quick carbonara (sort of)

Going to rattle off a quick lunch for you today – it’s carbonara, but without the double cream and lovely cheese and egg – instead, using a bit of Quark and egg yolk to mix it through. Before I get to that, and I’ll need to be quick as I’ve got a Doctor Who appointment in fifteen minutes, I confess myself disappointed. See we’ve been furiously buying new books to populate our massive bookcase and I thought, you know, let’s have a trip down Memory Lane. It can’t all be Nigella Lawson and Bill Bryson books. So I nipped onto Amazon to buy the two books I used to love as a nipper – Martin’s Mice by Dick King Smith and My Best Fiend by Sheila Lavelle. Well, honestly. I appreciate I’m viewing them with the jaundiced eye of an adult, but they’re bobbins. I’d finished both books in the time it took to fill my bath. 

And that saddens me. Obviously there are things we experience as a child that we don’t want to feel again as an adult – getting your bottom wiped, or the gentle caress of a whispering vicar, but wouldn’t it have been nice to have at least enjoyed a book that used to bring me so much joy. It also means I’m stuck on new books to buy, because I can’t face having my heart broken again by some insipid story or turgid bit of fiction. Paul’s easy enough – he buys intellectual books full of big words and covers that look like they’d give chartered accountants an erection. To demonstrate, I looked at the last two books we bought from Amazon: I shelled out for a second-hand copy of Delia’s How To Be Frugal, Paul spent his hard-earned money on ‘Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain’, a book that frankly sounds so boring that I drifted off halfway through reading out the title and started thinking about cats. Put another way, we have two magazine subscriptions that get delivered here – one is Viz magazine, the other is Private Eye. Tsk. Snob. I have everything Stephen King has ever published, Paul has a book on tunnels. I suppose they say opposites attract.

Anyway enough of that – tonight’s recipe:

sorta carbonara

to make cheat’s carbonara, you will need:

  • 200g pasta (we used tagliatelle)
  • 6 bacon medallions chopped neatly (you can use up your bacon from our meat box deal with Musclefood – click here for that!)
  • three tablespoons of Quark
  • 30g parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of fromage frais
  • bit of cheddar
  • two egg yolks

to make cheat’s carbonara, you should:

  • boil the pasta and cook the bacon off
  • mix together everything else
  • then mix EVERYTHING together

I know, simple, but still…!


slimming world moussaka

Good evening. Hey, it’s been a while since we chatted, just you and me. Well, that’ll have to wait – The Returned is back on TV tonight and I can’t wait to get a glimpse of that Frenchman’s knob lose myself in the mysterious world of the returning dead and impossibly pretty girls saying ‘Poob’. Ah yes. Paul is making moussaka, so I’m simply going to write until either a) it’s 9pm or b) my shoulders hurt or c) Paul forgets to bring me my hourly coffee and I have to set about his face with a claw hammer. He’s in good spirits today because he’s left his job – don’t get me wrong, he loved it, but it’s a new adventure see? I’ll touch on that another time because tonight I want to chunter on about our holiday. Can I remember the details? Of CORSICAN. It’s exactly that level of shit-hot humour you bloody love.

The last time I wittered on about Corsica, I told you about how lovely the villa was, how appalling my French was and how I managed to make a complete tit of myself in the middle of a French supermarket only to be shouted at and admonished by a merrily-whiskered lady behind the till. I’m not going to write chronologically about what we did going forward because frankly, we spent an awful amount of time sitting around doing nothing other than eating bread and relaxing in the sun.

That was my first downfall. See, I managed to burn myself in the sun. I’m always so careful to protect myself against the sun (health anxiety, remember), and despite previous times when I’ve turned myself blue by applying too much sun-screen, I slicked it on with gay abandon. Listen, I’m a Geordie – we don’t do bronzed and golden, we do either Philip Schofield’s hair white or alarming-boil-red. There’s no middle ground. I’m a big guy and I take a lot of sunscreen to cover me (I did think it would be quicker to use one of those hoses so dramatically employed in decontamination chambers) but I thought I had it licked. Nope. After three hours of merrily splashing around in the pool and sizzling gently on the sun-lounger, I noticed that my right buttock was a trifle sore.

This isn’t uncommon – I use my bum-cheeks most of the day, so a little tenderness can be expected. Normally Paul just needs to tilt me to relieve the pressure. But no, this was a more serious pain – I had managed to half of my arse a charming post-box red. You genuinely don’t realise how much your arse touches something until it feels like it’s been pressed against the door of an industrial kiln for a few moments. Every sit was uncomfortable, every walk a mixture of chaffing and sadness. Plus, in my mind, my arse now resembled a block of Neapolitan ice-cream, only far less delicious. Paul had to spend five minutes gently kneading my buttocks with after-sun to bring comfort – it may have looked slightly erotic if it wasn’t for me yelling that he was catching my arse-hair in the metal clasps of his watch.

Now now, don’t get preachy, most men have a hairy button, it’s just a fact of life. Paul was once climbing naked into the shower when I ran into the bathroom and clipped a clothes peg to his bum-hair for a laugh. I managed to just nip his sphincter in the peg mechanism. Well, honestly. I’ve never heard him scream so loud – there would have been a less dramatic response had I shot his foot off with a sawn-off shotgun. He didn’t speak to me for the rest of the day and it was only after I bought him a 1kg bar of Dairy Milk from Amazon and allowed him to delete all my favourite programmes from the Sky Planner that his frostiness melted. 

That was me injured. Paul’s turn now. Dotted around the pool were three metal ‘hammocks’ which were shaped like open metal balls suspended from a frame. You can see them here:

Casa_Julia_LowRes_Sept14_SH_02 (1)

Lovely yes? I declined to get into them as I was worried the chain would snap under my weight and well, I hate to hear metal scream, but Paul is lighter and more daring so flung himself into one with gay abandon. As if we could manage any other kind of abandon, dearie me. He swung around for a bit until he realised he was going to struggle to get out, given he’s only got little legs and the ball shape didn’t lend itself to an easy exit. I watched as he valiantly declared he’d found a way off only to swing the entire frame over and land, quite literally, flat on his face, with the frame of the hammock smacking his on the back of the head a moment later. I couldn’t tell if the loud ‘ooof’ came from me, his mouth or the air escaping from his fat, but it was hilarious. Me being a conscientious, kind-hearted husband couldn’t do a jot for laughing – indeed, I laughed so much from the deep-end of the pool that I almost drowned myself (that’ll teach me) and he lay for a good few seconds before laughing and moving. I’d be a shit paramedic – anything faintly slapstick and they’d be declaring death whilst I stood around slapping my knees with merriment. Perhaps it was karma from when something similar happened to me in Dobbies – we just don’t do well with hammocks.

Once we’d wiped the tears from our eyes (mine tears of laughter, his tears of blood and ocular fluid) we took a moment to decide what to do and decided on a spot of lunch. I was clearly so upset and fraught with the worry that Paul’s skull was filling with blood from his massive internal injury that it was really all I could do to take myself off for a long shower whilst Paul set about cutting up cheese and putting rocket in a bowl – well, it makes it easier to scrape into the bin later on. It was just as Paul was bending down (naked, remember) to get something from the crisper drawer when our rep appeared at the open living room door with a loud ‘HELLO’. Paul, mortified, spun around on his heel and clutched a tea-towel to his genitals (the same tea-towel I later saw him cleaning my wine glass with – which explains why I wondered if we were having Brie with our sauvignon blanc later on). Paul doesn’t do exhibitionism (even though he should, because he’s lovely), unlike me. I’m not fussed when I’m on holiday, I’ll cheerfully flop it out if it saves me carrying my swimming knickers to the beach.

I don’t swear ‘swimming knickers’ I hasten to add, I just like how that sounds in my head’.

What followed (I had taken a moment to stop murdering Cher’s greatest hits in the shower in order to gleefully listen) was a toe-curling exchange where Paul, frozen behind a breakfast bar with only a tea-towel and a packet of Pringles to hide his modesty, had to exchange polite conversation about how to turn off the pool alarm and where to leave the towels whilst the rep looked absolutely everywhere but his body. The rep was lovely mind, don’t get me wrong, and he had the good grace not to shout ‘YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LET CATTLE IN’ to me as I came out of the shower towelled and pleasant. He then explained that as a gay nudist he had seen it all before, as though Paul was some spectacle designed to be peeped at through a hole in the door. In another world it may have been the beginning of a raunchy Xtube video but not ours – Paul was so shocked and frightened that he had to have half of my sandwich just to calm down. 

I appreciate that this reads like some campy seventies farce but, as Mags is my witness, it’s the truth. Worst part of it all? Paul was so distracted by not accidentally showing the rep his lid that he paid no attention as to how to turn off the pool alarm, and MAN was that alarm sensitive. Each morning we’d be woken by it screeching away if a leaf tumbled in or a water-molecule split. I swear I sighed once in bed at the other end of the villa and it was away, wailing and blaring like a rape alarm. Our poor neighbours. Whilst we couldn’t see anyone nearby – it was forest that surrounded us – we knew there were people close-by by the laughter and sound of cars crunching over gravel. Knowing us, we were probably perched at the end of a housing estate or a nursing home and several dozen Corsican families were being treated daily to the sight of our naked buttocks (mine a fetching red) as we climbed in the pool. Ah well. Not like we’ll ever see them again. 

Final tale before I sign off for the night. We did a very British thing indeed. Perhaps not British, actually, but rather the domain of the bone-idle. We decided halfway through the holiday to have a trip along the island to the port town of Bastia, a good three hour drive away (taking into account Paul’s need to stop every thirty minutes for a dump as we entered somewhere new). We planned the route the night before, made a couple of sandwiches for the car, set the alarm – all ready. We were in the car and making excellent time by around 8am. We’d researched local museums and excellent restaurants to try on our day out, oh what a lovely day. Hmm. The reality of it was that we drove for three hours and then couldn’t find a parking space. Not one. The French seem to park their cars like they’re dashing into maternity wards and haven’t a moment to lose. Every side street is an obstacle course of Corsican Corsas, with cars parked parallel, flush and across the road. I couldn’t understand it and the rage built up in me to such an extent that I yelled ‘WELL FUCK THIS’, did a 76 point turn in the middle of a one-way street and immediately revved the hell out of Bastia. Bastia? More like BASTARD. 

It might have been a lovely town full of curios and wonder, but all we saw of it was the back of a tour bus and the interior of a very large supermarket where we stopped for a calming round of bread and cheese. We’d managed the equivalent of driving to Durham from London, stopping at a Tesco Extra, buying a loaf of bread and driving home. The drive home was fairly silent – Paul slept, and I spent most of the time with my eye twitching and a renewed dislike of the world.  I did switch the radio on but frankly it sounded like I’d tuned into a cockfight so that was snapped off in anger too. 

I was at least reassured that when recounting this tale to a friend that she had done exactly the same, right down to the stopping at the supermarket on the way back. Phew.

We’ll leave it there. French Zombies are here. Before I go, tonight’s recipe is a Slimming World friendly moussaka. You’ll enjoy it! Bit of a clart on making it, no fib, but it’ll be tasty. Serves 4. You could make it with beef mince – lucky we chuck in three big bags of extra lean in our Musclefood deal, found RIGHT HERE (and don’t worry, it opens in a tidy new window so you won’t lose me forever).

slimming world moussaka

to make slimming world moussaka you’ll need:

  • 500g of extra lean minced lamb if you can find it – our butcher does lean lamb and we use that, but they also sell it in Tesco
  • 60g of extra mature cheddar, grated (2 x HEA)
  • 500g pasatta
  • 2 medium aubergines, cut into slices and dipped into lemon juice to stop them going brown
  • a couple of large potatoes
  • 1 bog standard carrot, diced finely
  • tin of tomatoes
  • 1 courgette, diced finely
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed and minced (yep: USE ONE OF THESE MAN, YOU’LL SAVE SO MUCH)
  • 1/2 tsp of ground chilli, 1/2 of cinnamon, 1/2 of rosemary if you can find it, 1 tsp of oregano and 1 tsp of thyme
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • beef stock made from a decent stock cube
  • half a tub of bloody Quark
  • 2 tbsp of fromage frais (make sure syn free else Maggie May will be livid)
  • bit more cheese, just to make it nice

and then to make slimming world moussaka you should (deep breath):

  • actually, look, it isn’t so bad, so get on with it
  • peel, slice and par-boil the potatoes until they are soft with a hint of rigidity, like a randy old bloke’s schlong;
  • take your slices of aubergine and stick them up yer arse and grill them in a fancy griddle pan or normal pan until they’re charred
  • hoy a bit of salt on them
  • cook your onions in another pan until soft, then add everything else in – mince, spices, garlic, courgette, stock etc – and cook for thirty minutes low and slow until it’s really thick;
  • whilst doing that, beat together the Quark, fromage frais, some cheese, salt and pepper and the yolk of an egg into a thick pale yellow sauce
  • assemble – mince mixture, then aubergine, potato, bit of white sauce (fnar fnar) rinse and repeat – you might not get many layers if you have a big dish, but so what? Just do what you can
  • throw cheese on the top and put in the oven for around half an hour, making sure it doesn’t burn
  • add more cheese at regular intervals until you’re satisfied and smiling
  • serve!

Coo, I’m knackered.


slimming world ikea meatballs and gravy

Not going to lie – these were bloody amazing! My favourite bit about going to IKEA, other than causing arguments amongst other couples and farting in cupboards, is getting a plate full of meatballs and chips. I don’t care that the meatballs are probably made from reindeer anus and chipboard, they taste delicious and I’d cheerfully bathe in the gravy. Even the addition of that shitty bit of parsley doesn’t ruin my meal like it normally does, now that I know it serves a purpose (the size of the parsley sprig is used to signify whether you have a large, medium or small portion of meatballs, so that the cashier doesn’t have to count how many meatballs you’ve got!). So Paul was tasked with doing a bit of research and we’ve managed to find a recipe and tailor it so it is possible on Slimming World. Nevermind a platinum Body Magic sticker, I frankly think we should be given an OBE each. Scroll down for the recipe, but if you want, stick around for a bit beforehand – I’ve got more to tell you about our trip to Corsica…

…when I last signed off, we were asleep with a puck of beef resting in our stomach. I reckon it’s still in there. We woke ridiculously early to give us enough time to walk the 27 miles to the Pod, only to have to walk back and get a code from reception before they’d open the gates. Nothing says ‘home comforts’ like a prison gate to get out of your hotel. The Pod remained amazing and we were in Terminal 5 in moments. I’ve never flown from Heathrow despite having done a fair bit of travelling, so it was all very new and exciting. Ah wait no, sorry, it was dull and tedious. I know airports are never the most exciting of places, but I get the impression that unless you were minted, the terminal wasn’t really for you. It’s still better than Newcastle Airport mind, but that’s more due to the fact Newcastle Airport consists of a couple of bars, a duty free shop and some toilets that haven’t been cleaned since the days of me being an early teenager and buying condoms from the machine on the wall because my then-f’buddy was too worried. Ha! Plus it’s invariably full of at least 2,000 pissed up Geordies who think they’re sophisticated because they’ve got a Stella Artois moustache at 4.30am in the morning. Oh honestly you know I’m right.

We decided on a light breakfast in The Pilot’s Lounge, so-called because I went up-a-height when I saw the price. The waitress – a smile wearing a tabard and sensible shoes – forgot to give me my pot of tea, my toast and my hash-brown. It’s alright though, I forgot to give her a tip, so that balances things. You know how I can’t go anywhere without immediately discovering a new enemy? I’d barely buttered Paul’s toast when I overheard an American chap behind me LOUDLY telling everyone south of Manchester how ‘TERRABUL’ the coffee was in England. Oh it was just ‘AWFUL’ (though he was strangling every vowel as he spoke). I couldn’t eat my breakfast because my teeth were grinding so hard diamonds were falling out of my nose. I’m a proper moaner, don’t get me wrong, but I’m awfully British about it – I’ll twist my face to Paul about something that has upset me, but I’ll wait six months and bring it up in the bath or something. He went on – it was all I could do not to hurl Paul’s tea in his oily face. Listen, I’ve been to America and I’ve had what passes for coffee there – it looks, smells and tastes like what I’ve bled out of my radiators. When he wasn’t moaning he was hacking away, coughing up phlegm like it was jet-fuel. No discreet coughs into a hanky for this chap, no, he preferred to let us listen to his chest echo and rattle. No wonder the coffee didn’t taste good, chum, it has to sink through eight yards of lungbutter to get to your stomach. Fucker. 

Having finished breakfast and realised to our absolute horror that there wasn’t so much as an arcade for me to throw a month’s wage into, we settled down for the two hours before our flight. Thankfully, I had my new phone, old phone and iPad to entertain me, so I just sat on one of the departure lounge chairs with them spread out in front of me like I was on the lowest budget version of 24 you could imagine. Paul ate a Toblerone. OF COURSE, though, the horsefucker from the restaurant was on our flight. Of course! So we had two hours of boredom punctuated by him mining for phlegm. Lovely. My sigh of relief when they opened the gate almost blew the Newcastle to London Cityjet service over. The good thing about flying British Airways is the allocated seating – I can’t bear the undignified scramble for seats you get with the likes of easyJet and Ryanair. I don’t understand it – it’s not as if the flight attendants are going to auction off the spare seats if you’re not jammed in the bloody doorway one minute after the gate opens. 

We promptly boarded the plane and, as expected, immediately brought the average age of the passengers on board down by around thirty years – everyone, to an absolute fault, was ancient. I wouldn’t have been surprised if British Airways had removed the back toilet and fitted an onboard crematorium. Normally I watch the safety demonstration like my life depends on it (boom boom) but I didn’t bother – it was clear from the amount of creaking hips and whistling hearing aids that if the engine had caught fire and we needed to evacuate post-haste, both Paul and I would perish in the flames whilst Elsie in 22A blocked the aisle putting her good teeth in and trying to get the inflatable slide to come out of the toilet door. We did have a chuckle when the exceptionally posh older chap sitting behind us dropped something on the floor and burst out with the loudest ‘FUCK’ I’ve ever heard. My ears were still rippling as we flew over Nice. I love it when posh folk swear with gusto. 

The pilot came on the radio (you’d think that would make it hard to grip) and announced that it would be a smooth flight all the way to Corsica and that it was gorgeous and sunny. Excellent! I like to hear the hairs on my leg crinkle when I get off the plane when I’m on holiday. Go hot or go home, or something like that. I don’t know the hip sayings, I’m in my thirties now. Oh fuck I’m old.

As usual when I fly, I spent the entire time on the runway thinking about how it would feel if my face was burned off when the fuel tank exploded or what sound the bones in my leg would make as they were concertinaed by the crumpling metal of a crashing 737, but as soon as we were airborne I was fine and only concerned with making sure I didn’t miss out on the onboard snack, which turned out to be a croissant I could have shaved with and a plastic cup of orange water. Delicious! I still ate every last crumb whilst moaning about it to Paul. Our flight attendant was charming but looked like Missy from Doctor Who, which was a little alarming, because I did expect her to wrest the controls from the pilot and ditch us into the sea. 

The flight itself was uneventful, bar for a tiny bout of turbulence as we flew over the bottom of France which shook a few pair of dentures loose, and we disembarked in Figari after only two hours. Figari Airport is absolutely tiny and only seems to appear once the plane is low enough for me to look for a four-leaf clover amongst the grass. It was in no time at all that we were off the plane and through what was ostensibly called security but actually amounted to nothing more than a very handsome Frenchman saying bonjour to me and oppressing his smirk at my bong-eyed passport photo. Paul held us up with his pressing need to have a poo as soon as we arrive anywhere new (I touched on this when I wrote about our visit to Germany – it’s like a nervous tic he has) and we were forced to wait behind M. Physema in the AVIS car hire queue.

The car hire process was unpleasant, not least because I had to listen to the guy in front churning his lungs for a good thirty minutes before we got anywhere. The unpleasant shrew behind the counter barked at me in what I’m not even sure was French, hurled a set of paperwork at me like I’d murdered her child and then spat in the general direction of a trillion parked cars and sent me on my way. I don’t think I managed one word other than a cheery bonjour which might have caused her ire. We trundled our suitcases down to the little garage only for someone else to shout inexplicably at us. At this point, we were a little deflated, and when someone finally drove a car around to us my spirits didn’t lift. It was a Peugeot 208. A new one, yes, but I’ve had farts with better acceleration. Plus, Paul and I are big guys and a tiny car doesn’t quite suit our ample frames – I’ve never had to pour myself into a car like a glob of wax in a lava-lamp. Nevermind. They clearly hadn’t cleaned the car either given there was someone’s chewed off fingernail sitting on the dash. I made a mental note to leave a skidmark on the back seat and cracked on.

We didn’t have the language skills to argue or beg a better car, plus I got the impression that had I gone back to the rental desk and complained, my face would have been taken off by the tongue of the angry pickled Nana Mouskouri lookalike behind the desk. So we set off, slowly. Oh so slowly. The road away from Figari airport takes you up a fairly steep hill and clearly I overstretched the car because it stalled on the first hill. Superb! Thankfully I was so distracted by trying to master driving this shitbox that I forgot all my worries about driving on the right, which was a relief given I’d built it up into being a terrifying experience in my mind.

Actually, a serious note. If you’re nervous about driving on the other side of the road, don’t be. It comes very naturally – the only thing of concern were the roundabouts, of which there are many, and the fact that absolutely no fucker indicates. Not one! Joining a roundabout becomes a terrifying guessing game of intentions and given the average Corsican drives like the interior of their car is on fire and they’ve got a mouthful of petrol, you really do just need to take your time.

Yes, the driving leaves a lot to be desired (or, another view, they all know the roads so well that they know where they can afford to take chances) – quite often on a mountain pass you’ll be faced with someone hurtling towards you in a little Renault, fag in one hand, phone in the other, steering the car with their blanket of chest hair, leaving you with the choice of a solid wall on one side of the road and nothing but air on the other. Best of all is the look of absolute astonishment that they’ve found someone coming towards them on the opposite side of the road. I’m not a religious man but there were more than a few times I just shut my eyes and prayed for the best. It’s not uncommon for someone to overtake you on a blind corner or on the crest of a hill and to blur alongside the car shouting something terrible. I finally discovered what it must feel like to have me driving up behind you effing and jeffing. What am I like. Our villa awaited, but my fingers are bleeding now, so I’ll stop for the night. Here’s the recipe!

IKEA meatballs

Note that we served this with mashed potatoes, rainbow carrots and tenderstem broccoli. We’re making a bit of an effort with our 1/3 speed rule and if we come up with a fancy recipe for anything like that, I’ll be sure to include it.

to make IKEA meatballs and gravy, you’ll need:

  • 500g turkey mince
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp each of oregano, paprika and rosemary
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp quark
  • 450ml stock (made with 2 beef stock cubes)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour (4.5 syns)
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

Don’t sweat it too much regarding the herbs. Go for fresh, always better, but dried is fine! I’m going to call it 1 syn – you don’t use all of the gravy, but it’s up to you.

to make IKEA meatballs and gravy, you should:

  • sort out your sides – potatoes, broccoli, the gayest carrots in the world, whatever you like
  • in a bowl mix together the mince, half the nutmeg, rosemary, oregano, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and half the parsley then divide the mixture and roll to make about thirty meatballs
  • spray a large frying pan with a little Frylight and cook the meatballs until cooked through and browned – better to cook them nice and hot to get a brown crust – urgh, crust
  • transfer the meatballs to a plate to rest and let the meatballs pan cool a little…then…
  • add the quark and 2 tbsp of the stock
  • mix well until the quark is softened and melted
  • add the mustard powder, worcestershire sauce, the rest of the nutmeg and cornflour
  • mix well until you have a smooth, thick paste
  • add the rest of the stock and cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens (you can gradually increase the heat if you wish to speed the process up, but be a kind and gentle lover and watch for signs of the mixture splitting)
  • transfer the meatballs to the pan to warm through
  • serve!

If you feel the need to have a hot-dog for dessert to complete the IKEA experience, I won’t judge.

Though, I’m always judging.


chicken and pepper pizza vs goat cheese, spinach and mushroom pizza

Before I get started with my quick tale of two pizzas, I just want make a quick plea. Listen carefully. If you’re on facebook and your finger is about to click the mouse button to share a picture with some trite homespun bit of wisdom, take a moment. Think about what you’re posting. If it’s in Comic Sans, it’ll be bollocks. If it ends ‘97% of my friends won’t share it but TRUE FRIENDS WILL’ then don’t do it. If you actually think there’s some poor little bugger sat in a cancer ward somewhere with doctors standing busily counting likes on a facebook status, with the chemotherapy drugs collecting dust in the corner until a post gets over one million likes, then you’re an actual moron and should be shot with shitty shite.

I raise this because I logged onto facebook before and was confronted with a picture of what looked like a xylophone with a dog’s head on it and turned out to be something even worse – a starved and beaten dog. It was horrific and upsetting and I reacted the same way any decent human being would do by recoiling in disgust. The accompanying caption read ‘SHARE IF YOU ARE AGAINST ANIMAL CRULTY (sic) OR IGNORE IF YOU LOVE IT’.

I mean, what a bloody thing to come out with. First of all, if I was a lover of animal abuse, I don’t think I’d nail my colours to the mast (probably using a dog to bang the nails in) by announcing it on Facebook by actively deciding not to share something. Secondly, it’s an abhorrent thing to use such a shocking photo just to get more likes on a status. It’s like those chain letters that people used to get their clappers in a froth over way back when, only more sinister. Consider that before you share dross and put your friends in a difficult position.

Oh and whilst we’re on the topic of facebook again, if you happen to notice that your profile name contains anything other than your own bloody name, then send yourself to the foot of the stairs and have a think about what you’ve done.

Tonight’s recipe is a comparison – we were given a Musclefood pizza to try (chicken and pepper) as part of our smorgasbord of treats to take for a spin. The idea of pizza on Slimming World is enough to make anyone’s legs quiver, but realistically, you can’t have a ‘decent’ pizza unless you really blow your syns. However, this comes close to being acceptable and I’ll tell you why in a moment. But fear not: because I’m an impartial, generous guy – and also because I didn’t want to share my pizza with Paul, I made an alternative pizza-esque creation which is syn free and equally delicious. So you can make your mind up!

Musclefood chicken pizza

This is the Musclefood pizza, available here. It’s 10.5 syns for the whole pizza and actually isn’t bad! I was expecting something akin to sucking on a square of carpet but no, it tasted like a decent, thin-crust pizza. I’d cheerfully recommend hoying a couple in the freezer and then when you’re desperate for a bit of fast food, give them a whirl. They weren’t cheap with the meat, either. You need to understand that isn’t going to be the same as Dominos, and if you’re like us and when the pizza craving hits you need a pizza the size of a combine harvester’s tyre and more cheese on it than a tramp’s toe, this isn’t going to completely satisfy that itch. But if the ten syns stops you spending forty…

Remember, Musclefood are running a promotion for £144 worth of lean meat for £75. Can’t get vexed at that!

Of course, you can make your own – and I’ve come up with a syn-free version that you can wrap your bristly lips around. See?IMG_1919


to make our syn-free pizza, you’ll need:

  • one WW (boo hiss) Love Fibre wholemeal wraps (look for the purple and blue packaging, as you can use this wrap as a HEB)
  • a good handful of spinach
  • a good handful of baby mushrooms
  • 30g of goats cheese
  • half a freshly grated clove of garlic 
  • quark
  • caramelised onions (you’ll find my recipe for those right here!) or, if you can’t be fucked on making those (although it’s totally worth it), just some thinly sliced red onion

to put it all together:

  • thinly slice the mushrooms and drop them into a dry frying pan to let them sweat down
  • add the spinach towards the end and wilt it down
  • take enough quark to cover the wrap and add grated garlic, then spread it over the wrap
  • add dollops of the jam or the red onion, small cubes of the goats cheese, then the spinach, then the mushrooms
  • pop under the grill until the cheese has melted 
  • stuff it down your gob

Listen, you can chuck any old tut onto this pizza. Don’t like mushrooms? FINE. Use chicken. It’s just that easy.

I’m off to watch Bake Off and feel sad that I can’t EAT EVERYTHING.


pimped macaroni cheese

Boo! I had to work late and do overtime tonight so it’s a very quick post from me – just to put today’s American entry where we went to Discovery Cove and we swam with dolphins. Poor bastards. There’s also a wonderful recipe for seriously loaded mac and cheese – nice and American! Of course we had to jazz it up by adding chives, sausages and bacon. Just scroll down.

Hilariously, my book has climbed to #1 in the Amazon’s Gay & Lesbian Travel section. I can’t imagine the competition is especially stiff but still! I KNEW I should have called it ‘Cruising with Gays’. If you haven’t bought it yet, give it a go, it’s a couple of quid and it pays for Paul and I to buy ridiculous nonsense like Thwomp cushions and giant spoons. If you want it, you can buy it here. If not, scroll to get the recipe!


day ten – Discovery Cove and swimming with dolphins

Ah, Discovery Cove day. Booked a long time ago, was I looking forward to it? Not really. I know this is almost blasphemy, but dolphins leave me cold. I think it’s because my sister went through a dolphin phase during the 90s, like most girls, and everything was covered in dolphins. I continued the theme in my teenage bedroom, where everything was covered in seamen. Kaboomtish. That, coupled with having to get my baps out, meant I was a little apprehensive. Nevertheless, we got a taxi and were there in good time, turning up a good half hour early. We had read online that it was worth getting there early to get a good dolphin swim slot in the morning, meaning you could relax for the rest of the day. This done, we were booked for the swim at 10.45.

Breakfast first, then. A good choice, but my buffet-shyness prevented me from getting the full amount I wanted. There’s a cooked breakfast option available but the lady behind the counter looked pretty stern, so I didn’t dare ask for me. There’s also the requisite pastries and cereal if you prefer. We took our time before heading over to the lockers. You are given a little net bag which includes a snorkel, good goggles and suncream – as you’re not allowed to use your own suncream lest it pollutes the water. Then, the tough bit. The wetsuit. Men can either choose from a full wet-suit or a lycra ‘top’, which clings to everything. We did try on the top but it pushed my moobs up in such a fashion that I could no longer see my feet. Ditto Paul. We decided to change into a wetsuit. Jesus. Have you ever tried getting into one of these things, particularly if you’re somewhat rubenesque like Paul and I? It’s like to push water through a cheese-grater. However, ten minutes later, once they had greased us up, we were fine, and dare I say it, the wetsuit was actually the far better choice as it compresses everything in. Clearly the fat was being squeezed somewhere else but I didn’t have any especially big lumps appearing, so it was all good!

Now – time for a serious thought. I read a lot of posts on here about people feeling shy about being fat and not wanting to plod about with it all on show. I’m the same, despite my cool and sexy exterior – quite shy about my jiggly bits. But if you take anything from my trip reports aside from a slight queasiness, know this – you don’t need to worry. I have seen some proper gargantuan heifers over here and no-one ever comments. People might think things in their head but let’s be honest, we all do it. Just remember that you’re never going to see these people again and let it all swing out. Life, and your holiday, is too short to worry about what you look like. But – that said – don’t be setting up a chip pan on the beach, that’s just common.

We spent an hour just drifting around in the lazy river, using our snorkels. The river itself gets to about 8ft in places, but as long as you make sure you can snorkel, you’ll be fine even if you’re a weak swimmer. Paul got the hang of it fairly quickly, but I can’t say I helped him out by sticking my finger in his snorkel-hole. Well, it is a honeymoon. The worst part about being able to breathe and see underwater? Well, you know in programmes like Fat Families or other diet shows, they always show the fat person swimming and all their fat is rippling underwater like an epileptic lava-lamp? That was Paul and I. People didn’t need to throw fish at us whilst we basked, mind.

The river is lovely, full of…stones. Yep, I do think they could gee it up a bit by sticking some little nooks and crannies and things to look at under the water, but it was still a wonderful way to relax. Then – it was time for the dolphin swim. You’re taken into a little tent with your other swimmers, made to sign a disclaimer form to say that any damage or penetration is not Discovery Cove’s problem and then, oh my, the cheesiest video about dolphins ever. It was in this tent that we realised that we were getting proper stink-eye from a woman. She would not let up. I can only assume one of two things:

  • she was jealous because her short, bald husband was not nearly as attractive as mine; or
  • she had finally realised that she was the absolute double of the lampshade-haired cow from those insufferably smug BT adverts – and I really hate those adverts.

Naturally, as Paul and I can’t get through a day without making an enemy, she became ours, and we spent the rest of the day pulling faces at her whenever she passed. Cow. We were led to our dolphin – Calypso – and our trainer. We stroked the dolphin’s belly, avoided her bajingo which was clearly on show, had flapped at and learnt all about the dolphin. It was a fun half-hour, but as we were alongside a family, most of the attention was spent on the little girls getting to stroke the dolphin and what have you. Which is fair enough, I guess. It didn’t help that their father was a proper knob though, he kept asking really smart-arse questions of the trainer and then correcting her! I can’t bear that kind of attitude, there’s no need for it. Thankfully, our British reserve won through, and we were exceptionally polite. My only lament – I didn’t get to throw a fish in its mouth. But to be honest, I get enough of that at home throwing Skittles at Paul to get him to move. After 20 minutes of tricks and chat, it was time for Calypso to pull us back to shore. You swim out about 50ft into deep water, and the dolphin pulls you back in. It was good fun, and Calypso managed valiantly with both Paul and I, though she did have to be put on oxygen afterwards.

After the swim, you’re ushered into another tent to view photos of the happy day. It’s not hard sell as such, but I do feel it could have been done more subtly, especially given the price of the photos. If you have kids, perhaps it would be best to leave them outside at this point so you don’t feel pressured – as I was with Paul, I had no such luck, and we ended up buying four photos. They’re really good as it happens, so it’s fair enough. After our swim, an early lunch. The food is terrific mind, very healthy and fresh. I had a Cobb salad, purely so I could say to Paul that I had a cob on, little realising the size and scale of the salad. In England, I remember when a salad was thick sliced tomato, cucumber, iceberg lettuce and loads of vinegar. Over here, you need to set aside forty minutes just to plow your way through. Delicious mind.

The other two draws for Discovery Cove are the snorkelling bay, where you can swim around with loads of tropical fish and spotted rays underneath you, and the ray pool, where rays swim around your feet. They’re both excellent, save for the fact that Paul got slapped across the arm by an angry ray, which apparently really hurt. Whilst I was laughing, the ray got me too – and it DOES hurt! We got out of there because we could see it was kicking off. There’s plenty of photos we took with an underwater camera, but I can’t stick them online. They’re all very blurry and blue anyway. I did notice some show-offs with fancy underwater cameras. I admit to being jealous of their superior technology, so next time I’m going to navigate the fish pool in an underwater sub. Might mince a few fish whilst I’m doing it, but ah well.

That is how the remainder of the day passed – swimming, sunbathing, getting lots of free ice-cream and beer, and snorkelling about. There isn’t too much to write about because it was just all relaxing, no being dramas or the like. The only notable event was at the end of the day, when we were getting changed – when I pulled the wetsuit from my body it made a massive, loud, wet fart sound, to which Paul – to his credit, stealing a Phoenix Nights joke, shouted ‘And I’ll name that tune in one’ from the shower cubicle next door. Good lad. Shuttle to Seaworld and then onto the I-Ride trolley back to the Four Points, where the night was spent watching Unstoppable on the PPV TV. Good film that. Day over! 

Over and out.

pimped macaroni cheese

serves 4 (generously)

to make pimped macaroni cheese, you’ll need:

  • 250g macaroni (or any type of pasta – we used spirali)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 6 Slimming World sausages, defrosted, skins removed
  • 5 rashers of back bacon, fat removed and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 400ml skimmed milk (6 syns)
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 160g reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated (4x HexA)
  • 125g quark
  • 1 wholemeal brown roll, blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • bunch of chives
  • salt and pepper

and when you’ve got all that, you’d better

  • cook the pasta according to instructions, drain and set aside
  • heat a large pan over a medium high heat and cook the onion until softened
  • add the bacon and sausage meat, stirring frequently to stop the sausage meat from clumping – I used a potato masher to keep the mixture loose
  • add the oregano, paprika and garlic, stir well and remove from the heat
  • in a separate pan add the milk, stock cheese and quark and cook over a medium-low heat, whisking continuously until the mixture is smooth – don’t be tempted to increase the heat – it needs to be quite low
  • add salt and pepper to taste
  • combine all of the ingredients together, mix well and pour into a large baking dish
  • sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and chopped chives
  • cook at 190 degrees for about 20-30 minutes


If you want to save syns, we made a macaroni cheese where the creamy sauce came from butternut squash which was equally as delicious – you can find it here!


american week: bacon wrapped hotdogs

I feel I should warn you – this is a long one. But if you relax, grit your teeth and just persevere, you’ll enjoy it all the way to the end.

Wah-hey! It’s American week, we’ve got our fancy new banner, and you’re actually getting two recipes today, both of which are easy to make. Before we get started though, just something quick. I found a vest in the reduced bin at Tesco today for £2. I don’t wear vests because I don’t have fabulous arms and I feel the world can do without seeing my milky white, hairy shoulders catching the sun. Nevertheless, it’s good for dossing around the house, but the very moment Paul saw me in it he said I looked like Onslow from Keeping up Appearances. So that’s nice, bearing Onslow was a man in his late fifties who had yellow teeth and a very ‘lived in’ face.

The recipes are at the bottom of this page!

American week means I get to step back from writing and rest my fingers for a bit – so in the meantime, I’m going to post seven days from my honeymoon book. We travelled to Florida for four weeks and it was amazing, and I kept a diary because I didn’t want to forget any of it. I know, mushy. If you enjoy it, please do consider buying it – it means a few extra pennies for our Iceland jar see. And it’s only £2. Click here! So, this is day zero…


Day 0 – our wedding and travelling to Florida

Given I’m going to prattle on about Paul and I for oooh…about 50000 words, it seems prudent to introduce us properly, and what better way to illustrate who we are then to talk you through the day I accepted Paul’s ring. Yes, the wedding. We’re not exactly Wills and Kate, though I do have a fabulous arse, but it was a lovely day full of smiles and the perfect start to our honeymoon full of sin, sarcasm and blue sunscreen.

Way back in 2009, also at Disney, I proposed to my stout little barrel of a man and he gleefully accepted. I think it was the fact we were in the middle of a lake and I’d be watching an awful lot of Dead Calm recently that hastened his positive reply. We got honked at by a passing Disney ferry whose inhabitants thought I was down on my knees doing something other than proposing. The nerve. I mean, it wasn’t Christmas! Zip forward to 3 January 2011 and the day before our wedding. Well, the glamour started right from the off with one of the cats deciding to do a dirty protest in the car whilst we ferried him over to my sister to look after. You’ve never seen someone wind a window down quicker than us that day, and because the cat is fearless and would have jumped, he stayed in his messy box all the way to my sisters. It was with tears in our eyes (and Vicks under our nose) to see our pooey little furball depart, but there you have it.

We spent the evening before the wedding in our first treat, a room at the Hotel du Vin in Newcastle. You may think Newcastle is purely the land of bust noses, bare flesh and broken hymens, but we’re more than capable of bringing the class, and this is one of the nicest hotels in the area. I mean, it has a cigar bar attached, for heaven’s sake. Our very first surprise of the honeymoon? We were upgraded to the best suite in the hotel, the Dom Pérignon suite. It was bloody beautiful. It’s the honeymoon suite and I was overjoyed, especially as I had only paid £68 for the room through my shrewd discount plans. A massive thank you to the staff of the beautiful Hotel du Vin, that’s for sure. The room had two bathtubs in the living room, and I think we were in the room for a grand total of two minutes before they were full of bubbles and we were laid in them watching Deal or no Deal on the giant TV and feeling like kings. The bed was wonderful too – it felt like it was 9ft wide – I could lie in it, stretch myself out and STILL not touch the sides. Sometimes I wonder why Paul married me.

After a meal on the Quayside and a romantic stroll back to our room, we settled down to sleep – our last night as bachelors! Here’s a sweet fact for you – in all the time we’ve been together, we’ve never had a night apart. A good start to the marriage methinks! And so…to the wedding!

We had decided a couple of months previously not to have a big do at all, and just a small registry office affair followed by a good dinner. I wish I could say it was for any other reason than the fact we’re both terribly selfish and Northern and thus the idea of spending money to facilitate other people having a good time appals us. Plus, I wanted to avoid the three horrid old clichés of a civil partnership:

  1. non-Scottish men wearing kilts. We know you’re a Mary but let’s not wear a skirt, eh;
  2. rainbow decorations absolutely anywhere. Paul may be the height of a leprechaun but he doesn’t have the cheeky disposition; and
  3. bloody cupcake towers. Nothing cloys my blood faster than this fad for cupcakes. I’m not Polly bloody Pocket. If I had my way, there would only be two cakes allowed – fruit and urinal.

Bah! I’m not casting aspersions on anyone else’s wedding but it suited us to have a small, tidy, manly do. So we did. Well, we did toy with the idea of dressing up like the sisters from Shakespeare’s Sister’ Stay video but we were talked out of it. We became Husband and Husband in Newcastle Registry Office, presided over by an official who was the spit of Annie Lennox, and watched over by our immediate family and good friends. As an aside, my gran was there, and she’s brilliant – despite being 87, she’s thoroughly accepting of our relationship and is always asking after Paul when I call up. I mean, there are limits to her acceptance – I didn’t dare explain what fisting was when she asked me one day after seeing the word on my phone (I might add, someone had texted it in a joke to me, I’m not that FILTHY). It still felt a little bit too formal for me, as I’m not used to someone addressing a suit-clad Paul without adding ‘the defendant’ afterwards. We decamped to SIX, the faffy little restaurant on top of the Baltic. It’s very posh. NOW, we’re not a posh lot, and class McCains as a ‘fancy potato style’ but you have to let your hair down once and a while, even if (as is the case in all the males at the table) you don’t have any.

So, a suitably lovely meal was had, only enhanced by the snotty waiter looking down his nose at us and rolling his eyes when I ordered a couple of bottles of reasonably-priced champagne. Well, reasonably priced for them – paying £65 for a bottle of fizzy cat pee gave me such a cold sweat that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom to calm my shakes. My nana, bless her, didn’t really fancy anything on the menu (I can’t blame her, I’ve never heard two bits of chard, a sliced tomato and a bloody drizzle of balsamic vinegar described as a French Salad before) but they were very good and cooked her up her own individual meal. I stopped short of asking them to put a glass of Banana Complan on ice, though.

After the meal, we went to the pub for an hour, then everyone dearly departed, and our honeymoon officially started. Yes! Back to the flat to really put the bed through its paces by er…putting the suitcases on it and tipping our wardrobe into them. I have to say, it wasn’t the first type of packing that I had planned for the wedding night. We slept, butterflies in our stomach (SIX would call them an amuse bouché) and in no time at all, we were in a taxi being bellowed at by a rather brusque taxi driver who wanted to know the far end of a fart and when it came from. Honestly. I spent the entire trip to the train station trying to hide the fact I was attempting to take a photo of his face on my phone so I would be able to identify who had burgled our house when we were away. Thankfully, that didn’t arise.

Straight onto the train, into the first class carriage (where you too can travel in style with an extra doily and a few crappy biscuits) and we were disappearing over the Queen Elizabeth bridge, saying goodbye to Newcastle from the bridge. Now here’s a tip for you. If you’re coming into Newcastle (or indeed leaving) from the South on the train, don’t look slackjawed to the right and admire all the bridges, but instead, look on the other side of the river, up the Tyne. As you cross the bridge, there’s a little wasteground, and it’s always full of men out ‘badger-hunting’. Yep – whereas most people are taken by the beauty of the moment, Paul and I spent the first minute of our honeymoon journey playing ‘Count the Cruiser’. What larks!

In no time at all, we were in London, our seedy capital. Kings Cross is lovely, yes, but in no time at all we had tubed our way to Victoria and onto the Gatwick Express, heading for the giddy heights of the Gatwick Hilton. What a place! After spending seven years navigating to the hotel from the train station (seriously, we spent so much time walking there that I almost gave up and set up base for the night), we were checked in by a clearly-couldn’t-care-less-customer-divvy and in our room. Grim. I’m not a hotel snob but after spending the night in the Hotel du Vin only two nights ago, the Hilton’s tired brown sheets and tiny bathroom didn’t exactly enamour the soul. After spending only a moment admiring the view (car-parks are just SO fantastic to gaze at), we trekked back to the airport and checked in super-early (is it still Twilight Check-in if it is during the day?) with Virgin Atlantic. We had pre-booked our seats in the bubble but no sooner had we dumped our bags than the lady behind the counter told us we had been moved. Argh! I was too busy trying to work out the best way to hide her body to take in what she was saying, but when I was back at the hotel I checked online and we were RIGHT at the front of the bubble. Get in! Not only do I get to look down at the cattle-class, but I was going to be on first-name terms with the pilot. OK, maybe not THAT close. And we don’t look down our noses at anyone…well…not much.

We spent the evening in the hotel, watching a home movie entitled ‘Britain’s Fattest Man’ starring Timothy Spall. It was very good, even if we didn’t feel a shred of shame stuffing a pork-pie into our gob the very moment he had his fat chopped off. A good nights sleep was had, and we were ready for day 1…introduction over!


Oh how we laughed! So the first recipe is for a berry medley breakfast – we were served something very similar at the Polynesian at Disney, so why not replicate it here?

berry medley

There doesn’t really need to be a guide on what to do, really – I just scooped out a giant watermelon and put all that disgusting, rancid watermelon into the bin. That’s really the most important part, because no-one in their right mind can enjoy watermelon – it’s like sucking on a dishcloth. I’ve had farts with more structure, seriously. Then, fill up the hollow with a selection of berries – in this case I used strawberries, raspeberries, blackberries, a Mary Berry, pomegranate seeds, melon balls and blueberries. I then whizzed some raspberries together with the juice of one lime, mixed the whole lot together, and served with chopped mint. This EASILY serves four and is so rammed with superfree food it brings a tear to my eye. Next…


We had loaded hotdogs at Universal Studios – here we have wrapped the hotdog in bacon but you could easily load it with chilli or tonnes of softened onion. Just do it!

to make bacon wrapped hotdogs, you’ll need:

  • a hotdog bun (now look – dig out wholemeal hotdog rolls, ASDA sell them, but we used a white bun because it looked better for the photo – GASP. The hotdog bun was 38g so I’m calling it a HEB. If you don’t want to do that, that’s OK, just swap out the hotdog bun for a normal HEB breadbun and you’ll be laughing)
  • wasn’t that a lot of bold text? Well I’m a bold guy
  • some cocktail sticks
  • 6 rashers of bacon – now you’ll want decent bacon here, not something that looks like the bottom of a flipflop – you want plenty of meat, fat removed
  • an onion
  • hotdogs or sausages – we used Ye Olde Oake hotdogs jumbo, which work out at 2 syns each, but you could use Slimming World sausages instead, think of ALL THAT FLAVOUR
  • 100g of quark
  • your Heathly Extra allowance of strong cheese (we used Red Leicester and only 35g)
  • whatever side you want, we just did ours with chips because we had so much speed food earlier)

then just do this:

  • cut the bacon into inch long strips and wrap gently around the hotdog or sausage (if you’re using sausages, cook them first – don’t incinerate them but get them to ‘almost done’) – secure the bacon with cocktail sticks
  • pop under the grill for ten minutes or so until bacon is lovely and cooked
  • meanwhile, cut your onion up into small bits and gently saute in a drop of oil or Frylight
  • add chopped bacon from your scrappy bits left over, don’t be adding chunks of fat mind or I’ll slap your legs
  • to make the cheese sauce, carefully heat the Quark through and stir in your cheese – you might need to thin it with a drop or two of milk
  • assemble!

Easy. We had two – an extra finger roll being 6.5 syns, but really it was heavy going, so just have one and fill up on sides! If you use ketchup and mustard, you’re looking at a syn extra per tablespoon or so.

Enjoy! WE’RE OFF!



enchilada fries and a ginger nut

Gosh, it’s been five years since Raoul Moat, our local angry-faced ginger peanut, went on the rampage, shot a policeman and then spent four days shitting in a ditch in Rothbury, until the police came along and cut his hair with a shotgun.

I only mention it because he’s all over our local news again today, which makes a change from pissy-knickered biddies whingeing on about wind turbines. I remember it well – Paul and I were in our Quayside flat and we were out on the balcony, looking fitfully at the bushes below because we were sure that a rampaging murderer would be itching for a riverside view. Our local newspaper Facebook feed is awash with windowlickers saying ‘U CAN’T JUJE HIM HES A HERO’ and ‘U DONT KNOW HOLE STOREY’ and other shite. The walnut-muscled knob shot a fucking defenceless man in the face and the simpletons are making out like he’s misunderstood. Pfft. The human capacity for stupidity knows no bounds.

Hey, tomorrow our week long American week starts. We love a theme week here at twochubbycubs and it seems fitting, being July 4 tomorrow, to have a nice American-themed week. Admittedly we’re bound to cause international eye-rolling with our stereotyping but we’re basing it on our experiences when we were in Florida, where we quite literally had to actively seek out vegetables because the chest pains were getting too much. 

To go alongside this (and to give us a week off from writing) I’m going to post 7 days worth from our honeymoon book as we go along, so if you’ve already been a star and read it, I apologise. If not, buy it now, and keep us in pennies! It can be found here. If you’re a fan of my writing, you should hopefully enjoy it…

We’ve also picked and made contact with the winner of the competition to find all the famous faces – thank you to all who entered and your names gave me a good giggle. God knows where you think I’d hidden Thomas the Tank Engine mind. There will be another competition soon, and just for shits and giggles, I’ve hidden a famous face in tonight’s entry – it’s subtle, see if you can spot her. So here we go, because it’s getting late. These are enchilada fries and really it’s just an even fancier, syn-free version of burger in a bowl, with the added bonus that – unlike burger in a bowl – this doesn’t look like someone’s shot their bolt across a plate of mince and iceberg lettuce.


you’ll need these:

for the chips:

  • 900g potatoes

for the guacamole:

  • 180g frozen peas (defrosted)
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp quark
  • juice of 1 lime

for the tomato salad:

  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • juice of half a lime

for the sour cream:

  • 250g fat-free natural yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chilli pepper flakes

for the steak:

  • half a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 800g beef (in whatever form you like – we chose diced)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 80g grated reduced-fat cheddar

and you’ll need to do this:

for the chips

  • oh, come on now

for the guacamole:

  • add all the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until smooth

for the tomato salad:

  • mix all of the chopped ingredients together and season to taste

for the sour cream:

  • stir all of the ingredients together

for the steak:

  • heat the chopped tomatoes and puree in a sauce pan over a medium-high heat
  • when the mixture begins to simmer remove from the heat and stir in the beef
  • drain off the excess liquid and cook the beef over a medium-high heat to your preference
  • layer all of the ingredients onto a plate and enjoy!


comfort food meatballs with onion gravy and mashed potatoes

Before we get started, can I just tell you something which made my piss rattle this morning – I was driving to work on a particularly bendy, twisty bit of road when some log-gobbler came hurtling towards me on the other side of the road, white BMW, naturally, easily doing 30mph more than she should have been – and she was PUTTING ON MASCARA. Mascara! At speed! I only noticed because she was doing that stupid jaw-on-her-tits mascara face that seems to be obligatory. I couldn’t believe it. The urge to turn my car around and ram it into the back of her shitwagon was immense. How dare she put people at risk on the roads just so she can walk around with big cow eyes? With any luck she’d crash into the River Blyth and impale her walnut brain on her Max Factor wand. Bah! I can’t begin to tell you how much it annoys me seeing people use their phones / do their make-up / complete a 1000 piece jigsaw whilst driving. It’s fine if you want to crash and die, but don’t take me with you just because you’re so keen to post ‘ROFL drivin on motoway mad tunes YOLO‘ on fucking facebook, you insipid tart.

Honestly. I was so angry I couldn’t finish my shave.

Anyway, it seems Paul may have been premature with his ‘but the bathroom isn’t leaking at all’ analysis, as the ‘tiny leak’ is clearly still growing. I’ve become fanatical about measuring the spread of this tiny leak – we’ve marked out the water stain on the chipboard in the hallway (we have carpet, but we pulled it up to view the leak, we’re not that common) and I find myself compelled to check it every time I go for a jimmy riddle I’m down on my haunches staring wildly at the floor. So doubtless that’ll need fixing, which is dreadful because it means having yet more workers in the house.

I can’t cope with other people in my house – I get annoyed when I see myself in the mirror, let alone burly men with rough-hewn hands fingering my coving. We’ve got someone coming to plaster all the ceilings in the house soon, finally getting rid of the fucking Artex that haunts our dream. You know how sometimes Artex can be applied delicately in gentle waves? Not ours. No, clearly the old biddy who lived here before had the Artex applied via a fucking fireman’s hose – I feel like a pea looking up at the top of an abandoned freezer. It’s awful.

We’ve also just had a man come round to see about painting the entire house – all the interiors, the doors, the skirting boards, plus the greenhouse, shed and massive fence that runs along the property. He immediately started asking questions about what type of paint I was wanting to use – I fear my non-macho answer of ‘a subtle white with a hint of colour’ has already set us off on a bad footing, because he looked at me witheringly and said ‘No, matt, gloss or satin’. Well I don’t bloody know, I’m very much a man who pays others to do anything taxing.

We’ve got someone coming to flush our radiators (not a euphemism) and another bloke coming to fit a new boiler, taking away the current boiler which I reckon was salvaged from Titanic. There’s a man coming to fit blinds and eventually there’ll be a scrap-man coming to take away various shite we’ve accumulated. The last scrap man spent ten minutes chewing my ear about not being able to work (pronounced wuuurk) because of a “bad back” whilst hoisting a fucking tumble-drier onto his flat-bed lorry like he was shotputting in the Olympics.

Finally, we’ve got carpet fitters coming to recarpet the entire house, which means the cats have a blank canvas to smear birds across and do secret pisses every now and then just to keep us on our toes. Or indeed, in amongst our toes. They’re generally very good cats who know to go outside, down the garden path and into next door’s garden where they can shit with gay abandon, but every now and then they’ll decide that really the only place worth anointing with half a litre of eye-watering cat piss is next to my shoes, or in a drawer, or, perhaps best of all, all over the top of the Sky-Box in a protest against hearing the Jeremy Kyle theme tune for the 655th time that week. We got rid of that cat in the end – she went to a better place. Under the wheels of my car. No no I jest, she’s up the road turning into a footrest with paws, remember?

So this means, for me at least, weeks of making awkward small talk and worrying that anything I say is going to look like I’m trying to seduce them in some kind of awkward Bangbus-esque scenario. Honestly, it’s something I probably shouldn’t worry about but I’ve seen too many jizzflicks to know this is how so many of them start. Plus I can’t make small talk so I stay away but then I worry about looking standoffish so I spend my time in such a state of anxious flux that I almost want to pay them just to go away. Urgh. So pray for me.

Tonight’s recipe is another meatball recipe, but I reckon this is the best beef meatball recipe yet – they come out soft, moist and packed full of flavour, and what more can you want from a meatball? Plus the thick, onion gravy is full of zip and the mash is…well, mash, but you get the drift. Serve with broccoli to keep it simple. I know you might not feel like meatballs, but listen, we’ve got air-conditioning in our house, we need this to keep from freezing. This meal serves a comfortable four people. It also makes your farts smell delicious.

beef meatballs slimming world

you’ll need all of this:

for the meatballs:

  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 60g tomato puree
  • 3 level tsp wholegrain mustard (1.5 syns)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

for the gravy:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp gravy granules (1 syn)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

for the mash:

  • 5 large potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 125ml skimmed milk (1.5 syns, or HexA)
  • 125g quark
  • an egg yolk (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

and you’ll need to do this:

  • preheat the oven to 190 degrees
  • mixing together all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl
  • shape the mixture into 30 evenly sized balls
  • do a little dance
  • place the meatballs onto a non-stick baking sheet (you can spray a little Frylight if you like, or stop being a loser and use some oil) and bake for about 20 minutes
  • meanwhile, add the potato chunks to boiling water and cook until tender (about 20 minutes)
  • make a little love
  • mash together with all of the other mash ingredients, or to however you like it
  • as those are cooking, prepare the gravy mixture
  • get down tonight (ah-ha)
  • in a large saucepan heat a little Frylight/oil over a medium-high heat and gently sweat the onion until it becomes translucent
  • in a jug or bowl, mix together the stock, worcestershire sauce, gravy granules, salt and tomato puree
  • add the gravy to the onions and stir until thickened
  • add the meatballs to the gravy, coating them evenly and serve on top of the mash
  • if you have delusions of grandeur, you can pop in a sprig of parsley and serve to the oohs and aahs of your adoring family

Enjoy! OH I’ll leave you with this.

cat die


I could be brown, I could be blue! baked spaghetti

Haha, weigh in tonight, and although we couldn’t stay, it was full of surprises – I’ve put on a 1lb after the most dedicated week off you’ve ever seen, which included:

  • more vodka during Eurovision than could be deemed reasonable, despite acts such as Israel and Serbia;
  • two Dominos in one week;
  • a pizza the size of a bus steering wheel followed by ice-cream and sweets and a second dinner when I got home;
  • a complete lack of exercise;
  • cookies, sweets and other nonsense gobbled up at work – and – and this one is shocking;
  • I had CHEESE AND SPICY BEEF on my Subway salad today.

Cheese! I thought since having my pencil sharpened last year I’d seen the end of having cheese on my hot meat, but there you go. Boke. Here, it gets better – Paul actually lost a pound AND he was still wearing his god-awful ‘Yes, I’m a registered sex-offender’ god-awful boots that we bought in the Brantano sale for £2.44. I reckon he’s been stirring ex-lax into his nightly Options. Yes see that’s how rock-n-roll we are in our household – a nightly hot chocolate and then into bed to listen to Radio 4. We do normally fit some blisteringly hardcore gay sex in at some point, all is not lost. Anyway, once we’ve enjoyed the Ben and Jerry’s from the freezer, we’re going to have a good run at SW. In the meantime, here’s a bit about my cats that I wrote earlier today.

I really begrudge having to pay £200 to insure two cats who are healthy, worm-free and trackable. Especially when they’re so spoilt they have their own water fountain and bloody ensuite shed.

Of course, insurance wouldn’t be quite so necessary if our cats didn’t dice with death on a daily basis, and entirely through their own choice. See, they recognise the sound of our car approaching, and the very second they see the bumper of my car appearing at the end of the cul-de-sac where we live, they sprint across the front lawn in front of the car and run ahead of us, like we’re the star attraction in a tiny cat parade. They then proceed to run around the tyres, rubbing themselves up against the scalding chassis of the car, until one of us picks them up and they proceed to turn our face into mince with their razor-sharp welcome. I don’t think they feel we’re home until one of them has left an oily paw-print all over our shirts. They’re also forever eating things they shouldn’t and I’ve seen Sola, the tiny cat, fighting a dog and winning. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn she smokes.

Sola we retrieved from some chav on an estate who was selling kittens on the basis that if no-one wanted them, she was going to leave them by the side of the road. I’d like to have left her by the side of a road, preferably trapped by her legs in a burning labia-coloured Vauxhall Golf, but I digress. We couldn’t drive at the time so we had to take two buses and by the time we got there, she was the last one, the runt of the litter. She meowed the way home and tried to commit instant suicide by falling off the balcony of our apartment. Thankfully, she only fell one floor onto the balcony below, but that made for a slightly awkward exchange because we weren’t talking to the neighbours at the point since we inadvertently told his girlfriend that he was having an affair with someone else. Genuine mistake. We also thought he was belting his lass too, which was wrong. That made for a few difficult bus journeys on the Quaylink, let me tell you.

They missed out not keeping Sola, for although she’s the most uppity bitch you’ll ever meet, she has the nicest fur you’ll ever feel. It’s the type of fur you can imagine ultra-rich women making gloves from. That’s partly because she never lets you stroke her – probably sick of trying to lick gravy and sweat from her fur to even entertain us. She’s the epitome of aloofness although for all of her delusions of grandeur, she’s certainly not averse to sticking her nose right up Bowser’s arsehole like she’s sniffing for truffles whenever he wanders back in from outside.

Bowser is the other cat, the tom, and we also got him from a very downmarket area. We heard on the grapevine that he was one of about ten trillion cats that had been found living in one of those houses you see on Hoarders. We could only take one and so we took the first cat that came over. If we had our way, we’d have more cats than furniture, but we’re realists – I already begrudge spending so much on Bite ‘n’ Chew, and not just because of that rebarbative little ‘n’. He settled in straight away, walking around like he owned the place and battering the other cats until we had his bollocks cut off. Now he comes in each day missing massive chunks of fur from fighting but touchwood, they haven’t got his eyes yet.

We also used to have Luma, and she was a lovely, fat cat who was painfully shy and used to hide, no matter how much coaxing, fresh tuna and fuss you tried to make of her. She had plenty of personality when she wanted to – she held us ransom for about two weeks by pissing on our Sky box because we had the bare-faced cheek to switch her to Tesco own brand cat food. Perhaps she was trying to electrocute herself, I don’t know, but she managed to break my Doctor Who series link so I sulked for a week. Along similar lines, I was once lying in bed and she came bumbling over, wheezing away in that gentle fashion, for a stroke. Naturally, I made a proper fuss of her in this rare moment of tenderness and she turned around, showed me her tiny cigar-cutter bumhole and sprayed a tiny jet of foul smelling nastiness right in my face, before sauntering off as I screamed like it was ammonia. We gave her away to a family friend in the end because she was fighting with our other cat all of the time and she’s far happier now, by herself, with an octogenerian who is too slow to catch her and rich enough to spoil her, though I did spot a packet of Viagra in his bathroom cabinet when I was dropping her off so god knows what she actually sees. No wonder she looks so haunted when I spot her.

baked spaghetti

to make baked spaghetti, you’ll need:

250g spaghetti, 500g lean beef mince, 6 Slimming World sausages (defrosted), two 400g tin chopped tomatoes, 200ml passata, 200g Quark, 80g reduced fat cheddar (grated), 1 green pepper (diced), 1 onion (diced), 3 cloves of garlic, 1 egg, 250ml chicken stock, 80g reduced fat mozzarella (using up two HEAs), 1tsp mixed herbs, salt and pepper

to make baked spaghetti, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • cook the spaghetti according to instructions and set aside. For those who can’t cook spaghetti, don’t forget to breathe in AND out whilst doing this
  • mix the chopped tomatoes, passata and mixed herbs (and a little salt and pepper if you like) in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer whilst you do the rest…
  • meanwhile, chop the green pepper and onion and mince the garlic cloves
  • spray a little Frylight (heathen! use oil!) into a large saucepan and cook the onion and green pepper over a medium-high heat until softened
  • add the garlic and stir well
  • squeeze the meat from the sausages (the casings should be easy to pull away, given SW sausages are essentially toe clippings, best wishes and old newspapers wrapped in a diaphragm) and place in the pan along with the mince and cook until well browned, remembering to break up any clumps that form
  • in a separate bowl mix together the quark, egg and cheddar with a little salt and pepper until smooth
  • pour the tomato sauce into the cheese mixture and stir well, adding 250ml chicken stock and continue to stir
  • in a large pan or bowl, mix together the spaghetti, meat and sauce until really well mixed – don’t worry if it looks a bit watery, it’s a SW recipe – if you can’t drink it without choking, it’s not SW friendly
  • tip into a large casserole dish, top with the shredded mozzarella and bake for 30 minutes
  • enjoy! It’ll thicken down in the oven. Promise.


cajun steak and cheese pasta

Our cat has betrayed me – normally he sleeps between the two of us if it’s a cold night but he’d gotten up early doors and gone out chasing mice. How the hell he manages to spend a night between the two of us I have no idea – we’re very much a ‘spooning’ couple, constantly intertwining our legs and arms and murmuring nonsense at each other. I actually woke up once with Paul having rolled on top of me, not in a ‘but it’s my birthday’ way but rather out of comfort, like I was an especially squashy lilo. Nevertheless, around 1am Bowser will be padding around our pillow and then crawls between us like a tiny potholer. How he survives I have no idea – the squashing I mentioned above must be bad enough, but the flatulence produced between the two of us vents out right where he sleeps. It must be like trying to sleep with your head stuck in one of those Dyson Airdryers you get in toilets, only one that blows out air that smells of turned corned-beef and death. I swear after a night of our easy chicken curry he’ll disappear under the duvet as a black and white tom and comes back a tortoiseshell who suffers night terrors.


Tonight’s recipe has the unfortunate problem of looking exactly like another recipe we did earlier in the week, but what can I say, we’ve missed carbs and we had some steak to use up. Isn’t that a first world problem right there?


to make cajun steak and cheese pasta you will need:

500g penne pasta, 120g steak (sliced into bite size pieces) 1 onion (chopped), 1 green pepper (chopped), 1 clove of garlic, 300ml skimmed milk, 250g quark, 2 tsp Cajun seasoning, 120g extra mature cheddar (grated), 20g parmesan (grated), 50g chorizo (sliced), breadcrumbs (from half a wholemeal roll)

if you use the wholemeal roll and the cheese as your healthy extras (remember, this serves 4) this will be 3 syns per serving, 1.5 from the chorizo, and 1.5 from the milk.

to make cajun steak and cheese pasta you should: 

  • cook the pasta until al dente (like Al Murray, but less of a cock), drain and set aside
  • in a large frying pan or saucepan soften the onion and green pepper in a little oil over a medium heat for about ten minutes
  • add the Cajun seasoning and stir well
  • slowly pour in the milk and stir continuously
  • add the quark in small amounts and mix until smooth and creamy
  • in a separate frying pan quickly cook the steak and chorizo over a high heat for one minute
  • add the steak and chorizo into the cheese mixture
  • add the cheddar and parmesan to the mixture, remove from the heat and stir continuously until all the cheese has melted
  • add the pasta to the mixture and mix well
  • pour the mixture into a large casserole dish, top with the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for ten minutes just to make it sticky.

Now this is proper stick-to-your-ribs cooking and we loved it, but for goodness sake, it serves four. Keep some for your lunch the next day. This with the rice bake from the other day is more than making up our carb deficit and it tasted delicious!

Oh, if you need a casserole dish, get a bloody Le Creuset one. We’ve had ours over two years now and yes, it is very expensive, but we use it daily – as a frying pan, to cook in, to roast in, and it’s never stuck or failed us. They’re £160 on Amazon at the moment. Click here and treat yourself! Do you need something so pricey? No. But you kinda want one…