wrong. This was compounded by the Metro carriage being full of loud, shrieking Geordies wearing lip-readable skirts singing all the wrong words to every Spice Girls song they could imagine. Paul II is quick to anger and I could see the rage building in his yellow eyes and, as for me, I would have been glad of a tunnel so I could pop my head out of the window and shave away my ears at 60mph on the brickwork. It was a long journey, though livened up by Paul II’s surprise that the North East has a) fields and b) horses. Well aye: we always need somewhere to knock together a Catherine Cookson adaptation at a moment’s notice if Robson Green’s gas bill needs paying.
After a slow walk of life to the stadium (Paul II has weak knees, I have thick thighs) where we were accompanied by a lass telling us she had shaved her whisker biscuit for a Nelly concert, we found our seats. I’d picked spectacular seats for sure, even if they were high enough in the stands to require oxygen. Well, ticketmaster did – we were sat down above the entrance with an unobstructed view and even better, nothing in front of us bar a precipitous drop and a view of everyone’s dandruff as they wandered in. I was dispatched to find alcohol because once Paul II has sat down it’s a four man job to get him up again and I’m delighted to report that I politely asked them to move over and only managed to stand on eight feet on the way. I’m told she’ll walk again but her dancing career is fucked. That’ll be the last time, lover.
The concert was terrific, mind you. Absolutely mint. People had been making pointed comments at me for a couple of weeks about sound quality but come on, for four ladies in their seventies they did an absolutely cracking job. All the classics with a load of album tracks in the middle which I sang along to despite not knowing the words or the key. But when does that ever stop this boy with song in his heart? You have to sing if you can’t dance! I admit to my Emotional Response Unit faltering a shade when Viva Forever kicked in and everyone was singing. I may have got wet eyes, much like Paul II when Let Love lead The Way came on and everyone picked up Posh’s bits. I was schooled by Paul II who knows every single word to every single Spice Girls song and who also sang along, which must have been a treat for everyone around us to have two giant gay bears bellowing and screaming like cows in a Foot and Mouth fire.
Oh! Something kinda funny happened though – events were livened up still further by a fight breaking out a few rows behind us between a few lasses who all had the look of ladies who know where the best local dogfights are held. The video is worth a watch, if only to see the chunky mama in green fall down between the concrete of the row and the seats in front like the thick blue line in Tetris. She was escorted out by all manner of chaps in hi-vis (when they came sprinting up the stairs next to me I thought one of my wishes had come true and instinctively started pushing out) (though I wouldn’t be the first person to leave that stadium suckered to their chair like a Garfield toy on the window of a Vauxhall Zafira; the dancers were very handsome indeed) and that was that. Fancy fighting at a Spice Girls concert though. Listen, girls – who do you think you are? We’re all sore Posh was too busy clipping out her ingrown toenail to turn up, but keep your shit together – the lady is a vamp, remember, and she has David Beckham to enjoy.
Any sense of excitement and joy was immediately tempered by the queue for the Metro though. In an astonishing bit of not-like-me, I’d forgotten that 50,000 people would be trying to get home. Naturally, as we had taken our leisurely time leaving (stopping for a piss in the gents only to be confronted by what looked like the Saturday night divas from the bingo hall all sitting in the urinal) (thankfully, though only just, sitting not a typo) we were position number 49,890 in the queue. We contemplated trying to wave down the Spice Bus but it didn’t happen, so we pooled our resources and found the most expensive Uber trip ever back to town and told him to take me home. Traffic was bumper to bumper and I was bursting for a piss – I had tears in my eyes at the end that had nothing to do with the optimistic Magic Tree hanging on the dash. Taxi driver was a treat though – complimented my glittery bear shirt and everything. Right back at ya, driver!
Paul II also stayed for the day after and we filled it with food and escape rooms. I’m saying absolutely nowt about our performance in the second escape room because honestly, it’s not worth my life. Ah balls to it – I wanna be honest. We escaped with ten seconds to spare, and in our defence the very last action of the room involved an actual sprint to the exit. We were doomed from the start, not least when Paul II had to get down with me to retrieve all the balls I’d spilled on the floor. But we performed admirably, with absolutely no mistakes made.
And that was that! Spice Girls concert done with my mate and a great couple of days away from looking at a computer screen with bile in my eyes. When the Spice Girls come back for their eighty-seventh reunion tour, be sure to see them if you wanna have some fun. They’ll never give up on the good times, it wasn’t certainly wasn’t too much and there is no denying – they were so much better than I hoped!
To be honest, calling this a recipe is a bit cheeky - but you know sometimes you just want a quick dinner? This is one of those meals. Grill the chicken however you like it - add some spice, if you prefer, but I like it naked. This is meant to show you how quickly you can make something up!
4 wholemeal wraps (use your HEB)
2 chicken breasts
8 tbsp salsa (4 syns)
4 tbsp guacamole (6 syns)
180g reduced fat mozzarella (use your HEA)
chopped iceberg lettuce
This makes enough for four wraps, one each, 2.5 syns! But I appreciate it's hard to stop with wraps, so don't be surprised if two become one!
cook the chicken however you like - we grilled ours in an Optigrill
lay out the wraps and dollop 2 tbsp of salsa mix and guacamole onto each one and spread out (like you're topping a pizza)
sprinkle over the chopped lettuce and diced chicken and top with the grated mozzarella
Here for the cajun steak dirty rice? Bless your soul. The recipe is down the bottom, but first, an apology for the time between posts. I’ve been either:
on the pop;
in a crisis;
in a crisis whilst on the pop;
on my knees;
on my knees, drunk, causing a crisis; or
at a Pride event, see above.
But I’m all sorted now. Of course, the other thing gobbling me up is this cookbook of ours. You know, we’ve got a cookbook coming out, with all our new recipes in it, plus a delicious spurt of sassiness. Click the banner to pre-order! And remember if all you’re here for is the cajun steak dirty rice, get scrolling!
Whoops. Posted this the other night, but hit the schedule button rather than publish. So pretend it’s Monday, won’t you?
I wasn’t going to post tonight, but I sent Paul into our bedroom an hour ago to pick something up off the floor only to find him fifteen minutes face-down with his arse in the air. Now you might reasonably think, oh, James, your luck is in, but I must remind you of one salient fact: I’ve been married ten years. The only time Paul puts out these days is when he’s angling for a surprise holiday or wants a few minutes lying prostrate so he can finish his book. No, the poor guy is all tuckered out because we’ve been down in Birmingham (at this point, I’m considering getting a second job down there, given I’m like a yoyo between the two cities at present) for Pride and I made him drive all the way down on Saturday and all the way back today. I’d have driven, but it’s a Smart car, and honestly I’d sooner drive a hearse full of ashen-faced mourners to the wrong funeral than that orange little rustbucket. So we can forgive him his sins, for now, and I’ll continue on my high horse, thank you.
Pride came out of nowhere for us this year – we’d been invited down by a good mate and were umming and aahing (not least because I was hungover from Wednesday in Leeds) until we watched a particularly gruesome episode of Chernobyl and decided life’s too short, let’s go. Packed my best rainbow knickers (I really ought to wash them, but I’m waiting for the Daz Doorstep Challenge to make a return just so I can see Danny Baker blanch when I hand over my barely foldable keks), told Paul to book a hotel and tickets and away we went.
Paul doesn’t travel well with me on long journeys when I’m the passenger. It’s like having four personalities in the car:
the shrieking me who holds onto the door handles and winces every time we go around a corner like I’m on that rollercoaster from Final Destination 3;
the shrieking me who sings along to every last song (I choose the music) – Paul’s recently been told he’s going deaf and actually, I’m not entirely convinced that it isn’t a lifestyle choice he’s made;
the shrieking me who litters the bottom of his car with crisp packets, coke bottles, whatever I’ve found in my bag, whatever I’ve found in his glovebox (the man has a surprising amount of baby wipes stashed in his car – I’d be worried, but no-one’s going to approach a Smart car pulled up in a layby, let’s face it);
the shrieking me who reaches over and beeps his horn for him (not a euphemism, see earlier comment) because he’s altogether too polite and frankly a car journey for me isn’t complete until I’ve started bringing up lung from screaming at anyone who gets in the way.
So understand, the four hours it took us to get to Birmingham – well, I had a whale of a time, Paul less so. The important thing is I enjoyed myself.
We checked into a Premier Inn in the city centre and, after a moment or four hours to enjoy the glamour and to pack away the towels, we minced out to meet our friend, who you may recall from an earlier post. He was easy enough to spot, given he’s the epitome of our ideal man and well, we were semi-flaring within 100 yards. What followed was a terrific amount of drinking, diversions and some mild peril. It was a great night, though in a great example of him never being off, Paul ended up engaged in political debate with two drunk fellas who wouldn’t leave us alone. That’s what I’m told, I was experiencing an X-Files-esque lost period of time in the gents. We parted ways around 2ish and after a brief interlude (actually lasting forty minutes) where I sat and chatted with a homeless fella who offered to show me his leg ulcer, went to bed. Sunday was better still – back out and on it, this time joined by Andy’s long-suffering but lovely girlfriend, a good friend from Facebook, Paul II and his husband and two of Andy’s friends. Another great night! To share details would be lurid but there were some fabulous twists and turns and fun was had by all. The best kiss of the night wore lipstick.
But that’s not why I’m writing. I’ve touched on the importance of Pride many times over – including this fabulous article – and all those things stand. But what did strike me, as we wandered around, was how happy everyone was. Bar one overweening queen who looked my husband up and down and did the ‘yes, I know who you are’ gambit, there was not a blot of bother. We live in a country that is becoming increasingly fractured, and for the first time in my entire life I’m worried about where the rights for LGBT+ folks are going – you’ve got ministers supporting the banning of tolerance teaching in schools, an American president who sits proudly with the bigoted bastard in charge of Brazil and, more so, the far right given a voice that remains unchallenged. All this for something as immutable as eye colour or the size of your feet. It’s easy to sit on the outside looking in when you have the luxury of not being the one getting looked down on, but we need Pride more than ever. Yes, it’s overly commercial, yeah there’s something arguably cynical about HSBC and Argos changing their logo to a rainbow, but damn, it’s always a pleasure to see so many people having a good time without any second thoughts. Even nicer to see lots of families bringing their children along and showing them a world full of colour, and doubly more important when there’s protests outside from ‘caring parents’ who ‘don’t want their kids to see deviant behaviour’. Pfft. My mother was incredibly supportive of all my fabulousness growing up and I turned out perfect, right? Hello?
As an addendum, given with the miracle of time-travel (i.e. the advantage of forgetting to post for a week), we’ve also just returned from Northumberland Pride, which is like Birmingham Pride but done on a budget befitting a much smaller enterprise. Brum had Faithless, we had Lorraine Crosby (star of 1993’s hit single I Would Do Anything For Love, But I Won’t Do That) (that being trading on past glories) (I’m kidding, she’s great). Brum had a pub full of bears and an attitude full of sin, Northumberland Pride had a cake stand and some hashtags. But it was smashing, actually, partly because I got drunk and didn’t manage to make a fool of myself, partly because we both took full advantage of all the caterers. We even camped overnight, breaking Paul’s camping cherry and also his lower back. He’s such a diva, honestly. If you can’t get comfortable on a single deflating £14.99 airbed from Argos whilst yesterday’s sweat and spittle drips on your face, then you just aren’t trying.
Support your Prides, people. Go out and have an amazing time. If you’re worried about your husband not feeling comfortable with all that rampant homosexuality, don’t fret, I’ll look after him. We can add another S-fluid onto the tent of dreams.
Right, all that schmaltz aside, shall we get to the recipe in hand? Cajun steak dirty rice! Easy to make and will definitely get you some action if you serve it in your best lingerie. Apologies for the photos – we took them outside in the dark, so had to artificially lighten them.
An absolute classic, why? Because it's so damn good! Piece of piss too, and everyone loves it. An easy way to sneak some veg into your kids if they're that sort. A little bit of prep is needed but it's all worth it. This works great on its own or even as a side. Have it for breakfast for all I care.
200g long-grain rice
4 bacon medallions, diced
½ red, yellow and green pepper, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
½ onion, diced
6 mushrooms, diced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 beef stock cube
2 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp worcestershire sauce (optional)
cook the rice according to the instructions, and set aside
spray a large frying pan with some oil over a medium-high heat and slap in your steak
cook the steak to your liking, remove from the pan onto a plate and leave to rest
wipe out the pan and add a little more oil and place back over the heat
add the bacon and onion and cook until the bacon is done
stir in the cajun seasoning along with the worcestershire sauce (if using)
dissolve the stock cube in 200ml of boiling water and keep aside
chuck the peppers, carrots and mushrooms along with the stock and give a good stir - cook until most of the liquid has evaporated
once most of the liquid has evaporate throw in the rice and stir until well mixed and warmed through
dice the steak and stir into the mixture
serve and sprinkle over the spring onions
You don't need fancy or expensive steak for this, any will do
If you can't be arsed to cook rice just use the microwave pouches, cook in the microwave towards the end and stir into the pan with the vegetables - make sure you check the syns though
Stop ruining your pans with Fry Light! All it does is evaporate off and leave a sticky, gungy mess. Use one of these instead
No-one has time for dicing a carrot so do we what we did - use a julienne peeler, and then simply slice across to get easy, small diced bits
You can find cajun seasoning in most supermarket along with the herbs and spices, but to be honest any spice mix you have gathering dust will do. We've done this with piri-piri and fajita mixes and it comes out just as good!
Yes! After years of saying we’d never do one because frankly, it all seems like a terrific bother, we’ve been headhunted by a lovely publisher who really believes. I know, my flabber was as gasted as yours – I was making Harold Bishop concentrating noises for weeks in disbelief.
So what’s our angle? Easy: 100 or so of the slimming recipes that helped us on our journey last year to lose 265lb between the two of us! All new recipes that haven’t been slid into your inbox before. Recipes that you can count on to be delicious (because it’s us, and yeah, we might have filthy mouths and make far too many knob-jokes than is decent, but by god we can cook!), slimming and, perhaps most of all: easy to make. The whole ethos of twochubbycubs is that we aren’t chefs, we aren’t fancy and we certainly aren’t boring blah-blah writers – and that’s going to get tipped straight into the book, we promise. We’ll make an effort to make sure the recipes are suitable for your slimming plans.
Vegetarian? Vegan? Don’t you fret. We haven’t forgotten about you – we’ll make sure there’s a good spread of recipes that suit your needs straight from the off, or, are easily adapted to your ways. Fan of meat between your cheeks? We hear you, and have you covered too. In short, it’s a book for all!
Possibly the biggest question though: is it going to have the twochubbycubs’ brand of humour and smut? Of course it bloody is. It’s us. Whilst the recipes will be clear, easy-to-follow and simple enough to cook at home, there’s going to be more than a thick portion of our personality spread over each page. I did ask if the centrefold can be a casual photo of me in a bath of Quality Street with my moobs pressed lusciously together but that was vetoed on the grounds that it would be so damn hot, it would pose a fire risk. Plus they’d might lose a toffee finger or two when I shifted. We might tone down the swearing in case the book ends up on a table in a WI hall at some point, but everything else remains the same.
We want this book to be three things, most of all:
* inspirational: we lost 265lb between us, we know how to lose weight and that the key thing to remember is that you want your diet to feel less like a chore and more like a lifestyle – we can give you the help you need without being patronising arses;
* fun: if you’re like us and reading 300 words about someone choosing the right quinoa in a Venetian market bores you to tears – we will be different; and
* lucrative: listen, we’ve got an American road-trip planned for next year and there’s only so many meat-boxes that we can convert to airmiles.
Oh, and the blog: worry not. We’ve had our foot off the pedals for a while, but we’re back on it big-style. We’ve got recipes banked up to post, stories to tell and finally, thankfully, we’ve got a bit of zim about us. This will be our year!
Two final points: you can pre-order the cookbook now, and we’d love you forever and ever if you told your friends and slimming group members all about it – we promise you won’t be disappointed.
And, just to be clear, Paul and I aren’t splitting up. I just couldn’t do that to him. Honestly, he’s co-signed as a joint party on our book contract and I’ll be damned if he’s getting half of the spoils if he’s not around to scratch my feet and keep me centered.
You have come for the lamb and mint burgers – I nearly did too. But in order to get to the lamb and mint burgers, you’ll either need to scroll through a tale of DILFery OR jump straight to the picture of two men nearly kissing. Either way, I’m going to make you work for it.
They say never meet your heroes, and nor should you reuse your opening joke from a similar blog entry two posts ago, but sometimes you have to take a risk that the man you’re meeting off the Internet isn’t going to brutally attack, sodomise and chop you into bits. Much to my chagrin: I could do with the easy weight loss a leg amputation would bring. Following hot on the heels of my recent jaunt to meet Paul II, the chap behind our roast potatoes recipe, we rolled the dice again and agreed to meet another mate for the first time. His name is Andy, and if you’re a member of our Facebook group, you’ll have seen his arse more times than you’ll have seen our recipes. He was up to see Suede and had decided to make a weekend of it and thus, plans were afoot. We were going to meet Saturday Night, but then I realised Sunday was far more appropriate.
We had arranged to meet in Newcastle’s cigar lounge for a few drinks and a catch-up, but then Paul came along (as did Andy’s wife) and thus we had to find a new venue to accommodate everyone. I shan’t call it cockblocking, even though that’s clearly what it is. We settled on Newcastle’s premier ‘why yes, I am vegan’ hotspot (although technically it’s Gateshead) ‘By the River’, which is a charming collection of shipping containers full of pop-up boutique eateries and fancy places to drink. It’s wank, aye, but good wank: the type of wank which doesn’t take forever and rewards you by just leaving your pubes looking like an iced-bun. By The River, if you want to use that in your advertising, my fees are entirely reasonable. Gateshead has a rough reputation – some of which is deserved (there’s more than a few places where if you’ve got a full set of teeth in your head you’ll be beating the street’s total) and some of which isn’t, but By The River at least feels safe.
We were late but they were later still and on entirely the wrong side of the river so, whilst they minced over the swing bridge resplendent in their winter wear (She’s In Fashion), I went in and ordered a couple of beers.
“We only serve our beers in 2/3rds, no pints” said the charming lady behind the bar, and who then stuck her hand out for £11 – for not even two pints. When I asked whether I was renting the pub for the evening and whether I only needed to pay 2/3rds of the bill, she gave me a look that turned my beer flat and jostled her hand at me again. I love to make friends. I took my sunkissed tangerine press beer and Paul’s grapefruit and hops liquor nonsense (surprised it didn’t come with a tampon floater) outside just in time to meet Andy, Sarah and their children. A baby (she’s a roight good babby she am!) and a young lad. I’ll say this now – what an absolute treasure their children are. Absolutely Beautiful Ones. You have to understand that I’m coming at this as someone who dislikes children immensely and would think nothing of dropkicking the little buggers into the Tyne if they so much as slightly inconvenience me in any way. It’s testament to Sarah and Andy’s excellent parenting that the lad, So Young, was able to sit and be cheerful through ten hours of our nonsense, and was content to nurse his Jaegerbomb and twenty deck of Lamberts whilst the adults chatted.
We sat by the river for about half an hour chatting like old friends before we realised that the baby’s lips had turned blue and she had icicles hanging off her nappy and thought it would be wise to head indoors but, met with a sea of shaped beards, brittle wrists and occupied seats, we were forced to decamp to the Wetherspoons over the bridge. I’m not a fan of Wetherspoons for political reasons and because the owner looks like Professor Weetos mid-CBT, but nevertheless, it’s cheap and cheerful and at least the baby would have a chance to thaw. Finding a table for six proved difficult, not least because Captain Potato Paint was sat at a table for six and refused to move. He wasn’t sat with anyone and yet refused to swap over, taking a fair bit of joy in watching us crowd around a tiny table. Prick. With any luck, he’ll have pitched himself into the Tyne on his way home.
Eventually a table came clear and, with a final shitty look at the melt who wouldn’t move, we took our seats and started drinking. Here’s a cute thing: we posted our table number into our facebook group and mentioned if people wanted to send us a drink or two, they could. They sent a bloody table’s worth of booze – gins, whisky, pints, shots, pitchers of lurid cocktails and, of course, some smoothies and a lemonade for the little one (Paul). That was amazing, and if you sent us a drink, thank you – but it gets even better. People, knowing what fatties we were, sent food. So much food. We had 12 trays of halloumi fries, seven bowls of mushy peas, a token salad and so many biscuits. Whilst We Are The Pigs and Can’t Get Enough, even we can’t manage that much. At one point both the ‘Chef’ and the bar manager came over to ask whether we actually wanted the drinks and food that people had sent and tried to guilt-trip us because we’d caused a run on the bar. Fancy, a pub having to serve drinks and food! They both had a right strop on – presumably the Chef’s microwave had reached critical mass and was threatening to become the next Chernobyl, but even so – people paid for the food, you give it to them! I blame BREXIT.
A good few hours passed in delightful company and let me tell you, conversation never felt strained, save for when we were trying to work out the nuances of Sarah’s Sam Allardyce accent. The baby was getting restless at around 10pm (I’ve never seen a baby call for her own Uber before) and the decision was made to return back to their Premier Inn with us two in tow. What followed was a smashing game of car Tetris which saw the delightful Ahmed (5*) trying to fit a baby, pram, two fat blokes, a small child and his Switch, one rugby-build bloke and one wife with a better beard than all of us into a Vauxhall Zafira. To his credit, once we’d strapped Sarah onto the roof like the granny from The Beverley Hillbillies, popped the baby in the glove box with a rusk and I’d persuaded Andy to sit on my face and wriggle, we were away.
The Premier Inn was a wonderful establishment with kind staff, a bottomless bar (well until I turned up) and cheery receptionists who were just so eager to please. The rest of the evening was spent messing about, talking Trash and laughing until about half one, when we definitely chose of our own volition to leave the bar. We were waved off warmly by the staff and even had a long conversation outside with the kind, good-natured receptionist and just charming security chap. Paul and I jumped in an Uber home and although the driver seemed not to mind detouring into Gosforth Racecourse so we could all go for a piss, he hid his disgust well behind a cloud of our piss-steam. A good night indeed!
Tell you what though, what a pleasure it was meeting such a lovely group of people. I’m not one for overwrought writing but sometimes you just know when you’ve made good friends – so well done Sarah and Andy, you’ve melted our hearts. They’ve made the catastrophic error of inviting us to their wedding later in the year – sounds like a gas save for the fact I love being the centre of attention and if Sarah thinks I’m not turning up in a size 36 white wedding dress with mascara smeared on my face and Astroglide smeared up my arse then she’s got another thing coming. Probably Andy, to be fair. Up my bum, hopefully. We haven’t been to a wedding since the last time when we got drunk and I tried to fuck to the strains of Gina G. How am I gonna beat that?
And finally, before the recipe, a moment of congratulations for me, if you don’t mind. I’ve managed to type 1400 words or so and never really made clear what an absolute fucking DILF this man is:
There’s just something about his looks that appeals to me, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. We’ll Stay Together again!
Right, speaking of tasty meat, shall we do this lamb and mint burgers recipe? Let’s get your dripping from your mouth instead of your blurter.
Here for the sundried tomato, chicken and parmesan couscous? Something for the weekend, madam? Sir? Well regardless, it’s here, but continuing the theme of less blog posts but more quality writing, the next entry is a long one – feel free to scroll down to the food pictures if you’re short on attention / time / desire to read 2400 words about a camping trip.
It was my birthday last week (29, again, thanks – sure) and, confession time, I don’t handle getting older very well. Due to a mixture of being ill, a general lingering sense of disenchantment and work commitments, I took a strong and stable decision to postpone any celebrations until later in the month. I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday on Brexit Day, either. I think this is why Theresa delayed it.
This led to me trying to fill the void with all manners of tedious activities including clearing out the garage, which I’m totally doing because I want some extra space and not because I want to move the gloryhole into there as our knees are wearing a tread in the carpet. We’ll touch on that in another entry but all you need to know was that on one Saturday morning, we were to be found Sorting Out Shite in the garage. Well, I was, I’d sent Paul to try and find somewhere to store all of his nonsense / sentimental keepsakes.
Now, you must understand, for as much as I love camping, Paul loves the act of complaining about it even more: he’s got a bad back / legs / attitude and no amount of sleeping out in the wild will cut the mustard for him. Paul’s idea of roughing it is a hotel without a bidet to wash his knot with and full room service. He’s all fur coat and no knickers, that one, and has certainly changed from the days when his mum used to put Netto washing up liquid in his bath because they were too poor for Matey.
So, for years, every time I suggested we go camping, it would immediately be shot down or a ‘compromise’ offered where he stayed in a nearby hotel, appeared on command for cuddles (or to check there wasn’t another man in my tent) and then fuck off. Well, I wasn’t having that: either shit or get off the marriage, I say. Hence on this Saturday morning, tent in hand, I decided that I ought to take myself off into the wilds of Northumberland – alone mind you – to have a night to myself. It was a glorious sunny day, the sky was full of hope and my heart full of joy, so after a quick mince to Argos for the essentials (air-bed for two, sleeping bag for two, night-light you could flag a plane down with) and Morrisons for the even more essentials (twelve packets of crisps, bottle of gin, six cans of tonic and blue Rizlas) I was set to go.
However, in my search for a carrier bag for my snacks, I noticed our greenhouse was now overflowing with garage stuff, and that just couldn’t do: I spent the next two hours clearing that out until events came to a screeching (quite literally) halt with the appearance of a spider that I genuinely could have boxed with. I’m not too bad with spiders as long as I can see them but this was a big, mean looking bastard and it came hurtling from under the table I’d just sledgehammered with the look of a neighbour whose bin I had knocked over. To be honest, had I been bent over at the time, this could have been a #metoo moment. Paul, alerted by my more-screaming-than-usual, came out to see what the problem is, then went immediately back inside, smartly closing the door, and taking a position at the bedroom window to peek at me through the blinds as though fearful the spider itself could have crowbarred the door open.
I’d made such good progress at this point that, after my heart resumed its normal beat of 180BPM, I dashed back in and valiantly set about the area with a shovel like I was beating out an oil fire, cracking two floor tiles as I went – but I got the bastard. It was certainly the first time I’ve ever felt a spider fight back. You know in Infinity War when Scarlet Witch is using her powers to hold back Thanos? That was this spider. I do hope its children were watching – I left the carcass on the floor as a warning. That and I couldn’t lift the bugger because adrenaline had left me weak. That all wrapped up, I was in the car and heading for God Knows Where in no time, just as the heavens started to open with that indecisive rain where it’s wet enough to make your thighs chaff but not enough to warrant putting the windscreen wipers on. Of course.
After a good solid hour of yelling and shouting and foaming at the gash about being stuck behind weekend drivers (seriously: why do you have a car with a three litre engine if all you’re doing to do is drive it to your hospice appointment at a speed so low I’m surprised the reversing lights don’t come on – why? Who hurt you? Me, if you don’t get out of the friggin’ way, you lavender-haired shitemare), I pulled into Wooler. Found a charming little campsite only to be immediately and snootily told that oh no, chortle chortle, they don’t allow tents. Yes, I can see the concern – the last thing you want on a campsite is people camping, after all. I mean, where would all the aforementioned arseholes park their Range Rover Evoques? I gave a harrumph of disgust and spun on my heel as gracefully as a fat bloke in size 12 Dr Martens can manage, swishing my none hair at the same time. You know, it’s been over 15 years since I had long hair and if you look carefully, I still instinctively push my hair out of my eyes when I’m concentrating or arguing. Fun fact.
All was not lost, though – a little down the road I found somewhere quiet and flat to pitch my tent and, after Youtubing how the hell you put up a tent, set about it. You might expect that I’d struggle with such a task, but it was easy! I had two ropes to pull and up the tent popped, legs locking themselves and boom, done. The only tricky bit was forgetting to bring a hammer, but it’s OK – one of the advantages of being so burly is that most things bend underfoot and I had that tent secured in no time. Trickiest part was inflating the air bed – it was a manual pump (aren’t we all?) and boy did that take some doing. I was wrecked – in any other situation I’d have given up there and then but damn it, I won’t be beaten by a velour covered mattress with all the structural integrity of an old man’s scrotum. I huffed, puffed and almost blew my house down but by god after ten minutes that bed was as taut and firm as my coldness towards my husband.
All set up, I set about reading the book I’d brought along for all of thirty seconds before my feet start itching and so, I set off to explore a rural village in Northumberland in the hope of finding somewhere for a drink. Well now. It was a pretty village absolutely, and I’m a confident guy, but wearing rainbow sheen DMs paired with this understated t-shirt:
gave me a touch more pause than I usually have. The pubs didn’t look terrifically welcoming and perhaps not the place for a cheeky crème de menthe. I’m sure everyone was going to be very friendly but I’d forgotten my douching bulb and if we were going to go full Deliverance in Wooler, this wasn’t going to be the night. I mooched about, bought some petrol station sandwiches and somewhat disgustingly sober made my way back over the hill to my tent to set about enlightening myself. I noticed a caravan parked nearby but they left soon after, presumably after they realised they’d be kept awake by my snoring and farting.
I had the snazzy idea that if I needed emergency lighting I could use my car key fob to turn the headlights on and bathe my tent in bright light, however, the car was facing the wrong way. That’s fine – I got dressed (and you have no idea how difficult it is to put a pair of wet jeans on in a 5ft tent when you’re 6ft 1″) and nipped out. A quick reverse to turn the car around and we’d be good, only, in classic me fashion, I managed to reverse over two of the lines keeping the tent fastened and also a good third of my tent. Listen, it was dark and I didn’t have my glasses on, so don’t be a judgemental cow. Tell you what though, instead of snapping, those ropes held firm and the car did a smashing job ramming the tent pegs into the Earth. I hope there wasn’t a lassie sitting having a piss on a beach in New Zealand because she probably got the end of my tent-peg tickling her clopper. Aside from a tyre print across the side of the tent, all was well, and I congratulated myself on my ingenuity by sitting and flashing my lights off and on: – …. .-. — – – .-.. . / — . .-.-.- / -… .-. . . -.. / — . .-.-.- / .-.. . .- …- . / … -. .- -.-. -.- … .-.-.-
And so it was that the night passed along, me entertaining myself to the fullest degree I could. The idea of setting in a canvas coffin, your breath and farts condensing on the ceiling and dripping into your hair as you sleep, might not appeal to most, but it was worth it for one moment in the middle of the night: I stepped out for a piss and after marvelling at the fact I no longer had a penis because it had hidden away in my lungs for the night, I looked up – not a cloud in the sky and all the stars you could ever want. Somewhere out there, a star shines for me. There was no sound, no light nearby, and it was just magnificent: an absolute blanket of space and for all intents and purposes, not another soul around. I haven’t felt so perfectly alone in a long while and, far from it being awful, it was everything. Now admittedly, my giddiness could have been somewhat influenced by intoxicants, but I don’t care. I love the stars and I adored that moment. I do wonder if there was another couple watching the sight of an almost nude me staring transfixed at the sky for a good solid fifteen minutes and, if they were, I hope they enjoyed the sight of my bullet nipples and my milky-white bumcheeks positively coruscating in the moonlight.
Back inside, comfortably returned to the welcoming embrace of rustling sleeping bags and my own scent, I fell into sleep, and my night was done, save for an arresting gasp at about half five when I woke up disorientated and panicking due to shuffling so far into my sleeping bag that I thought someone cruel had buried me alive, I slept like a log. Honestly, I could have cheerfully stayed, but boo, work and someone needs to feed the cats. And oh aye, Paul. I nicked into a nearby toilet block for a shower and what a treat that was, mind – I’ve never felt fresher than I did soaping my balls under a shower I had to walk around in to get wet. Temperature? Glacial. Which made the next fifteen minutes of drip-drying all the sweeter, I can promise you – I’d forgotten to bring a towel and well let’s be frank, there’s a lot of flesh and hair to hold the water. I had to knock the icicles forming on my cock before I had a piss. After twenty minutes of dry-humping the airbed to try and get enough air out to enable me to fold it into a C3 and ten minutes of feeling sorry for myself for falling over in the mud whilst doing so, I was on my way. Stopped for a fried breakfast in somewhere artsy-fartsy and was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t judge me for not having muesli, then a quick drive back home (after the briefest of 200 mile diversions, you understand, to take in some familiar views) it was all over.
Camping, done. Definitely going to do it again. But enough about me, suppose we should do the recipe. Sundried tomato, chicken and parmesan couscous, here we go.
A handy lunch this, if you're stuck on stuff to eat during the day. Keeps well in the fridge and tastes better for being left. If you're feeling like an indulgent hussy, add yourself a small knob of butter when you add the couscous. Enjoy!
200g Ainsley Harriott sundried tomato and garlic cous cous (6 syns) (save syns by using plain couscous, but you know: taste)
6 handfuls of baby spinach, chopped up
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 chicken stock cube
2 tsp dried basil
½ tsp pepper
30g parmesan, grated (1x HeA)
chop the spinach finely
spray a large frying pan with a little oil over a medium heat
add the garlic and cook for one minute
add the chicken and cook it off until it's white
add spinach, basil and pepper to the pan
crumble over a stock cube and add 350ml water along with the couscous
mix everything together and bring to the boil
remove from the heat, cover the pan with a lid and stand for 5-10 minutes until the water is absorbed
sprinkle over the parmesan and serve
Make it more indulgent by adding 90g more of parmesan (3 x HEA!) and living the bloody dream. Stir it in!
As with all of our recipes, you can add anything you like into this. It would work well with roasted peppers, feta cheese, olives, sausages, packet of crisps or Trex.
The problem with recipes like sundried tomato chicken and parmesan couscous is that it’s super hard to make the photos look good – doesn’t help that it looks as though I’ve tipped a ped-egg over the top! But damn it, it tastes good and is worth giving it a go! Want more lunch ideas? Sure thing, sugartits: