caprese sausage stuffed pasta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

click here for part one 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


caprese sausage stuffed pasta caprese sausage stuffed pasta

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you will need:

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

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

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you should:

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

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

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J

half a syn black pepper steak stir fry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The glamour!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

to make black pepper steak stir fry you will need:

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

for the marinade

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

for the sauce

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

for the stir fry

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

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

to make black pepper beef stir fry you should:

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

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

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

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Enjoy!

J

instant pot pork and sweet potato chilli con carne

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

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

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

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

twochubbycubs go to Cornwall – part five

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

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

Padstow

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

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

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

We left, disappointed.

Newquay

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We left, disappointed.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We left, disappointed.

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

Honourable mentions:

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

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

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

Overall

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

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


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

to make pork and sweet potato chilli you will need:

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

to make pork and sweet potato chilli you should:

Instant Pot method

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

Bog standard in the oven job method:

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

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

Looking for more recipe ideas? But of course!

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Enjoy!

J

risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese

Now then: does the risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese get you all of a-tingle ‘down below’? Are you chewing the seat with anticipation? Then by all means scroll down, but first, part six of our Swiss tales – part seven is the final entry and that’ll be coming online soon, but I’ve got such a bad habit of not finishing our travel stories that I’m determined to see this one out. Remember, this is holiday zero of twelve this year: this is a bonus one! Oops.

part one | part two | part three | part four | part five

Bern, then.

You last left us as we fell off the train in Bern, completing a ridiculously scenic yet slightly tiring eight hour trip around Switzerland by train. You need to understand that this was easily the most beautiful train journey we’ve ever done (though that’s not an especially high benchmark – I can’t imagine the Metro journey from South Shields to Shiremoor making many bucket lists) but even in the face of such beauty, you find yourself dozing off. My eyebrows were aching from raising in delight. The last entry dealt with our first night in Bern and a couple of day trips, but I did say I’d revisit this to tell you a little more about Bern itself. But before we begin, here’s Paul as a biscuit:

Firstly, did you know it’s the capital of Switzerland? I have to admit, I thought the capital was Geneva, but no – little Bern holds the title. On the edge of your seat yet? You ought to be: clamp down whatever pair of lips you’ve got available and hold on because here’s another riproaring fact for you: it’s also known as the City of Fountains due to the many ornate fountains dotted around. By extension, Newcastle should be called the City of Broken Teeth, or Southend the Land of the Split Hymen.

No, let’s be fair, there are an awful amount of fountains everywhere, to the point where you’re constantly needing a piss thanks to the incessant background noise of tinkling water. Hilariously, one of the fountains, the snazzily named Kindlifresserbrunnen, depicts an ogre eating little children. I assumed it must just be a metaphorical take on child cannibalism but nope, there it is, proud as punch, standing in the centre of the Kornhausplatz, with the body of a devoured child sticking out of his gob. It’s what I imagine Theresa May has in her front garden to keep the local peasants away from her gooseberries.

Like Geneva, it’s obligatory to smoke – I never left a building without feeling like I was the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, appearing from doorways in a flourish through the whirling cloud of fag smoke. The main area of Bern is called the Old City of Bern and it is this you’ll be familiar with – the Medieval buildings, the chocolate-box shops literally selling chocolate boxes and dozens of tiny shopping arcades and cobbled streets where the buildings above actually hang over the walkways. It’s all exceptionally twee and stunning to look at – so much history and culture in one glorious settings – and thus it was inevitable that the first shop Paul and I would enter was a seedy sex shop on the main arcade.

Well: gosh. It was dark around the back of the shop and the air heady with poppers – I put my hand out to steady myself on a bannister only to hear a loud groan of pleasure. We didn’t like to loiter because it looked like the type of place that was due a raid from the vice squad and so we made to leave. On our hasty exit out of there we spotted a fondue shop just over the road and made a mental note to return to it later.

I mean, look at this astrological clock on the Zytglogge..It’s beautiful. Paul stopped to use the pissour nearby and I shouted ‘I can see Uranus!’. The crowd went mild.

We spent the rest of the morning just casually walking around Bern – it’s a pleasantly compact place and the streets lend themselves to just exploring, though you can hop on the trams if you like. There’s a tram every half second, seemingly. We crossed the River Aare (presumably so called because you’re constantly going ‘Aare, that’s reet beautiful that is‘) via the Nydeggbrücke bridge (itself an absolute beauty, not least because it gave you a perfect view of Old Bern). Paul took a photo:

I spotted signs for the Bärengraben – a bear park.

Now come on – if there’s anywhere that’s going to pique my curiosity, it’s a heavily wooded area supposedly filled with bears roaming around looking for action. I’d already lubed up and adopted the ‘airport security check’ position when Paul pointed out that it wasn’t bears in the sense of hairy, older gay men, but rather the ursine variety. The ones that kill and steal honey. I tried to hide the disappointment as it cascaded across my face and we headed over. Also, we had a brief conversation there and then about at some point having to change the name of the blog when we’re no longer classed as cubs – I’m already in the grey area – we’ll be known as two burly bears. See, always thinking ahead.

There’s many varying accounts of why Bern has live bears frolicking about, but the most widely accepted idea is that Bern’s soldiers returned home from a wee skirmish in Italy with various spoils and er, a live bear. Christ, I thought I was doing well coming home from Rome with 200 Chesterfields smuggled down my trousers. Anyway, since then, they’ve always kept a few bears in the bear-pit. Don’t worry, they’re well looked after – lots of bedding, room to scratch about it and occasionally they’ll hurl a particularly noisy tourist in there for them to maul. Oh how excited I was to see them – I love bears!

Except, no, they’d been put away for the winter, like a set of Christmas decorations. We were told we could watch them via a webcam but frankly, I get enough action watching bears in bed on the internet at home, I didn’t need to see it. We still wandered about stroking our chins at the information boards and trying out the new lift for the disabled, then we made our way down to the banks of the river and had a walk along.

A quick mention of the weather: it was my absolute favourite: freezing cold but not biting, air so fresh it’d like you’ve sucked it out of Tom Hardy’s freshly Sminted lungs, sunlight bouncing merrily off every surface and the sky a deep blue. I love winter and this was just the place to experience it. Paul somewhat broke the moment by telling me to get my fat ankles walking a little quicker as he needed the toilet and had spotted a public lavatory on the horizon. Other people visit churches and cathedrals on holiday – Paul seems to class a holiday as a failure if he hasn’t evacuated his bowels in various ways four times a day.

Paul disappeared into the gents and I stationed myself nearby, loitering in a way that I hoped didn’t make me look like a pervert hanging around the bogs but wanting to be near enough in case of any emergencies. Paul managed to snap the lock off a toilet door once and as a result I’m always on edge. Fifteen minutes – I kid you not – passed before he came hurtling out, telling me to come and have a look at something. I protested, naturally – I mean, we’re a close couple, but I do have limits, and anyway what did he want me to do, stick a first prize rosette in it? He pulled at my shoulder and dragged me in.

I have to admit, I’ve never seen one quite like this. I took a video of it to send to my work colleagues, and Paul was so excited. He loves anything unusual! I’m glad he did call me into the toilet because frankly, I didn’t want to miss this! I mean, just watch:

How fun is that? OK look, to anyone else, it’ll probably be nothing, but we love anything gadgety and this way, you’re not having to sit on someone else’s arse-sweat to do your business. A miracle! And in a public loo! In the UK you count yourself lucky if you’re not sitting on a filthy syringe. You can tell they are well off!

After we’d finished shrieking and gasping we emerged from the toilet together, and after only a forty minute interview with the police, we were free to get on with the morning. We spent the morning visiting the cathedrals (stunning) and churches dotted about, making sure we signed the visitors book with ‘Too much body of Christ this winter? Try www.twochubbycubs.com’ before we left. Oh I know, I’m a tinker, but hell, if God is going to strike me down for anything, it’ll be the rampant sodomy, not a bit of advertising.

We eventually made our way back to the tiny restaurant back in the main square to finally try out the Swiss delicacy of fondue. The place was packed full of couples having intense conversations and speaking every language but English. I could barely make my way to the table past all of the glottal stops. I love this type of restaurant – unfussy, homely and a bit ramshackle. All it needed was Paul sitting there without his shirt on spilling his dinner over his tits for me to feel completely at home.

For those that div-not-knaa, fondue is (normally) Gruyère cheese mixed with alcohol and melted slowly over a naked flame – the entire pot is then brought to the table and you’re given cubed things to dip into it. Frankly, it took all of my self-control not to push my entire face into the pot and die a happy man, but I knew easyJet wouldn’t let me through if my face looked like the top of a lasagne.

We ordered Fondue Pesto Rosso – they added sundried tomato pesto and basil, bringing me to full stiffness – with a side of Kalte Gemüsebeilage (bless you) (cold vegetables) and (Kartoffelbeilage) (no no, after you) boiled potatoes for dipping. I don’t need to tell you how delicious it was. There’s lots of etiquette around enjoying fondue – always stir clockwise, do twirl your fork to keep the table tidy, do make some noise. Pfft. They were lucky I didn’t ask for the entire thing to be delivered intravenously.

We spent a happy half hour dipping our bread and scraping every last bit of crusty brown cheese from the bottom of the dish (we weren’t being common, you’re supposed to do it – it’s called ‘la religieuse’ and is a delicacy, promise) and settled back with a loud groan and bellies full of cheese. With the sure and certain knowledge that we’d be pooing Cheesestrings for a good two weeks, we decided not to risk dessert and simply to get the bill.

Well, that sounds easy in print, doesn’t it? I can’t imagine what we had done to our waitress – we’d been unfailingly polite and ho-ho-British – but could we balls get her attention. By this point lunch hour had clearly finished and the place was nearly empty bar us and an elderly lady shaking her way through her seventh kirsch of the day, but help was nowhere to be seen.

We waited politely for almost twenty minutes – our waitress very occasionally popped her head out and stole a glance at us, only to disappear again – and then we started getting distressed. Paul had to google whether there was some unspoken way of showing we had finished and had enough but nothing came up. I did offer to pitch face-first into the pot clutching my heart but he didn’t want to make a scene.

She appeared a good ten minutes later, finally, looking terribly flushed in the face. My working theory: she was letting the chef dip more than a cornichon in her cheese pot. Her bajingo was giving off so much heat that she nearly relit the fondue candle. After paying Paul’s entire annual wage for our meal, we headed back out to explore Bern.

That was the idea, anyway: we actually, oh the shame, had to waddle back to the hotel room and have a nap. We were having the cheese-sweats and Christ we knew about it. That seems like a good point to leave it!

Speaking of cheese, shall we get to this delicious risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese? Shall we? Then let’s not delay a moment more.

to make risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese you will need:

  • 2 pints chicken stock
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ head celery, finely chopped
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 2 handfuls of thyme leaves, chopped (or 3 tsp of dried thyme will do)
  • 50g soft goat’s cheese (8 syns)
  • 105g extra light soft cheese (this is one HEA, by the way)
  • 25g pecorino (5 syns) (if you don’t have pecorino, parmesan, parigiano reggiano or grana padano will do just as well)
  • 6 slices prosciutto, torn up (3 syns)

I’m not a huge fan of celery but it actually adds something to this dish, so leave it in. This comes in at 4 syns each, so it does Elizabeth.

to make risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese you should:

  • in a bowl, mix together the goats cheese and soft cheese until well combined, then put in the freezer to firm up whilst you do the rest
  • heat a little oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat
  • add the onions, garlic and celery and fry slowly for about 4 minutes
  • add the rice to the pan, stir well and knock the heat up – keep stirring for about a minute
  • add the thyme
  • add a ladleful of stock and stir until it’s absorbed – stir the rice gently
  • keep adding stock, a ladle at a time, until it’s all gone
  • remove from the heat and stir in the pecorino
  • serve, then drape over the prosciutto and dollops of goaty soft cheese over the top
  • enjoy!

Doesn’t that feel like a proper cheat day dinner? And yet, still within your syns! Get it made.

Need more ideas? Well gosh, click a button below and get on with it.

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Enjoy!

J

taster night fruit skewers

Taster night – yes, we hate them too. We do have loads of taster night ideas though right here, but here’s a new one – taster night fruit skewers! Doesn’t really need a recipe but even so, I’ve done one at the bottom. But first…

…here’s a minty-fresh Switzerland entry! Part five if you don’t mind.

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part one | part two | part three | part four

Now, the last time you nestled into my busom and let me tell you a Swiss story we were just disembarking from the train in Bern. I was giddy with superlatives and the clean mountain air. We enjoyed an evening out and explored the town and I’ll touch on that later but first, despite having just arrived, we were already planning to leave. GASP. If that doesn’t get you sticking to your chair, what will?

So, yes, the night before, somewhat shitfaced on gin and schnapps, we had rashly decided to hire a car and go see some nearby Swiss features. A company called Sixt took our money and booking only to then call us at 11pm to say that actually they couldn’t hire us a car after all. My reply was probably something like wellfuguthendon’twanyercaranywaaay, as I remind you I was drunk, and we managed to sort something out with Enterprise. Hence, a few hours later, after a quick tram ride into the ghettos (as if Swiss cities have bloody ghettos – even the graffiti says ‘FUCK THE COPS, PLEASE’) we were outside the Enterprise offices waiting for the effortlessly efficient Celine to finish putting her hair in plaits and open the door. We made the class awkward small-talk and were shown to our car – a very boring Peugeot 208. I almost asked if they had anything more exciting but realised that would encompass every single mode of transport ever invented. It’s not that it was a bad car, no, it was just…so…plain. It was the motoring equivalent of having a disinterested vicar read you the warranty conditions of your new kettle.

We set off, very gingerly. Actually, that’s a fib, it took us about ten minutes to figure out how to disengage the handbrake. Every button I pressed seem to do something I didn’t want (and I’d later discover I’d accidentally set the seat-warmers to maximum – I only realised when I pulled over absolutely sure I’d shit myself). Paul fiddled with the Sat-Nav. You may recollect from previous entries that I have an inherent distrust of Sat-Navs whereas Paul clings to every word like a drowning man would clutch a lifebelt. The Sat-Nav is never wrong. It could instruct him to plunge a knife into my chest then take the third exit and he’d have the cutlery drawer open before you could say Skynet.

I’d checked online previously and the motorway that we needed was a mere half mile and two junctions away – I thought that once I was on that we’d be grand – driving on a motorway is an easy way to get used to a car, unless you’re Henri Paul. Paul plugged the address for the cheese factory in and we were away, guided by the disembodied voice of Teresa May. I’m not even exaggerating – it was as though the liver-lipped old trout was in the car with us, barking orders and shrieking instructions. It was terrifying: take the second Brexit, indeed.

Anyway, I immediately noticed something was wrong when we ended up following a tram down the tram lines. That’s generally a bad sign. Nevertheless, buoyed by Paul’s strict instruction that the Sat-Nav is always right and ‘you always panic driving in cities‘, we ploughed on.

For an arresting moment we found ourselves trundling through a Christmas market in the car – I could have reached out and grabbed myself a hot chocolate as we drove past to calm my nerves – before the Sat-Nav sent us down a tiny cobbled street. Clearly, something was amiss, but Paul was having none of it. We pootled on for another half an hour on possibly the most scenic city centre tour you’ve ever seen outside of one of those lurid double-decker scenic busses before I finally pulled us over in someone’s garden and told Paul to check the settings on the Sat-Nav. Yep: he had it set to ‘avoid major roads’, which, as you can imagine, adds an extra layer of fun and frolics onto driving an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar city, on the wrong side of the road, on the wrong side of the car, in ice and heavy fog. Oh how I laughed as I spun the car wheels on the icy grass before we made our way back to the motorway. You could see the car-rental place from the sliproad of the motorway as we joined.

Ah well. You live and learn. Once we were on the open road we were straight up to 75mph (their speed limit) despite the freezing fog. Why? Because everything just works perfectly. There wasn’t a flake of ice on the road, there wasn’t a ten mile tailback of beeping cars and lorries, no, everyone just sped along in uniform civility. It was lovely. It puts us to shame, it truly does. I know we’re not an alpine country and thus people aren’t used to driving in wintry conditions but for goodness sake, they shut the A1 in both directions if I leave my freezer door open too long. Pah.

One thing we learnt about the Swiss as we drove along their motorways: they fucking love getting their cocks out in the motorway toilets, and I don’t mean for a piss. I don’t like to be crass but for goodness sake, let me have a piss in peace without helicoptering your penis at me or wanking away like you’re beating out a carpet fire. I half-expected to be arrested for suspicious behaviour because I wasn’t cottaging. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude, and if the smell of twenty years of splashed urine and 10,000 lorry driver farts gets the blood pumping for you then all the very best, but please, try and be a bit more discreet.

Anyway, we left after five hours – just enough time for the ammonia on the floor to burn through my jeans at the knees.

As we drove towards Gruyère the fog seemed to melt away and Switzerland opened up for us – it was magical. Everything was frozen but, especially when bathed in the brilliant light of the winter sun, it shone. I wanted to walk in every forest, ratch down every street – and that’s really saying something when you consider what a fat fucker I am. You’d barely get a chance to admire the views of an ice-covered river when a hill would rear up and you’d get a load of chocolate-box cottages all glistening in the cold. I felt like I was in a chewing gum advert. Paul developed RSI from having to snap his neck this way and that as I exclaimed ‘oooh look at that‘ and ‘cor have you seen that mountain?‘ – luckily, we weren’t short of ice to put on it. To give you an idea of the beauty:

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We made it to our first destination, La Maison du Gruyère, in good time indeed. Now, as you might have guessed from the name, this was a factory manufacturing ball bearings. Well obviously not – it was a cheese factory. I love cheese, and I love GruyèreI will cheerfully admit to having a semi as I climbed out of the car. I know visiting a Swiss cheese factory whilst in Switzerland is as obvious as visiting the Eiffel Tower whilst in Paris or being happy-slapped for your mobile in Hull, but I don’t care. We paid the very modest entry fee and were given quite the phallic-looking handset that would translate the entire thing for us so it sounded like Paul’s sister patronising us the whole way around. It was quite distressing. However, what made up for that was the fact you’re given a packet of cheese as you enter. My kind of museum!

The displays were informative – the right mix of cutesy-poo (meet Cherry The Cow!) and blistering factory facts to keep you going. Don’t get me wrong, don’t plan a holiday around it as we were done in half an hour, but as cheese factories go, it was great. I say this from the perspective of someone who has a cheese factory you can tour a mere ten miles from my house. I know, truly my life is decadent. There’s a comedy picture of me biting into a cheese wheel that’s only just wider than Paul’s waist but as my chins are cascading down my coat like a melted church candle, I shan’t be posting it. We stopped into the well-appointed gift shop in the hope of buying me a hat but were thwarted yet again by my giant elephantine head. I don’t understand it, you know – I look in the mirror and see a normal sized head but I can’t get a single hat to fit me without being skintight and giving me a permanently startled look. I’d kill to be able to wear a tricorn hat with panache, like Inspector Javert. More like Fatbear, am I right? Sigh.

We did toy with having a tour around Gruyère but we had a lot to do and we had to return the car at 6pm, so culture was pushed to one side.

Next stop on our Car Trip of Cardiovascular Strain was a trip to a chocolate factory, which frankly, is like following up a large scratchcard win with a fantastic blowjob. I mean, it doesn’t get better than the words ‘unlimited samples of Swiss chocolate’, does it? At this point I had to push my car seat back a good few inches, and it wasn’t just my belly that was swelling. Cor! Turns out that the Maison Cailler was about a twenty minute drive down the road so off we went. Roadworks diverted us into an aerodrome which made for a startling moment or two as tiny planes beetled about around us but we were soon back on our way and, after navigating a proper hairpin bend on a very steep hill (what fun!) we were parked up and joined the queue for entry.

Well, whilst I hate to repeat myself, this was smashing too. Entry costs were minimal but the whole experience was well thought-out, interesting and interactive. We joined a group of six very obviously gay men (no need to peacock though, there were lots of knowing looks and laughter) (and actually, that would explain our eight blank faces when we got to the Frigor bit) (Frigor? Why I barely know her!) and were shown to the entrance. What followed was a good thirty minute walk around showing the history of chocolate, how it is made, the health benefits…I tried to look as interested as possible but what we all wanted to know was when were the free samples coming and would I be told off for bringing a suitcase? We rounded a corner and there it was – all sorts of different chocolates just out for the tasting.

Naturally, being British, we showed remarkable restraint, nibbling and coyly picking up just-one-more in case they decided we were obscene and shut the door. Hilariously though, there was this big gym-bunny of a man there with his girlfriend. Now, he was not that nice, toned gym-boy that you see around but rather he looked like a bin-liner stuffed with rugby balls. His Littlewoods crop-top positively strained over Wotsit coloured muscles and I’m sorry but he had the haunted look of someone who knows that he’ll be injecting steroids into his cock later that day. ANYWAY. When he saw eight burly men come mincing barrelling around the corner he immediately started puffing out his chest and strutting around like Barry Big Bollocks. You know what I mean?? That thing blokes do when they try and make themselves look hard and important? Pffft. Top tip mate: no-one was impressed, you were trying to intimidate eight gay blokes who each had a better spread of facial hair than you and it’s impossible to look macho when you’re standing in a chocolate factory shovelling dainty wee raspberry truffles into your gob with your giant shovel hands, you absolute fucking melt.

His girlfriend had the good grace to look embarrassed.

We all tittered and laughed at the little machine that pooed out the chocolates (no other word for it) and then Paul and I added our own bit of humour onto their massive interactive computer board which asked the question ‘When should you enjoy chocolate?’

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That’ll be us off the magazine list, again. Ah well. At least our effort was better than Baba Babayev’s on the right there though – what a kiss-arse. Bet that wasn’t just cocoa on her lips.

Next stop on our whistlestop tour of Things That Sounded Good When Pissed was the town of Montreux, a mere forty minutes or so away. Now we absolutely didn’t have time to tour the town and do it justice so we decided to visit the absolutely stunning Château de Chillon, down on the shoreline of Lake Geneva instead.

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The castle was the inspiration for the castle in The Little Mermaid, which is a handy link as Paul models himself on The Little Mermaid’s villain, Ursula. We were so lucky – perhaps because it was Christmas or because it was overcast I don’t know, but we almost had the place to ourselves.

This was very fortuitous indeed. Why? Because the castle – whilst breathtakingly pretty and wonderfully kept – is a series of staircases, ladders and steep climbs to get right to the very top. With both of us busy turning eight kilos of chocolate and cheese into poo and heart disease, this was perhaps not a good idea. The fact we were by ourselves was most welcome as it meant we weren’t pressured into climbing at anyone else’s pace and we were able to stop and catch our breath, shock our hearts and discreetly vomit into nearby suits of armour. Any passing staff must have thought we found the info-boards particularly absorbing (and, to be fair, they were) but actually, it was just us bent double trying to resaturate our blood with oxygen.

taster night fruit skewers

You know what made the place great, though? It took us a while to twig and then we realised – there wasn’t masses of taped-off areas and warning signs to mind your head and stop smoking and don’t run and don’t use flash photography. We weren’t being told off at every opportunity and it was most refreshing, even if I did curse loudly when the top of my head scrapped along the ceiling. Oh and I did fall down a pretty much vertical flight of stairs when I started can-can-ing my legs as I came down, which in turn made Paul exclaim that I ‘looked like the Phantom of the Opera, only more a fat c*nt’ (we had the place to ourselves, I remind you), which then made me laugh and lose my footing. I landed on my giant gelatinous arse and was fine, don’t worry. Silly Swiss: I might recommend a warning sign for ‘acts of theatricality’. We made sure to take plenty of photos to add onto our iCloud to never be seen again and then made our way out.

There was a photo opportunity as we left with a little pier that strutted right out into the lake and we made for it only to be rudely pushed out of the way by what I think were the same horde of tourists that had prevented us getting a decent picture at the Broken Chair a few entries back.  First they would each take a picture of one of them standing on the pier, then they’d swap, then they’d change the lens, then they’d shriek hysterically and change the lens again. We waited patiently for a good fifteen minutes before (conscious of the fact I’d parked the hire car in a place I wasn’t entirely unconvinced wasn’t a coach park) I invaded their photographs and walked right along that pier. It made for a good set of photos – me posing merrily with my little Swiss flag, eighteen disgruntled and sullen faces just moving out of shot. Pfft. I’d post the picture but the rage-blood seeping from my eyes somewhat ruins it.

We bought some chocolate from the gift-shop and made our way back to the car. At this point I was very tired so Paul was under strict instruction to keep talking to me and not to let me fall asleep. Naturally, he was asleep before I turned the indicators off to get out of the car park. It was a long drive home – I had to keep stopping at the rest areas to have a man-made protein shake rest. We were less than half a mile away from the car drop-off area, all ready to head back to the hotel, when the stupid Sat-Nav suddenly thought we were in entirely the wrong place and set us down a slip road onto a different motorway, adding an extra 30 miles onto our trip. I hate them. I really bloody hate them. My loud swearing woke Paul up whose first words were ‘you should have woke me up’ which, as you can imagine, really made me chuckle. I could have undid his seatbelt, opened his car door and sent him tumbling out onto the motorway at 75mph and he’d still be fast asleep, doing tiny little cheesy farts all the night long. BAH.

By the time we did make it back to our room it was all we could do to remove the tiny Toblerone they placed on our pillows before falling fast asleep. All that mountain air, see. I promise to talk to you about Bern on the next entry, it really was a terrific place, but look, we’re almost at 3,000 words and I’m just sure that means most of you will have buggered off by now. If so, shame on you, least not because you’ve missed out on the recipe for these taster night fruit skewers!

taster night fruit skewers

to make taster night fruit skewers, you’ll need – well, duh:

  • a couple of tangerines
  • a box of raspberries
  • a few kiwi fruits
  • a fresh pineapple
  • black grapes, black as your soul
  • cocktail sticks – ours aren’t anything fancy, we bought them for the burgers we do, you get 100 on Amazon for about a fiver, or you could use any old shite you have sitting around the house, no need to fret!

to make taster night fruit skewers, you should:

  • now come on, really
  • no, really?
  • OK, well, assemble as above
  • I cored the pineapple, cut it into rings and then into chunks, but you can buy chunks in juice, remember to syn it though
  • I made the kiwi stars by cutting thick slices of kiwi and then, wait for it, using a star shaped pastry cutter – I know, someone call Alfred Nobel, because we’ve got a bloody genius here
  • that’s it

Two things to remember:

  • Captain Gunt suggests that you could serve this with a melted Freddo bar or something to dip in – but seriously, come on, just eat your Freddo; and
  • not a fan of the fruits above? Well, you’re homophobic and I’ll thank you not to read this blog. Oh THOSE fruits, right right – no, just swap them out for anything you like, I don’t mind, I just like the pretty colours!

Want more taster night ideas? Love picking other people’s cat hair out of your teeth whilst you choke down a sliver of cottage cheese quiche? Then click the buttons below and be inspired!

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Goodnight all!

J

actifry or one-pot lamb tagine

Here for the lamb tagine? Yes, that’s well and good, and perhaps you can’t wait, but if you have five minutes, why not take a moment to read part two of our trip to Switzerland?

I apologise for the length of the last entry – I’ll try and keep it a bit more sensible this time around. This actifry lamb tagine can very easily be made in a normal pot, by the way, just simmer for the same amount of time. Can’t go wrong. I’m typing this up when I actually should be knuckling down for some last-minute Christmas shopping as I have exactly nil Christmas presents bought. Oops. Ah well, lumps of coal and stern looks for all. I might send Black Santa from the previous post.

But anyway, enough grousing. Let us step back a week or so ago to a point where two fresh-faced, handsome men, stylishly dressed for the city and with hope in their hearts, stepped off the Geneva-bound easyJet flight from Newcastle. You’ll see us right behind them, sweating our tits off, pulling our balls free from the inside of our thunderthighs and exclaiming ‘IT’S RIGHT COLD’ as we stumble down the steps like a cow with advanced BSE.

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looking for part one? click here

Do you know, I think that’s the best banner yet.

The first thing we did in Geneva was have a stare-off with some Aldi version of Annie Lennox who was quite insistent that she should cut in front of us in the queue at security, for reasons I couldn’t ascertain from her scowling face and bleached grey hair. You could say she was a Thorn in my Side, but actually, I’d just call her a rude bitch. I don’t mind an elbow in my back-fat if it belongs to Paul but not someone who is jump the queue. Tsk. Paul and I made sure to stand beside each other, pressed firmly together, like Trump’s Wall but made from Tesco jeans and fat. My, she couldn’t half tut though. Imagine my concern.

Security waved us through – yet again, no stamp – why? I want stamps in my passport. I appreciate that means that I’ll probably need to travel somewhat further afield than what Newcastle Airport can offer me but still. Rumour tells me that I’ll get a stamp if I travel to Benidorm, but alas, the stamp will be on my nose by an orange chav with Naf-Naf shoes. Pfft. We made our way out of the airport and decided to have a sandwich and a coffee in one of the many pleasant eateries dotted about the concourse. Well, honestly – in what will doubtless be a running theme throughout these entries – it was so bloody expensive. We had been warned but we waved off the concerns and cautions with the haphazard air of the seasoned traveller. A sandwich and a small coffee? £13. I wanted to lean over the counter and ask if the sandwich came with someone to sit with me whilst I ate and regale me with Swiss fairy-tales but alas, my French doesn’t extend to lusty sass.

That’s another thing about Switzerland – you’re never quite sure whether you should be speaking in French, German, Italian or some bizarre hybrid of the lot. We both give speaking in the native language the old college try but it’s bad enough when you’re trying to summon the French for cheese and ham baguette from the distant memory vault of Year 9 French, it’s even worse when you have to try and build in a Germanic back-up plan. Shamefully, we both did rather more pointing and apologising in English this holiday then we’ve ever done before. We managed to receive disdain from so many races that I felt like Nigel Farage.

Having finished our sandwiches and drib of coffee, neither especially amazing, we made our way to get the train from the airport into the centre of town. I’d looked it up online and spotted that it was a mere 5 minute ride and, even with the Swiss propensity to take the normal price of goods and services and then square it, it was never going to cost that much. However, Paul had spotted somewhere on the Internet that tourists to Geneva were given a free ticket to travel in, saving us, oooh…£4 at best. He wouldn’t be shaken from the idea that we simply had to have this ticket and so it was that we spent a good thirty minutes scouring the airport for this mythical free ticket machine. I was thrilled, as you can imagine, given I was full of warm cheese and bitter coffee, and anyway, this is a man whose primary motive for buying a new car was because his old car was dirty and needed new tyres. He’s not exactly Martin Lewis, you know?

We eventually found the fabled free ticket machine, however, of course, it was located back in the arrivals bit and we’d already  gone through the customs channel, meaning we couldn’t nip back through. Conversation somewhat strained, we made our way back to the train station, I bought us two first class tickets and we were on a train in no time at all. My simmering rage was tempered when the train turned up – it was a double-decker train! I know that’ll be of no excitement to anyone with an active sex-life but to me, it was thrilling. There’s something captivating about climbing up stairs on a train to me – it gives me an opportunity to make grand staircase exits as I leave the train, for one.

As you’d expect, the train was comfortable, luxurious and clean, putting everything that barely trundles around our rail network to shame. There’s something pleasing about sitting in a train where you’re not greeted with a rolling wall of shit-vapour everytime those automatic toilet doors open, for one. We were perturbed by the scenes outside the train window though – I was expecting fastidiously clean streets and charming buildings but instead we were treated to a heavily graffitied jet-fuel depot and lots of suspicious looking men in stonewash denim. Happily, the train pulled smartly into a tunnel and all that was soon forgotten, deposited as we were into Genève-Cornavin station.

This was more like it. Our first true glimpse of Switzerland. First impressions? Very few fat people. I’m not sure why but it was noticeable – no-one clutching handrails on stairs and gasping, no-one shuffling with pained feet – everyone walking briskly and stylishly. I immediately felt bad and made to cover my man-boobs and sweat patches in my Scottish Widow coat. I don’t normally care, but who wants to be the cow pat a field of flowers?

We consulted our phones – thank the lord for google maps – and realised that it was an easy fifteen minute walk to our hotel, the Hotel N’vy, which you can gaze adoringly at by clicking here. Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window. As we trundled along we were both struck by how clean it all was – yes, perhaps some of the buildings needed a gentle Karchering, but there wasn’t a pick of litter to be seen, nor the other unfortunate city sights that trouble Britain, such as smashed up phoneboxes or the homeless. I assume that’s because Switzerland treat their homeless like humans rather than inconveniences and shysters like we do in the UK.

Seriously, the amount of comments I read on our local rag’s facebook page about Newcastle’s homeless appalls me. Stuff like ‘they spend all their money on drugs so I don’t give them anything’ or ‘they’re all scammers’. You know, if you don’t want to donate or help, that’s fine, we’ve all got our reasons, but please don’t wear your arseholery like a badge. No-one is impressed. Frankly, if someone wants to put the quid or two that I’ll drop in their pot on some smack to get them through a winter’s night, so be it, good for them. I’d do the same thing if I was on the streets – not as if I’d get much for selling my body, for sure, though perhaps someone could cut me open and sleep in my belly like Leonardo di Caprio does in The Revenant with that antelope. If I’m being conned, at least I took a gamble.

Anyway, sidetracked, sorry. We made it to our hotel without getting lost once which is a bloody miracle given neither of us can find our arses with our elbows. Honestly, our sex life is just a long series of pointed directions – up a bit, down a bit, left a bit, no no, come down a bit, to me, to you – our neighbours must think we’re moving a large sofa around a tiny room with assistance from the Chuckle Brothers. Someone once suggested that we use the ‘scratch and sniff’ approach to lovemaking in the dark: pfft, that would work, save for the fact Paul’s arse smells like a stable fire where the horses didn’t make it to safety.

The receptionist was an absolute delight – couldn’t speak a lick of English, unusually, but we managed to laugh our way through the reservation and she took my American Express with skilled panache. Funny how the language barrier never stands in the way of payment, eh?

We were lucky, too – despite us arriving at around 11ish in the morning, they’d already prepared the room (the usual: reinforce the toilet, plastic sheeting on the bed, make sure the telly can receive Tipping Point and The Chase) and we were ushered upstairs with our luggage by some friendly chap in a lovely hat. He didn’t hold his hand out for a tip which was fortuitous as I only had notes of 100 Swiss Francs (about £80) and in Switzerland that would have only just been enough to get him to hold the door open. He left us to our room where, you guessed it, Paul’s holiday traditions took place – a look in the minibar, the stealing of anything small and portable into our freshly emptied suitcase, and yes, an eye-watering poo. I’d barely got the cap of my complimentary bottle of sparkling water before I heard rapturous groans and heavy splashing from the lavatory, followed by “JUST MAKING ROOM FOR THE FONDUE MY LOVE”. Isn’t he a treat? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a hotel room with Paul for longer than fifteen minutes before it smells like a rendering plant and I can barely read the minibar list through my streaming eyes.

I’d like to tell you that we bustled straight out of the door to enjoy the city but actually, once Paul had finished his poo and had a shower, the early start caught up with us and we decided to spend the day ordering room service and sleeping. We like to spend a full day exploring the city but we needed to be fresh and ready for that, and frankly, we’ve both been working super hard lately. We needed the rest. At some point, in between the drunken sleeping (we raided the minibar, and by god we’d truly pay for that later) and ordering of burgers and chips and sandwiches, Jingle All The Way came on the TV. Aaaah, it doesn’t get any more Christmassy than that, does it?

Let’s pick up the rest of this in our next entry. I apologise that I don’t move on very quickly when I’m typing up holiday entries, but I just love writing about them! I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. To the recipe, then.

We’ve taken this from the MyTefal app, but modified it slightly and gave it a sexier name. We know it’s not a real lamb tagine. Deal with it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t normally need a lot of encouragement to get my hands on a dishy Moroccan, but here we go. I don’t know how they can get away with calling it a lamb tagine, either, given it’s a very ‘dry’ dish. This makes enough for four or so chunkers.

lamb tagine

to make actifry lamb tagine you will need:

  • 900g diced lamb
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 5 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded chopped into large chunks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Actifry’s are back under £90 on Amazon – I don’t expect they’ll stay that way so if you’re sitting on the fence, get one now by clicking here! It’s bloody Christmas, treat yourself.

to make actifry lamb tagine you should:

  • place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well, leave to marinade for 30 minutes
  • cook in the actifry for 27 minutes
  • that’s it

Doing this in a pot? You’ll need to do it a little differently – brown off the lamb first by cooking in a bit of oil. Add about 100ml of lamb stock to the pan and allow to gently bubble along with everything else until thickened and lovely. Serve with rice. Or hoy it all in a slow cooker. Hey, each to their own, am I right?

Looking for more ideas on what to do with lamb? Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

J

one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne

Lasagne in one pot? But of course. To be fair, this one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne is not strictly a lasagne, rather more bolognese and soft pasta, but hey, it’s still easy to make and it all comes out the same colour in the end, right? Naturally, before we get to the recipe, I’m going to say words at you until your eyes glaze over and you stop nodding politely. It’s part two of our fabulous whirlwind tour of Peterborough, so let me bust out the banner once more…

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You can find part one by clicking here, but honestly, don’t bother. Actually do bother, I’ll get 0.0001p for each page-load, and if I earn enough money, I can pay someone to raze Peterborough to the ground so it never haunts my life again. Where were we…

Ah yes. The charming Norman Cross Premier Inn. After a night spent sweating, tossing and peeling our back fat away from each other with loud slurps, we woke bright and breezy. We decided that we’d take care of our ablutions and then see about getting some breakfast. Can I let you in on a mortifying secret? We chose not to get the Premier Inn breakfast that we normally do because it wasn’t an unlimited buffet. How greedy, I know. Technically it was unlimited in the sense that I could ask the waiter to bring me more bacon, more eggs, more sausages and a portable ECG monitor, but I’m always too shy.

We like our breakfast to spread far beyond what the eyes can see and frankly, if I’m not clutching my chest, hoisting my fat-arse out of my chair and walking to a tureen of beans with the barely-disguised disgusted whispers of the other occupants of the hotel, I’m not interested. We made do with a Twirl from the vending machines and that was that.

We stopped by reception to ask if we could change rooms. I explained that the room was too hot and that Paul’s genitals now looked like a trio of celebration balloons left tied to a fence for a week, and the receptionist promised that she would arrange a new room for us once we returned from our day out. The charmer from the day before was obviously off meeting with Big Men in New York. We decamped back to our sweatbox so Paul could slide the chocolate bolt across, giving me time to plan our day.

I logged onto tripadvisor to find something to do. When the third or fourth suggestion is a chain cinema, you know you’re in trouble. I searched High Wycombe and Lowestoft (sorry, I’m so proud of that laboured joke that it’s staying in) and there was absolutely bot-all to do that didn’t require an outrageous drive and the threat of growing old prematurely by osmosis due to close proximity of coach tours.

Eventually Paul’s voice piped up from the thunderbox to tell me Bletchley Park (home of the codebreakers during WW2) was about an hour away. Shamefully, my reaction was meh, but faced with the prospect of X-Factor repeats and turning into a prune in the hotel room, we agreed that Milton Keynes our best chance of happiness – something which I’m fairly sure has never, ever been said about Milton Keynes before. Before we yawned our way down the A1 we needed fuel, and thanks to the good folk at the Mace garage in Yaxley, even that turned into a right song and dance.

See, Paul got out, put the nozzle in and clicked the handle. The pump dispensed about 4p worth of fuel then shut off. The lady behind the counter looked grimly at him through the window and ignored his plight – he kept clicking, the fuel would dribble out enough fuel to get us approximately 4ft off the forecourt and then shut off. I’m sitting in the car effing and jeffing because I’d spotted an Esso literally over the road and Paul’s clicking away like he’s a farmer counting his sheep.

Eventually, the Queen of the Pumps spots something is awry and comes out. What followed was an excruciating exchange where she just didn’t accept it was her fuel pump that was broken. No, Paul hadn’t ‘put it in right’ (I find that easy to believe, given the years and years of ‘up a bit, down a bit, up a bit more, push forward – honestly, sometimes gay sex is like I’m guiding someone in Knightmare – SIDESTEP LEFT), then he ‘wasn’t clicking hard enough’. In a gesture that speaks volumes about his character, he decided against going all No Country For Old Men on her and smiled politely throughout. IT TOOK TEN MINUTES. I mean, God loves a trier, but we know how to use a bloody petrol pump for goodness sake, we’re not on the fucking Krypton Factor.

She went in and reset the pumps about a dozen times before asking whether we’d like to switch to another problem. Guessing that the second pump would probably require us to solve a cryptic crossword and a complex Sudoko we politely declined and went on our way over the road, where only a packet of Cadbury’s Snacks could calm our ire. I wouldn’t have minded so much but Paul actually went in and paid the £2.10 of fuel we eventually got. Bah.

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Driving in Milton Keynes is an adventure, isn’t it? Bill Bryson absolutely hated the place and whilst I thought it looked alright from the car, I had no desire to step out and trip the light fantastic myself. Things became tense when we realised the Sat-Nav, built into the car with no obvious way to turn her down, was having a complete shitfit over the amount of roundabouts. If the British government ever need to break a terrorist they need only to strap them into a Ford Fiesta and let them endure 20 minutes of ‘AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE SECOND LEFT AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE THIRD EXIT AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE THIRD ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE JUNCTION TAKE TAKE TAKE ROUNDABOUT ROUNDABOUT ROUNDABOUT’. I felt like I was being driven by Johnny 5 in the throes of a nervous breakdown.

We arrived at Bletchley Park with only mild tinnitus and discovered a small computer museum at the arse-end of the car-park. Being giant geeks we were very excited, and, being giant geeks, we waddled breathlessly to the entrance just as the volunteer flipped the open sign over and opened the door. Hooray! We immediately got stuck behind a visitor who thought he was God’s Gift to comedy, every line to the cashier was a ‘joke’ and bit of patter. It was just awful. I had a thought that it must be what it is like to be stuck behind me in Tesco but I quickly tucked that thought away into the same mind-folder where the ‘I bet that ingrown toenail goes septic and you lose your foot’ and ‘is your heart supposed to go boom-badum-boom-badum-BOOM-whoo when you climb stairs’.

The computer museum was a treat. It was a pleasure to be somewhere which wasn’t full of screaming children getting their arses smacked and stupid interactive displays that don’t work. No, this museum was decidedly (and fittingly) old school – full of amazing old computers and genuine pieces of history like the Tunny machines and Colossus, which were both instrumental in helping decipher secret messages during World War Two. We revelled at the old computers from times way past and then were horrified to find that computers we remembered from our youth were classed as ‘retro’. I’ve never felt so old. A lot of the old machines were switched on and I couldn’t resist typing

HELLO SORRI HUNS MI APP IS DOWN HOW MANI SUNS IN ALDI YOGURTS PLEASE XOXOXO

into an old ICL DRS6000. I know, I’m a stinker. We did want to sit and play on the old BBC computers (I’ve never finished Granny’s Garden and god-damnit, I still remember where the magic tree is) but there was a group of three lads in the room spraying spittle through their braces and chuckling loudly about frame-rates. Is there a word for intimidation mixed with pity? I bet there’s a German word. Regardless, we moved on and after a quick fanny about with a few knobs in the classroom (oh that takes me back) we were done. We left a lovely positive Tripadvisor report and made our way down to the actual Bletchley Park estate.

Now, something to annoy you, due to ongoing issues with the managements of both attractions, you pay twice – once to visit the Computing Museum (block H of the estate) and once more to visit the rest of the estate. Hmm. Naturally, because the estate had a few interactive boards and a video tour, the price for entry is £34.50 for the two of us. Bah. However, this too was a lovely few hours – we wandered around at our own pace, taking in the interesting stories and displays, and credit where it’s due, the attraction does an excellent job of celebrating the amazing work that folks like Alan Turing did. I confess to a little bit of museum-fatigue: there’s only so many times you can walk into a hut, look at a map on a table and nod appreciatively. It also gave us both pause to think that only 64 years ago being gay was cause enough to lock someone up for gross indecency. How far we’ve come, eh.

Tell you what – let’s pick the rest of our tale up tomorrow – we’re already at 1,500 words and I know how you all get when you’re hungry. Tonight’s one-pot recipe then is one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne and whilst it doesn’t look like much in the photo, it’s a very tasty wee dish to make during the week and take to lunch the next day. On we go…

to make one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne, you’ll need:

to make one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne, you should:

  • add a little oil to a large casserole pot and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the mince and cook until browned
  • add the garlic and onions, stir and cook for another three minutes
  • add the passata, chopped tomatoes, stock, spinach, herbs and pasta and mix well
  • bring to the boil the reduce to a simmer and cover with the lid
  • cook for about 15 minutes until the pasta is al dente
  • add the mozzarella to the pan (tear into chunks if you’re using a ball) and stir through the mixture until melted
  • serve

Nice, right?

If you’re looking for more recipes with beef, pasta or seafood (why not), click the buttons below!

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Goodnight all.

J

one pot sausages and boston beans

Do you ever cook something, expect it to be awful and then are blown away by how good it tastes? That’s this recipe for sausages and boston beans, and better yet, it genuinely is one the easiest dishes we’ve ever done on here. Of course, because this is a twochubbycubs recipe and I love the sound of the fat on my fingers slapping against the slightly tacky keys on my keyboard, you’re going to get a bit of nonsense first.

Tonight’s post the first of a two-parter about our long weekend to Peterborough. I love writing ‘travel’ entries because they’re usually full of fun places, wonderful food and trills of laughter. I’d like to caveat this entry by stressing: we went to Peterborough. Look, I even knocked together a wee graphic.

peterborough

Normally at this point I’d apologise for being cruel in anticipation of the angry emails and comments I’ll get about slagging off a town, but I’m not actually convinced Peterborough has electricity, nevermind the internet, so I shan’t bother.

It’s all Paul’s fault. His family are all from down South whereas my family are from The North. Thus, he sees a lot of my family and only rarely does he venture down South to see his. He hasn’t fallen out with them, you understand, but we’re talking about a man for whom turning over in the bath to wash himself is an effort – the thought of driving however many miles and spending a weekend nodding at nonsense is beyond him. It’s certainly beyond me and that’s why whenever Paul has previously slopped family-bound down the A1, I’ve stayed at home eating delicious food and idly masturbating. It’s what every single guy does when his partner leaves and if you’re sitting there thinking that your partner doesn’t, then you’re in for a very rude awakening when you find all the crusty hand smears down the side of the mattress.

Oops, I got diverted. It began a couple of weeks ago when Paul turned to me, ashen-faced, and told me it was time we both went to see his family. I’d have been less frightened, alarmed and upset if he had wrote me a letter explaining he was Patient Zero of that antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea and I could expect a cock like a dripping nose within a week. However, because I’m a gentleman, I acquiesced – not least because Paul’s had ten years of trying to decipher my Dad’s Geordie accent and eight years of my nana force-feeding him butter sandwiches like he was a foie-gras duck, so me visiting his relatives seemed fair enough.

Just so you’re aware, I have visited Peterborough once before – we stayed at Orton Hall and visited the cathedral. It was mildly diverting in the same way a repeat episode of your third favourite TV show may hold your attention. We got drunk with a friend of his and ended up sat in a Vauxhall Nova in a McDonalds car park eating chips. I’ve literally never felt more street in my life. So we weren’t in a rush to repeat that and decided to book a nice hotel on the outskirts. Finding a decent hotel that wasn’t massively overpriced turned into such an insurmountable challenge that I threw a sulk once we reached Nottingham on the map and demanded that we just check into the first Premier Inn that came up on the map. We later found out that the Burghley Horse Trials were on and that explained – apparently – why all the hotels were booked up. Personally, I hope all the horses were found guilty.

We agreed that we’d drive down to Peterborough on the Saturday morning in our rented Ford Tedium and despite willing my liver to rupture, I was unable to get out of it. Actually, nevermind getting out of it, I could barely get into our rented car. Perhaps you’ve been in a Ford Fiesta – do you find the doors ridiculously small and low down? I had to fold myself like an accordion of chafed skin just to get inside. I haven’t quite reached the stage where I can’t physically fit into a car (probably a few pounds away) but this was a nightmare. I actually think I cracked a rib jumping in after I’d filled the bugger up.

To make my joy complete, Paul decided that he would be the one to drive most of the journey, leaving me to sit in the passenger sit twisting my face and eating crisps. I did spot that, being a fancy new model, I could text the car and it would read out a message for Paul. You may have seen the advert on TV where some spurned husband has the car read out a heartwarming apology and they laugh gaily at one another and ruefully shake their heads? Yeah, well, this was my attempt – warning, there’s a naughty word.

I blurred out my name because well, privacy.

The drive down was spectacularly uneventful – the usual parade of stopping to have a piss in amongst the poo-cloud of eight hundred harried dads and children, paying way over the odds for a cup of tea and moaning about it for ten minutes in the car, spending too much money on the fruit machines in the vain hope I’d win the jackpot and I could whisk Paul away somewhere exotic and full of promise, like Norwich. Nope. We arrived at his mother’s house at 11am.

I had a cup of tea. It was nice.

Twenty minutes later we agreed to take his brother out for lunch. I love Paul’s brother – he’s a proper gentle giant and really knows his stuff. He has severe autism which leads to moments of slight awkwardness when he blurts out to a waitress that she’s gorgeous and can share his milkshake. Or, memorably, when he whistled at a poor woman in Seahouses literally three inches from her face as he walked past. He just says what we’re all thinking. Anyway, a quick look at decent places to eat nearby turned up absolutely nothing and anyway, he wanted to go to a Bella Italia, so off we went to an industrial estate to have a meal that was about as Italian as I am a Calvin Klein model with a cock like a roll of wallpaper.

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I’m not going to review the place in depth because well, it was a Bella Italia for goodness sake, but understand that it was a dismal meal in dismal surroundings for £90. Until that day I would never have thought a pizza could actually look bored but there we have it. We asked for a quiet table away from any noise and the prissy little manager who seated us looked like I’d personally walked into the kitchen and shat in the carbonara. When I first typed that I typoed walked as wanked – that also works, so pick one. He sat us next to the bar with a fetching giant cylinder of blue-roll to sit with. Perhaps he thought we could snack on that in the vain hunt for flavour.

Our starter was described on the menu as a ‘real taste of Italy’. Who knew that Italy tasted like a third of those continental sliced meat platters you get in ASDA sweated behind the radiator for an hour or so? It did come with shaved fennel and orange segments but there’s only so much excitement you can wring from such a lacklustre repast. Between the three of us we had it finished before the bubbles on my diet coke had come to the surface. Naturally, it cost £15.

We had a pizza each (at £15 a pop) which tasted like a carpet tile smeared with passata and shunned by society. At one point I nearly gave up and smeared the blue roll with tomato sauce to get my money’s worth. The sides consisted of six onion rings for £4. 66p an onion ring. I did want to enquire whether or not Gino d’Campo was slicing them personally with a diamond but Paul shook his head at me and said no. Oh and the drinks! The diet coke came in a glass that Thumbelina herself would have considered meagre and, as usual, was more ice than drink. They were £2.60 a time, non-refillable. From my vantage point I was afforded the sight of the barman preparing a ‘fresh apple juice’ by opening a carton of Tesco Value apple juice and pouring it into a tiny milk bottle. That cost £2.50, by the way.

Desserts were a little better. Paul’s brother wanted ice-cream but also wanted to pick the flavours – his treat, so why not. The waitress had the good grace not to vomit into her mouth when he ordered a mixture of rum and raisin, chocolate and bubblegum ice-cream all topped with limoncello sauce and crushed almond biscuits. Paul and I ordered a Mean Joe between us which is apparently:

“Nutty fudge brownies, vanilla and chocolate gelato, chocolate sauce, fresh cream, popping candy, dark chocolate tagliatelle and a wafer curl. He’s got it sorted!”

What we got was four scoops of chocolate ice-cream, a brownie that could have been used to chock the tyres of a runaway bus and a shitty look. I’ve had more delightful desserts free from the Chinese takeaway. Paul’s brother gamely ate all of his ice-cream and we settled the bill. You know what stung the most? Our waitress was lovely and I couldn’t not tip her, so the meal actually ended up costing £100 in total. Imagine my delight. We bundled Paul’s brother back into the car and made our way back to his mother’s house to drop him off before the sugar kicked in.

I stroked a dog. It was nice. Paul had threatened in the car to make me laugh by pulling faces at me whilst his mother made conversation with me but that never happened.

We made our way to the Premier Inn, at least comforted by the fact we’d get a good night’s sleep, guaranteed. Things got off to a shaky start when Paul realised that the guy checking us in was his mortal enemy from school who had told everyone he was better than everyone else and was off to New York to pursue a music career. Seemingly the bus to the airport terminates at Junction 16 of the A1. Who knew? I had noticed that our welcome was a tad more frosty than normal but it was only when Paul explained in the corridor – and I had ascertained that he hadn’t actually sucked him off at some point (which, to be fair to me, seemingly applies to anything with testosterone within a 60 mile blast radius of Peterborough) that it all became clear.

The Premier Inn itself wasn’t bad, but meh. We were put into a weird extension bit which required trundling down an endless corridor of foist and extra-marital-sex-stink and our room eschewed curtains, instead sealing out the light with a huge set of sliding wooden doors. This mean the room was hot and tiny, the two worst things for two fat blokes. We freshened up (i.e. Paul immediately had a introductory thundering crap in the toilet like he does in EVERY SINGLE HOTEL ROOM WE EVER, EVER BOOK) and set out for his dad’s place, a little bit further down the A1.

Well, this was actually lovely. His dad and his partner are lovely, funny folk with witty conversation and big warm hearts. I’m not even being sarcastic (I know!) – we stayed for two hours and it felt like minutes. I’m actually quite a shy person and find making conversation tricky with people I don’t know but it was wonderfully easy and I was sad to leave. We did manage to subscribe them to the blog so, if you’re reading this Mrs A, take comfort in the fact that you both were a bright spot in an otherwise relentlessly grim weekend!

After leaving we did a cursory glance on Tripadvisor for a delicious place to eat, realised we’d have more marginally more success finding someone with a complete set of teeth and instead decamped to Tesco, where our Saturday night was made complete with a few packets of Cup-a-Soups and some crisps. We both fell asleep in front of the X-Factor, wishing for death.

Let’s leave this entry there, shall we? Bake Off starts soon and I want to watch Mary Berry gum and gurn her way through bread week. Tonight’s one-pot dinner genuinely couldn’t be easier. It’s probably a bit of cheek calling it boston beans but hey, if I put sausage and beans on the recipe, you might get misled. This makes enough for two.

sausages and boston beans

to make one pot sausages and boston beans, you’ll need:

  • two tins of kidney beans in chilli sauce
  • two large white onions
  • one packet of sausages (your syns will vary depending on what you use – we use our Musclefood sausages from our giant mixed summer pack because they actually taste of meat and which come in at half a syn each – click here for that – enjoy)
  • one beef oxo cube
  • one garlic clove
  • splash of worcestershire sauce
  • two large jacket potatoes
  • pepper

to make one pot sausages and boston beans, you should:

  • stick your jacket potato in the oven
  • cook your sausages off until nice and brown and then take them out
  • slice your onions nice and thin and add them into the pan
  • add the minced garlic and cook off for a few moments
  • open the tins of kidney beans and put all the contents, including the gloopy water, into the pan
  • fill one of the tins halfway full with water and add that along with the worcestershire sauce, oxo cube and plenty of pepper
  • add the sausages and allow everything to simmer gently until the sauce is thick
  • serve with the potatoes – delicious!

We get asked a lot for recommendations for a decent one-pot pan. I can’t recommend Le Creuset enough. They’re expensive, oh yes, but we use ours daily. Invest in one right here and never look back. Cheaper alternatives are absolutely fine mind!

If you want more sausage recipes, plus some delicious beef, chicken, pork or fakeaway recipes, click on the buttons below!

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Hope you enjoy!

J

chicken and cabbage stir fry

Chicken and cabbage stir fry? Just scroll on down. Or have a read of my nonsense…

Now, the last blog entry was bloody miserable, wasn’t it? It all went a bit hello darkness, my old friend, did it not? Well come on, settle back in your chair and let me tell you some good things about Cornwall. It wasn’t all bad, I promise. Look, we had a nice cottage. In fact, I even made a wee video of how it looks. Forgive the crap film style, but see this was originally just intended as a Whatsapp to a mate. Don’t be mean.

It was charming – a small, hidden away little building nestled on a back lane in a small, charming village. It was decorated in that style that normally makes my eyes roll back into my brain but when I’m on holiday, I can overlook and admire. Lots of Orla Kiely, whose name still looks and sounds to me like a Countdown Conundrum, including a few feature walls clad in that distinctive colourful wallpaper which has the unique double effect of making me ooh and wince at the same time. A whoo, perhaps, only not so exuberant. The kitchen was well-appointed, which makes a bloody change, with lots of secret little gadgets that we enjoyed like a hidden plug socket that rose from the unit like a robot’s knob and an extractor fan in the ceiling that opened up like a robot’s arsehole. It really did! Don’t get me wrong, I mean I’ve seen a bloody extractor fan before, but not a sphincter-edition that opens and shuts on command. Terribly exciting. The house was absolutely littered with the kind of living magazines you’ll often find in private hospitals – look at this table made from walnut and disdain, yours for only £16,000. I would love to be in a financial position where I could open one of those magazines and not pass out from sucking too much air in over my teeth. Actually, that’s a fib, I could a billionaire and I’d still shop at IKEA, because all my shopping experiences should end in the consumption of a hot-dog.

Everything you needed was there, including a decent TV, a wine cooler, smart outdoor furnishings, fresh flowers, a little hamper welcoming us as guests, dressing gowns…ah yes, the dressing gowns. Obviously meant for people who eat wheatgrass for breakfast and think nothing of a twenty mile run before work, these barely managed to get around us. It was like trying to hide a sofa behind a tea-towel.We persevered though, and naturally this lead to embarrassment. See, we had received a text from either the owners or the people looking after the cottage to say they’d pop around in the morning. We forgot, of course, and set about on the first morning making a nice breakfast and a mess when someone knocked on the door. Paul, barely clad in his gown, answered the door, taking a moment to ensure the dressing gown met in the middle and covered him up. 

It did – but, unbeknown to him, bless, he was so busy trying to cover his belly up and make small talk about fishing towns with the person at the door that he completely neglected to cover up his nether regions, meaning Little Paul was experiencing some Cornish air of his own. I was just out of sight frantically trying to mime ‘COVER UP’ to him but whenever he looked at me he assumed I mean cover up his belly, and he tightened his gown further at the top which meant the bottom opened up more. Paul, of course, has previous when it comes to flashing his willy – sometimes with my involvement as in Ireland, and sometimes completely on his own steam as in Corsica with the holiday rep. I’m beginning to feel he may have a problem – I reckon we shouldn’t go back to New York, for instance, because he’ll probably end up tripping over one of the live cameras and having a blisteringly highly-detailed, 80ft representation of his spam dagger projected across Times Square. Whoever was at the door had the good grace not to mention his accidental nudity and to their credit, we didn’t hear them start retching until they had climbed back into their own car. Anyway, the police only kept him in for a few hours and then let him go. Kidding. Though they could have done me for handling swollen goods afterwards, kaboom-tish.

Speaking of nudity, the cottage also came with a very odd quirk – an outside bath in the yard. The yard itself wasn’t overlooked and there was a large, wooden fence bordering you from the place next door, so there was no chance of anyone glancing over at me getting undressed and calling the police to report a runaway cow frolicking in the garden. I imagine that (and indeed, the write-up hints at it) when they designed the place they imagined lithe, hunky young couples sliding into the bath together under the stars and laughing tinkly at times past. No chance for Paul and I. If we had somehow managed to both get into the bath there wouldn’t have been any room for so much as a cup of hot water and hell, no amount of Radox Muscle Relaxant would have got us out of there. Imagine two pickled eggs squashed together at the bottom of a jar and you have a faint idea. Paul’s a complete jessie anyway when it comes to being cold so there was no chance of him joining me, though he did come to my aid when my tasteful piles of Love It, Take A Break, Hiya and Fuck Me No Way spilled out of reach across the decking. I don’t know what it is about holidays that make me reach for these magazines, full as they are with medical woes, true crime and children’s names that look like someone has had a half-hearted stab at spelling a normal name and added a hyphen and a ‘Mae’ onto it. I can’t get enough. We took two books each to read – mine being a story about a man who travelled around Britain on a bus (I know how to live) and Paul brought along The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Again. That book has travelled the world with us to the point where I’m beginning to think I need to put Frank Owen on my bloody passport. I wouldn’t care but it’s quite a weighty book and takes up a lot of space in our suitcase, especially as it remains exactly there until it’s time for the flight home again. 

There is something a smidge unnerving about bathing outside, not least because whenever a light aircraft passed overhead it must have looked like the Hindenburg crash site. Worse was climbing out because, paranoia or no, there was a crunch of gravel on the other side of the fence. I can’t imagine anyone was enjoying the sight of my hairy arse clad in Radox bubbles but hey, whatever floats your boat. Admittedly the gravel crunching was more likely to be subsistence or the ground shaking from me pouring out onto the decking, but I digress. There was also a log-burner which I can say, rather proudly, that I managed to light on the first go. Paul was giving it the whole ‘put some more fuel on it’ and ‘throw more logs on it’ like his knowledge of fire extends to anything other than clicking on his mother’s gas fire. Pfft. I grew up with coal, damn it – if it has, at some point, stood upon this Earth, I can make it burn. 

It did have an indoor bathroom, of course, we weren’t having to shit in the yard, and this included a fancy double shower with a rainfall shower and one of those tiny little showers which people say is for washing your hair but I know that secretly it’s for washing your minnie-Moo. Listen ladies, I know what goes on. The dials for the shower had no clue on them as to what made it go hot and what made it go cold, nor what shower they operated, so the half-awake morning shower became more like a scene from Saw as you dodged scalding jets on the back of your leg and an icy cascade from above. I half-expected a little doll on a tricycle to wheel around the corner, although if he was bringing me a fresh bar of coal-tar soap I’d be happy.

If we had only one complaint, it would be the bed. See, we’re spoilt up here because we have an absolutely giant bed that we can tumble around in and lose each other in the heat of night, but this bed was your bog-standard, plain Jane affair. Comfortable yes, but Paul’s both a snorer and a feeler (in that, if I’m not lying next to him, he’ll be reaching out with whatever he can extend until he finds me) and, without space to escape, it made for a long, noisy, sleepless few nights. The pillows weren’t the rock-hard type that we like (honestly, I reckon Paul would be more content if I had someone come and concrete a step onto the bed instead of pillows) and so we both managed to crick our necks. Me especially so, given I’m already carrying a weird neck injury at the moment. The upshot of this was that I couldn’t turn my head right and Paul couldn’t turn his head left, which made driving in Cornwall, with its labyrinthine roads and many, many junctions, a very fractious event. Many moments of calm and tranquility in the Cornish countryside were ruined by the over-revving of my engine, me shouting at Paul to check my way rather than his way and him shouting at me saying he couldn’t and then us both shouting at each other for confirmation and then finally shouting at some poor fart in the car in front for not pulling away sharp enough and thus forcing us to repeat the whole dance again. BAH.

That is the only complaint though. We had a remarkable stay and it’s a place that, despite my crass and crude review, I can’t recommend strongly enough. It was tastefully decorated, ideally situated, had everything you could need and, for once, it was made for couples rather than smelly children. We booked with www.uniquehomestays.com and the cottage was called Two Bare Feet. We’d go back in a heartbeat. Well, no, maybe if they moved it onto the Northumberland coast…

…right, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This recipe serves 4.

chicken and cabbage stir fry

to make chicken and cabbage stir fry you will need:

  • 300g dried noodles
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks (you don’t need to use four breasts here, despite this being for four people – two big Musclefood chicken breasts will do. I know I bang on about them a lot but two of these breasts is more than enough meat, especially compared to the tiny ones you get from the supermarket – just have a look at our deal and you’ll never look back!)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp root ginger, grated
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cabbage, chopped
  • 300g frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds (optional – roughly 2 syns)

Don’t forget, use your mincer for the ginger and then just put your ginger knob right in the freezer. It’ll be fine! A microplane mincer is one of the best things you can buy for the kitchen and it’s so cheap!

to make chicken and cabbage stir fry you should:

  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain and rinse with cold water, and then set aside
  • in a large bowl whisk together the chicken stock, soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger and cornflour – make sure there are no lumps
  • allow the stock mixture to cool slightly if it is hot (such as if you’ve made it using a stock cube and boiling water) and then add the chicken, and leave to marinade for about 20 minutes
  • using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the bowl and shake off the excess, but keep the marinade – you’ll need that later
  • heat a large pan or a wok over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • cook the chicken, stirring frequently so it doesn’t catch
  • remove the chicken from the pan and set aside
  • in the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the onions until softened
  • add the peppers and carrots to the pan and continue to stir fry
  • add the cabbage and keep stirring, for about 6 minutes until the cabbage starts to wilt
  • add the peas to the pan along with the rest of the marinade and the chicken, and stir until the sauce has thickened
  • add the noodles to the pan and stir until warmed through
  • serve the mixture and add the spring onions to garnish

It’s as easy as that, see?

J

honey and rosemary chicken

Here for the honey and rosemary chicken? Then scroll down. I need to get something off my chest (aside from the eight stone of suffocating fat) and that’s a recount of our trip to Land’s End. I did say I’m going to do our tale of Cornwall a little differently and well, this day out needs a post all of its own. So here we go…

twochubbycubs go to Cornwall: Land’s End

You can’t go to Cornwall and not visit Land’s End – it’s like going to London and not seeing the Queen, or going to Southend and not getting roughly fingered under the pier by someone more hair gel than teeth. Oh I know, Southend is lovely and charming and really, what’s a severe physical assault when you’ve got the glitz of the Rendezvous casino and the chance to spot a Subaru doing doughnuts in a McDonalds car park? I digress. I imagined Lands End to be some quaint little village right on the tip of southern England, full of darling tea-shops and people laughing gaily.

Well, it fucking wasn’t.

Excuse my swearing, but I’ve genuinely never been more disappointed with a place in my life. And I’ve been to Hartlepool. On a bus. What should have been a fairly tasteful and certainly interesting place to visit was nothing more than a tacky, ill-designed, grasping tourist trap, comprising of poorly thought out exhibitions and miserable staff. We had chortled our way down the A30 on a brisk, drizzly English day – all roads in Cornwall seem to go via the A30, I reckon I could drive it blindfolded now – and our hearts were lifted as the Sat Nav, inexplicably tuned to the voice of Colonel Sanders, told us that the exhibition centre was only half a mile away. I should have clocked there and then – an exhibition centre? Why? Let us look at the cliffs, the signpost and perhaps have a cup of tea and a moan about our knees. Exhibitions aren’t needed – the beauty is exhibition itself. Nevermind. We indicated off into the almost empty car-park only to be waved down by someone who, a touch ironically, had a face like a wet weekend. He informed us that it was £5 for the privilege of parking our car into what looked like a plane crash site, all jagged and cratered. I try to crack a joke that ‘I’m not bringing a coach in’ but he wasn’t having any of that, so we paid up and did the very British thing of sitting in the car bitching on about it.

£5 though. Yes, it’s not a great amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but it’s grasping. Why a fiver? Am I going to tear up five pounds worth of tarmac primly parking my DS3? Was he going to bring it around for me when we left? There’s simply no need for it, especially out of season. Still twisting our faces, we stole a glance at the leaflet, which promised ‘something to do for every member of the family’. Hmph.

I just want you to know that at this point I had an absolutely killer joke lined up but the other half censored it because he said ‘think of the complaints’ – spoilsport. But see we do have limits.

Our first stop was to the giant tat shop, which was full of all the lovely things only people in their nineties buy for other people in their nineties that they don’t like – fudge that predates decimalisation, clothes you wouldn’t wear for a bet and all sorts of lead-based paperweights, pencils and cough sweets. I can’t imagine a single soul in their life has desired an ashtray showing people they once went to the absolute arse-end of the country they’re smoking in, but hell, here they were, and cheap at only half your dignity. We sniffed the scented candles with all their wank names: “Cornwall Wash”, “Grasping Bastards” and “Fuck Me, A Fiver?!” all leaving a sour taste in our mouths. The one item I quite fancied, a small slab of designer (!?) chocolate, caught my eye, until I realised it would be cheaper to buy Hotel Chocolat in Newcastle and have someone walk it down to the Cornwall cottage. We did end up parting with coins though – everywhere we go we always get some item of pure unadulterated tat for the games room – and so a lovingly, hand-painted snowglobe was bought, depicting what looks like Dachau in the midst of a wailing snowstorm, but is ostensibly a tiny representation of the visitor centre. Incidentally, Cornwall is the least likely place to get snow in the entire United Kingdom, so it only seemed appropriate that they’d have a huge display of snowglobes. Perhaps it was tiny fivers billowing about under the glass. Again, and there’s going to be a theme here, sorry, but we were served by someone who had all the personality and warmth of an unapologetic fart. She served us like we were inconveniencing her terribly, despite us and a gaggle of equally depressed looking Chinese tourists being the only people in her shop, and she slapped down our produce and money like they were on fire. I’ve never heard have a good day said with such venom. We pressed on.

They describe the opportunity to ‘feel like a giant by visiting our miniature village’. I love stuff like this, it’s such a British thing to do, but once we’d lumbered over there, it was shut for repairs. I looked carefully and didn’t see any 1/16th sized cement mixers going about their business or Subbuteo-sized men in hi-viz jackets standing around scratching their arse. Ah well, there’s other stuff to do, something for everyone remember? We looked at the leaflet and saw we could choose between an ‘Aardman exhibition’ (I’m sure I went to something along those lines in Berlin) or ‘Arthur’s Quest’. Well, nothing says welcome to Cornwall like nosing around claymation and oohing over a bloody animation studio based in er, Bristol. Right. We thought we’d give it a go, not least because it was indoors and it was getting a mite cold so close to the sea, but er, it was shut. Wahey – that fiver’s worth of parking seemed even more reasonable at this point. Being plucky, cheerful Geordies, we sucked up our disappointment and decided to try Arthur’s Quest, which was an interactive maze narrated by Brian Blessed. Even if it was appalling, the fact that Brian was going to be shouting orders at you would make it hilarious. The man has a gift – he could sit me down and tell me my spine was turning to dust and my penis was about to fall off and I’d still walk out of the surgery slapping my knees and guffawing. 

But, it was closed. Three for three of pure disappointment. That left buying a Cornish pasty at the little café but frankly, Paul was beginning to have chest pains through too much pastry so we sacked that off and decided to walk, slowly, to get a picture of the famous sign which points to various destinations around the world – New York 3147 miles, John O’Groats 874 miles, decent tourist attractions anywhere but here. Here’s another cherry on top of this bun of disappointment. You’re expected to pay £9.95 to get your photo taken by the sign and it’s actually chained off so  anyone with the temerity to think this is a bloody ripoff can’t just hop over and take a photo. There’s a passive-aggressive sign saying it’s someone’s family business and to respect that. The man in the little booth glared at us as we took a picture regardless. I would have cheerfully have paid a couple of quid or stuck a smaller note into a charity box but a tenner? For a photo? Haway. It’s possibly the most famous sign in Britain, let people take a photo with it and then they’ll go spend the rest of their money in the eateries and shops around (assuming they’re bloody open) and everyone is a winner! This outrageous nickle-and-diming, prevalent all throughout Cornwall, did my absolute nut in. It’s free to have a photo taken at the other end up at John O’Groats, and I can’t imagine you need to pay to park either. Anyway, I reassured Paul I’d photoshop the two of us seamlessly into the picture and I reckon I’ve done a cracking job:

nailedit

Seriously I should work for Vogue touching up their photos, you can barely tell.

You know when you think a place couldn’t get any worse? It managed it – the telescopes to look out to sea were more expense and only sought to bring the fog and mist closer to us. There was a wee lighthouse to look at but I could have had the same magnification effect by moving my glasses an inch down my nose. Paul was inexplicably wearing his sunglasses despite me referring to him as Homocop all day. There was a little bird hide to sit for a bit to see the kittiwakes, but naturally, that was closed too. That especially disappointed me because I was at least hoping for a magnificent shag at this point, given there was no-one around. Bah! We mooched on for a bit more and decided to try and salvage the hour by having a cup of tea in the First & Last House a bit up the hill. I presume that’s been renamed from ‘The Last Place in England’ because they were sick of hearing people saying they’d never drink there again if it were the last place in England. We asked for two cups of tea and were handed two paper cups of hot water with a teabag hanging in it. For not a kick-off-the-arse-of £4. Something which I reckon would cost at maximum 5p to make. Even the milk was in those awful little sealed cups you get on aeroplanes, that jettison their contents all over your trousers if you so much as blink at them. And, yes, the woman serving us was hostile and unpleasant and had a face like a grieving cod.

At this point we’d spent £16.70 for the opportunity to make our own tea, park in a crater and look at some ‘closed’ signs. I was spitting. I’m not a tight-arse when it comes to money, far from it, but there’s got to be a line. I’ll happily put money into a charity pot or buy a magazine or wince my way through an overpriced ice-cream but charging people to park up and then not telling them most of the exhibitions are closed, or to take a photo of a landmark? Ridiculous, and honestly, it’s very much a southern thing. That isn’t some parochial Geordie tubthumping either, but take for example our Angel of the North – you turn up to this massive piece of artwork, park for nowt, can walk all over it, climb on the bugger, hell someone even put a giant Newcastle shirt on it once, and it costs not a penny. There’s occasionally an ice-cream man there peddling 99s but that’s about it. If Anthony Gormley had had a fit of the vapours and plopped his pin in Newquay instead of Newcastle, you’d have the Angel boxed off from sight unless you paid a tenner, someone selling pasties the size and price of a small family car between her legs and an inexplicable (and inevitably closed) exhibition all about something local and relevant like ooh…geisha girls, for an extra forty quid. Bah.

I’ll say one good thing: the cliffs were pretty. But then so are the cliffs at the Ring of Kerry and I didn’t have my pockets patted down there either.

I’ve never driven away from a place so quickly and angrily as I did that afternoon. The sound of gravel and soil churning under my tyres was almost drowned out by the sound of my teeth gnashing. If I can take one comfort from all of this is that I managed to at least use £5 worth of toilet paper dropping off a tod of barely digested pasty in the netty before I went. Take that, you grasping bastards!

low syn honey and rosemary garlic with roasted vegetables

to make honey and rosemary chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts (look at the size of the chicken breast in that picture – it’s a Musclefood chicken breasts and they’re tasty and plump and pert, like a good breast should be. I’m told. You’ll get loads of them in our fantastic freezer filler box – take a look and see!)
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp garlic, chopped finely
  • any vegetables of your choice (we used 1 courgette, 2 peppers, 1 red onion, handful of asparagus spears, handful of black olives, basically any old shite you have tumbling around amongst the chocolate and the crisps)

to make honey and rosemary chicken you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees and chop your vegetables into large chunks or slices
  • spray with a little frylight (or some Fillipo Berio olive oil – that’s what we do, 7 sprays for half a syn) and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes. you won’t need to turn it – we sometimes add a sprinkle of salt or balsamic vinegar, especially when we’re using tomatoes)
  • meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the honey, lemon juice, rosemary and chopped garlic
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the chicken breasts 
  • cook for about 10 minutes, and flip over
  • after five minutes, pour the the honey mixture over the chicken and into the pan and cook for another five minutes
  • serve the chicken on top of the roasted vegetables

Easy! And yes, it might be a fraction more than 0.5 syns – perhaps a quarter of a syn more – but buggered if I’m going to shit the bed over a quarter of a syn.

J