spicy szechuan beef, and the coach trip continues, god help us

Spicy szechuan beef? Delicious. Coach trip holidays? Awful. If you just want the recipe for spicy szechuan beef, scroll on down to the picture. If you want part two of our awful holiday story, then you’re in luck because look – part two, right away!

click here for part one, god-help-you

When you last left us we were just sliding off a sweaty bus like how corned beef slides straight out of the tin, with an oozing plop. My shirt had been ruined by the blood and brain matter leaking from my ears and Paul was about one sassy remark away from stabbing someone in the eye with a Snickers bar. I’ve never been happier to leave a bus – we could have been touring a fat rendering factory and I’d have skipped off that bus with less relief.

Cadbury World, then. You’d think that as two confirmed fat bastards we’d be walking around a chocolate factory with tented trousers and a quickening heartbeat, but it was crap. It was your typical British experience – far too expensive, far too many people, duff displays, every opportunity to shake some more money from your pockets gladly taken. Our bus arrived for the 1.30pm entrance in good time but we still had to wait for over an hour in a queue full of fractious children and beetroot-necked adults. I asked how long we’d have to wait but realised it looked unseemly pressing for quick entrance to a chocolate factory.

We decided to nip over to the gift shop – I’d heard such wonderful things about this place – that the chocolate was super-cheap, that they practically force-feed you chocolate and other sweets, that you get tugged off using a handful of Crunchies, but no, it was entirely meh. Don’t get me wrong, things were cheap, but I’ve got a Cadbury’s outlet within stroke distance of where I live and it’s cheaper there and I get to look disdainfully at all of the reprobates buying their court suits from the Burtons outlet. We bought a tiny Bertie Bassett doll and a painted plastic duck, handed over altogether too much money to a cashier who didn’t so much look bored as pig sick of her life, and rejoined the throng.

I should make it clear – one good thing – we didn’t have to troop around the factory with the rest of the coach trip. We successfully managed to distance ourselves, although not by the 300 or so miles I would have liked. We could still hear a lot of them quarrelling and snarling in the distance, like chavvy Langoliers.

The queue finally moved forward and we were given four chocolate bars each to be getting on with, with an extra one to apologise for a ‘closed exhibit’. More on that a bit later. I did ask whether we could have a bag only to be met with a look that would stop a clock. Apparently such a thing was beyond the wit of man unless I paid something silly for a fancy tote bag. I don’t want a tote bag, I don’t do yoga. We were left to stuff the chocolate into our pockets (along with the gifts we bought earlier) which meant, given we’d been superheated on the coach, everything immediately melted and made putting my hands in my pockets a terrifyingly shitty experience.

We wandered around the jungle bit which explained where the cocoa came from, we enjoyed the god-bless-them-they’re-trying acting parts and hell, we were both glad of a sit down in the little theatre. Again, though, because we were packed in there like level 999 tetris pieces, it was hard to relax. There’s a bit with big scary signs saying ‘people with heart, back or neck problems should stand up’ which got us both quivering with excitement and hypertension but it amounted to nothing more than the ‘pews’ shaking a bit and making our tits jiggle. You just know there’s hidden camera footage somewhere on xtube of this.

Then…that was it, really. There’s a whole section where you can see the factory and machinery which makes and packages the chocolate but er, it was all closed down. So you’re left squinting at some dusty machines trying to figure out if they splurted the yellow bits into creme eggs or packaged up the Love Hearts. It’s about as exciting as I’m making it sound. Both Paul and I are massive geeks when it comes to production lines and factories, we find them endlessly fascinating, which is lucky as our TV is seemingly permanently tuned to How It’s Made. Nuclear war could be declared and we’d be oblivious, though if you needed to know how they mix paint we’d be cooking on gas.

We kept walking in the vain hope we’d find something to do. There’s an outdoors bit with a big 4D cinema, which I’m sure would have been just amazing only there was a massive queue (gasp) and we needed to be back on the Boat of Charon by 4pm. So, that was that. We queued up to experience the Cadabra (a little too close to cadaver if you ask me, although that seems fitting given we were bored to death) ride where you sit on a little guided car and experience the thrills of 90s animatronics whirring by. It was like being at Disney, only not at all. We deliberately pulled the most miserable faces we could when the camera went off which at least gave us a chuckle when we bought our photo at the end of it (£10, which I was overjoyed to pay).

Now, here’s the thing. I’m kvetching about the cost of stuff here because it’s a blog post and we have to try and be faintly entertaining, and the moaning about money is part of our schtick. But we hide it very well when talking to staff or other people because christ, no-one likes a proper moaning minnie. The reason I mention this is because we ‘made a friend’ –  the very second we gave up and sat outside to wait for the bus, another traveller made a beeline for us with his face full of woe. He then spent the next five minutes moaning at us about what a waste of money the trip was, how ripped off he felt, how it was the worst thing he’s ever experienced in his life. You know when someone looks as though their face hasn’t seen a smile for a good few years? This was him. The type of guy to complain if you hung him with a new rope.

Oh and I just couldn’t be arsed. Let me put this in perspective – if he paid anything like us, the whole journey – bus travel, hotel stay, dinner, breakfast, a trip to Cadbury World and a trip to a safari park would have cost less than £80 for the whole weekend. The way he was going on you’d think the driver had co-signed him on a fucking mortgage and made him buy the bus. I feigned explosive diarrhoea and we left him to his sobs. I can’t abide it. I know I’m a negative nancy but by god I put a good fake face on when needed. The fact that we had to hide from him meant that we had to hide in the toilets for a good twenty minutes and then, when 4pm rocked around, we sprinted onto the bus before he had a chance to give us the old watery-eyed gaze.

The hour long trip to the hotel was as bad as the six hours that preceded it. Kids screaming, this time sugared off their tits. Parents arguing. The couple in front continuing to give me enough reason to contemplate running screaming to the front of the bus, grabbing the steering wheel and driving us straight into the Gas Street Basin. Thankfully, we pulled into our hotel before I completely lost control. There was more awed oohing that I can ever imagine has happened before as our eyes fell upon the Birmingham Airport Holiday Inn.

We all checked in, moving like cattle at the slaughterhouse. I asked about dinner, expecting a couple of hours window forus to drift downstairs and get something to eat, only to be told that all of the coach party would be eating in the same place – a meeting room away from the main restaurant at 6pm sharp. I retorted whether they expected us to wear an orange jumpsuit to complete the prison feel but it fell on uninterested ears. We slinked to our room – perfectly pleasant – and had a lie down until 6pm. We decided to brave it.

We lasted less than a minute. We opened the door to the meeting room, saw everyone sitting in rows like Hogwarts: The Borstal Years, was pushed out of the way by someone with more make-up than sense carrying four blue WKDs, then we turned on our heel and fucked off. No way was I going to top the day by listening to people smacking their lips and clacking their teeth as they snaffled from the trough.

Stuck with nothing to do and no change of clothes for a decent night on the town, we decided to spend the rest of the night in the room watching Eurovision on the tiny television, which was shite. We ordered room service: a burger, a pizza, some dips, a bottle of Coke and a bottle of house white wine. £75. I hadn’t realised that I was paying someone to press the fucking grapes. Our room grew steadily hotter thanks in no small part to the air-conditioner which couldn’t have blown the froth off a cappuccino and at 11, we called down for a fan. Nineteen years later a small fan was brought to the room.

Naturally, the fan had a fucking blade missing, meaning it was unbalanced and when turned on it clattered and scattered all over the table. It would have been quieter to build a wind turbine. I asked for another fan, another was brought – this one didn’t work. Didn’t switch on. I called down for a third fan and finally a working fan arrived. Pfft.

We spent the night tossing and turning in the sticky heat and, at around 4am, we both kicked off the duvet, sat upright in bed and decided we were going to go home. We would hire a car in the morning and drive back in air-conditioned comfort. Soothed by this thought, we fell into a fitful sleep.

In the morning we went down and told the driver that we had been called urgently back to work – he was really quite lovely – but even seeing the coach sent Paul into violent tremors. Once we knew that we were free the morning became all the more sweeter. We went for all-you-can-breakfast in the hotel restaurant which was very tasty and marred only slightly by the fact there was a bodybuilding competition on at the hotel and thus it was full of preening peacocking men strutting around in vests and mooing on about egg-white omelettes.

Paul and I enjoyed a bit of mischief when this very well-to-do fart sat down on the table next to us and started harrumphing about our giant stack of food. He was, but of course, a Daily Mail reader, so we sat and exaggerated our liberal viewpoints – going on about how wonderful immigration is, how terrific Corbyn will be as a leader, how they should fund the NHS until money pours from the drip stands – and he went more and more red in the face as we continued. Paul kicked me under the table when I started waxing lyrical about how fantastic Europe is lest it proved too much for the poor chap and he pitched forward angrily into his beans.

Full, we Ubered our way to Birmingham Airport, made our way to the Hertz exchange and picked up a Qashqai. The lovely lady (and I’m not being sarcastic, she was charm personified, especially when faced with our dour faces) wouldn’t let me haggle though, even when I worked in a ‘family death’ and ‘having to cut our holiday short’. Bah. We drove back in no rush, enjoying a good singalong, and realised that our holidays will only ever work when it’s just us vs the world.

Coach trip, done. Now let’s never talk about it again. Common decency prevents me mentioning the company we used but actually, they were the only part of the holiday that worked well, so fair play.


Right, shall we get to some spicy szechuan beef, then? A doddle to make, low in syns and you can add all sorts of other veg in. The recipe makes enough for four. Let’s do this.

to make spicy szechuan beef you will need:

  • 400g beef (steak, diced or strips will do you just fine)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 large carrot
  • 500g rice noodles
  • 3 spring onions, sliced

for the sauce

  • 1 tbsp sriracha (½ syn) (it’s hot sauce_)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 2 tsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (2 syns)

Our hampers have beef strips in – but actually, here’s a switch: you can now choose what you want to go in your hamper – so if you’re not a fan of beef, say (unlike me), hoy some more chicken in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

to make spicy szechuan beef you should:

  • make sure the beef is sliced into thin strips – if you’re already using stir fry strips they’re fine as they are. diced beef will be best cut in half (it also makes it go further!)
  • place the beef in a large bowl
  • mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chilli flakes and cornflour in a bowl and pour over the beef – allow to marinade while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
  • thinly slice the red and green pepper and garlic (or just use the chopped stuff if you can’t be arsed) and pop into a bowl
  • peel and grate the carrot and place in the bowl with the peppers and garlic
  • next, mix together all of the sauce ingredients together in a jug
  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain and then rinse with cold water to stop them cooking – keep aside until you need them later
  • next, heat a large frying pan over a medium high head and add a little oil
  • add the beef and cook for a few minutes until only a little pink remains
  • add the peppers, garlic and carrots to the pan and cook for a few more minutes
  • add the sauce to the pan and cook until thickened slightly and everything is well coated
  • add the noodles to the pan and stir to mix (bit of a faff-on, mind – use a couple of forks to pull the noodles apart and get it well mixed)
  • serve and sprinkle over the spring onions

Done and done! Looking for more fakeaway recipes or stuff to do with your meat? Aren’t we all. Click the buttons!

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J

homemade coronation chicken – perfect for jacket potatoes

Here for the coronation chicken? You should be, it’s bloody amazing. You know where you often find coronation chicken? In a sandwich. Guess where you can buy sandwiches? At a service station. What stops at a service station? Coaches. A coach you say? Like a coach holiday? Holiday post? No problem! I know, classic segue right? Hmm.

You know when people say you should never wish your life away? They’re right. It’s far more fun to spend your time wishing great calamity on the wider public. You know how we are trying to squeeze twelve holidays into this year? Well, we recently returned from our 3rd holiday (actually our sixth, but sssh) and I need to get all my love out before I forget any precious detail. You’ll find out how we spent almost £400 to have a burger in Birmingham Airport. Look, here’s a banner…

Do you want some good news? This isn’t going to be one of those holidays that spreads out over several posts whilst I witter on about sculptures and Paul’s flatulence. This is a two entry only deal, much like Alton Towers, or unlike my anus. We decided on a coach tour because frankly, I’d spent enough time stuck behind the fuckers on the A1 that I could rattle off their booking number like my own email address. I thought I’d love it all, me: the camaraderie, the singing, the whip-round for the driver, the toilet stops.

I was wrong.

Before I start though, a quick word. Rather like the caravan holiday, I know a coach trip might be the highlight of the year for some folks, and if it is, more power to your elbow. Different strokes for different folks and all. So keep your angry diatribes and moaning emails for someone who cares.

I should have realised something was amiss when we got on the coach and didn’t see a sea of lightly trembling lilac and nicotine-yellow hair. I was expecting something like what I posted last time, which I’ve had to mock-up in Photoshop as no photo demonstrates my point:

It took me hours to do that, but I reckon you can barely see the joins.

It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that at all. A few folks of around our age climbed aboard and we were left thinking how marvellous it would be if the coach sped away down the A19 with just us brave souls aboard, lounging around with plenty of space to do our Puzzlers and gawp out of the window. That would have happened but we stopped in Gateshead where a fair litter of children got on with their parents. I knew straight away that all hope was lost when one of the mothers reached into her PAWLS’ BOOTIKUE bag, pulled a full can of Relentless (it’s like Red Bull, only a quid cheaper) out and gave it to her five year old kid. Now that’s parenting. That shit gives me heart palpitations and I’m the size of a small family car, for goodness sake. Within ten minutes the kid was manic with energy and bouncing around, but don’t worry, she gave him a bump of ket as we passed Middlesbrough which seemed to settle him down.

The next and final pick-up filled the bus to the brim with yet more parents and their darling offspring. A couple behind us were arguing as they got on the coach, arguing as they sat down and arguing all the way to the services. Not an interesting argument, you understand, I lost interest after the eight hundredth ‘naaaw nah’ and ‘like’, but enough to provide background noise. A kid to our right threw up within I reckon three minutes of sitting down, leading to his mother chastising the sod and telling him he if threw up again they’d need to cancel their holiday. Poor little mite – as if he was deliberately sicking up his Cocoaed Pips. I gave her a look. To cap it off, a very new-age mother and her male friend got on, sat together and left their children to sit by themselves across the aisle.

That would be fine, save for the fact he wouldn’t stop shouting for her and she didn’t stop yelling at him.

All of this combined made for a great first couple of hours, didn’t it? I felt like the camera operator on Jeremy Kyle. It was like having tinnitus, only instead of a high-pitched whine we had a Geordie one in 360 degrees. Paul went to sleep, the Big Fat Judas, and my headphones were in my suitcase which was packed away, leaving me with nothing to do but sweat (the bus was roasting) and listen to the badly-tuned radio hissing away above me. I was contemplating using the emergency hammer to stave my skull in when the driver announced we were stopping for a refreshment break. Hooray!

I have mentioned many times how much I love to stop at the services when I’m driving – nothing makes my heart soar than gambling away all my change in the rigged machines and then prostituting myself until I have enough bank notes to buy myself a cup of piss-weak tea and a phlegmy-burger from McDonalds. I adore trying to piss whilst simultaneously fending off obvious cottaging and trying not to pass out from the urine fumes. I get goosebumps now just thinking about the feeling of knowing some fat-cankled youngster is going to scratch my car with a carelessly thrown open door and then get sticky Calippo fingerprints all over the bonnet as she heaves herself through. I can tolerate all of that – and more – for about ten minutes.

Naturally, we stopped for almost an hour. Why? Twenty minutes would surely be enough for everyone to go trembling into the toilets for a slash, then out again, then for another quick try before setting off? Nah. Of course not. That’s not to say that the hour we had was all bad though – our boredom was alleviated by people watching, noticeably:

  • the sheer amount of DILFs swarming around – I don’t know if it was because there were loads of construction crew, football supporters and lorry drivers milling about but I nearly fainted from having an erection for 50 minutes – Paul had to bring me a sweet tea and a blindfold before my shoes started squelching; and
  • an old woman with a face like an unmade bed smoking two cigarettes at once.

Two! I appreciate that you probably get to 90 years old and think ah fuck it, I’ve beaten lung cancer, let’s double down, but that’s serious commitment to addiction. We’re not talking holding one cigarette whilst she finished the other, we’re talking alternating between each hand on every other breath, bringing her hands up to her face like she was doing an American sobriety test where you have to touch your nose. Her face reflected every single cigarette she’d ever smoked and was an advertisement for giving up  – you’d need to put make-up on with one of those Ronseal-spray guns you use for decking, it was that lined and creased.

We only noticed her because we were standing in the queue which snaked out of the Greggs outlet. You may remember I’m Geordie. She had a place in the queue too but clearly thought that as she was immediately outside the shop and not inside that such courtesies as not forcing every other poor bastard to develop emphysema whilst they waited for a steak bake needed to be observed. I thanked God, who I don’t believe in, that she didn’t climb onto our coach. Her coach was yellow-tinted, ran on lungbutter and hockle and had ‘Golden Tours of Virginia’ on the side.

After forlornly picking at our Greggs dinner and wondering whether or not we had time to set up a gloryhole station in the lorry park, we were allowed back onto the coach. I’d hoped that the driver might have aired it out a little but no, it was still lovely and stuffy. I felt my thigh fat sizzle as I pressed the metal latch of the seatbelt against it. Part of me – and I use ‘part’ in the same way that a ‘fat’ person might want part of a delicious cake i.e. all of it – hoped that our charming seatmates in front and behind had accidentally wandered onto the wrong coach and were bound for a weekend in Runcorn, but no, here they came, Mikey-this and Mikey-thatting all down the bloody aisle. My eyes rolled back so far into my head that I was able to act as a reversing camera for the driver.

The next 100 miles or so passed in an unending, dismal blur of listening to the guy behind us shout at his kid for absolutely any little thing and the lady in front of me doing absolutely anything but FUCKING GETTING UP AND SITTING NEXT TO HER OFFSPRING. I tried to doze but at least every twenty seconds I’d hear MIKEY STOP IT MIKEY or MIKEY GIVE ME THE AYE-PAD or MIKEY BE NICE TO YOUR BROTHER or MIKEY YOU CAN’T GO TO THE TOILET or MIKEY DO YOU WANT SOME HARIBO SOME CRUNCHIE A HAM SANDWICH AN EGG SANDWICH A FUCKING BAGEL DO YOU WANT ONE DO YOU DO YOU DO YOU MIKEY MIKEY MIKEY DO YOU MIKEY CAN YOU HEAR ME MIKEY

AAAARGH! I have never, in all my life, been closer to snapping and shouting at a stranger. It was only the fact that she had her kids with her that prevented me from getting up, kicking the emergency exit door open and throwing myself into traffic. It was infuriating. I know that looking after children is tough but here’s a tip, dear heart, get up and BLOODY MOVE NEXT TO YOUR KID IF YOU NEED TO SPEAK TO HIM! DON’T YELL ACROSS THE BLOODY AISLE. I glanced a look at Paul and his eyes was twitching maniacally so I knew we had barely any time.

Oh and just to act as a cherry on top of this shitstorm, they devised a game which involved her loudly announcing everything she could see on her side of the bus. You try relaxing when you’ve got someone shouting I’VE GOT A HOSPITAL or PATEL’S BOOZE NEWS AND CONVENIENCE or ABORTION CLINIC in front of you. I felt so drained and weak by the time we pulled into Cadbury’s World that had the Fraud Squad got on and asked me how I was doing, I’d have confessed to the Brinks Mat robbery just to get some peace.

Please: if you’re a parent reading this, just remember one thing – not everyone thinks you and your children are darling and just-so. I’m fine with crying babies, I’m fine with fussy toddlers, I don’t mind kids being kids, that’s what they’re all about. But I do mind you making a racket or dragging everyone else into your drama. Have the bloody manners and respect you rightly expect everyone else to have.

Before we get to Cadbury’s World, I’ll say this: all of the kids on the bus were fine! They behaved exactly like how you’d expect kids on a long coach trip to act and I can say nothing bad about them. Hell, one little anklebiter made me laugh out loud when he, in response to being told to quieten down by his exasperated father, replied with a hearty ‘FUCK OFF’.

He couldn’t have been older than four.

Part two soon.


This recipe makes enough for four big servings (pictured is one serving) of really good coronation chicken – plus you can tweak it however you like. A little pot of coronation chicken from ASDA is 22 syns – this is a perfect low-syn alternative!

to make homemade coronation chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts (want some that are way more than a handful? Get some from our fantastic Musclefood deal!) 
  • 2 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp fat-free natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney (2 syns)
  • ½ tsp mild curry powder
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 10g sultanas (1.5 syns)

to make homemade coronation chicken you should:

  • cook the chicken breasts by heating a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a little oil or frylight
  • place the breasts in the pan and leave to cook for about 10 minutes (the edges should start to go opaque)
  • after ten minutes, reduce the heat to medium, flip the breasts over and cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 10-15 minutes until cooked through
  • allow breasts to cool, and cut into small cubes
  • meanwhile, mix together all of the other ingredients in a large bowl
  • add the chicken and stir to combine

Now come on, that was a piece of piss, wasn’t it?

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Yum!

J

asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata

Hey there! After yesterday’s overnight oats recipe, we’re mixing it up a little and going for a lunch idea! A frittattatatatatataaatataatata. Or however it is meant to be spelled. A frittata is an excellent Slimming World lunch idea because a) you can hoy any old shite into it and b) as long as that any old shite doesn’t contain Wispa bars and bottles of Becks, it’ll probably be syn free. Plus it’ll keep in the fridge until time immemorial and depending how fancy you want to be, doesn’t cost that much to make! WINNER.

I have a favour to ask: if you enjoy tonight’s entry, please share it! Or leave some feedback. Make me happy.

So my recipe for asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata will follow, but first, remember how I said I was doing short posts for the week and a long post on the weekend? Well, I’m true to my word. Here’s the long one. Just relax, take it easy – push out a bit, grit your teeth, bite the pillow – it’ll make it so much easier for you. Let me take you to the third and final part of our caravan holiday. Parts one and two are linked below. I’ve even set them to open in a new window for your viewing pleasure…

REMEMBER OUR CAVEAT! Loads of people out there love caravanning. If you’re one of them, don’t get sand in your vag just because it didn’t look like it would be our cup of tea. Everyone has different tastes, remember! 

click here for part one | click here for part two

We were just drifting off to the land of nod when suddenly: sex noises. Worse: unexpected sex noises that were not our own. From a nearby caravan, echoing from their open window into our dreams.

You’ve never lived until you’ve tried to doze off to the sounds of a long-married couple having the most perfunctory sex you’ve ever heard echoing around a tiny caravan bedroom. They must have left their window open (presumably because it was such a hot-bed of sin in there) and so we were treated to him grunting like a stuck pig and her saying ‘yeah’ and ‘oooh’ in the same disinterested manner as someone choosing a wedding toaster from the Argos catalogue. Thankfully the eighteen pints of Stella sloshing in his belly didn’t put him off and he came to a thundering climax in no time at all, complete with loud feverish gasps and cries to a point where I nearly threw on my slacks and rushed out shouting ‘I’M DEFIBRILLATOR TRAINED! SHAVE HIS CHEST!’. Thankfully he was too much of a gentleman to worry about her satisfaction and his snoring, together with what sounded like an electric toothbrush playing a tennis racket, soon wafted into our bedroom. I rolled over, put Brain of Britain on, and we wandered off to sleep.

Only to be rudely awoken with Round 2 forty minutes later. Clearly there has been a buy one get one free on Viagra down at the social cluuuurb because, god save us, he was going for a silver medal. This time the whole experience so much longer, presumably because the pipes had recently been cleaned, and even though we shut the window, we could still hear squelch and creak. It sounded like two people carrying a sofa up a tight flight of stairs. If that’s what straight sex sounds like, I’ll stick with the cock, thank you. You tend to know where you are with a cock. Anyway, this time, when he shot his bolt, we both gave him a cheery round of applause – then hid under our duvet in case he came to our window. Poor lamb must have had jelly legs though because he stayed put. Thankfully that was it for the night and indeed, the weekend.

We awoke fresh-faced the next morning and, faced with eight years on the game just to pay for a box of off-brand cornflakes and a pint of on-the-turn-milk from the on-site shop, we decided to go out for breakfast. A quick neb on Tripadvisor revealed The Riverside Cafe as the place to be so we hopped into town, parked up on the wrong side of the river and waddled our way down. We took barely any photos on this holiday but if I show you this one, it’ll sum up ‘British seaside’ perfectly for you.

Have you ever seen a more depressed seagull? Well…

WAKE ME UP INSIDE SAAAAAAAVE ME

When we arrived at the cafe it was completely full. Paul dissolved into floods of tears and I bravely asked if we could reserve a table. They advised us to nip back in about half an hour, leaving us to stumble around the nearby docks for thirty minutes. That was Paul’s suggestion – I wanted to press my watery-eyed face up against the window, wailing in anguish, until a table was cleared out of sheer discomfort. We returned 10 minutes later than planned because we thought it would look unseemly and too keen to turn up on time – I didn’t want all the customers thinking that we were so fat and greedy that we couldn’t wait. We were then faced with the next dilemma: as two confirmed fatties we were clearly in need of the biggest fry-up option but we didn’t want to drown in tuts so we had to go for the middle breakfast, which was still enough to fell a horse. It was delicious. I love a fry-up but people can get it so wrong – I once received a fry-up with friggin’ spinach on it. Why? Who thinks ‘yes, I want crippling chest pains and iron’ when they order breakfast? Don’t worry, I hurled it off the wall and stomped out. I can heartily recommend The Riverside Cafe though – lovely staff too!

Bellies full, we gasped, wheezed and cardiac-arrested our way back to the car and decided on a jaunt over the causeway to Holy Island to start the day. A quick glance at the tide timetable clarified that we wouldn’t be swept away to Norway and so we were set. You’d be amazed how many cars ignore the fact that THE FUCKING NORTH SEA SWALLOWS THE ROAD UP twice a day. We’re not talking about driving through a puddle that you can drive through like a twat! Yet we see loads of the buggers on the news, always in massive twatmobiles, bobbing around in the water with the good folks of the RNLI rescuing them. I think that’s the wrong approach. If I was in charge, I’d knock down the emergency refuge tower, then whenever some dickhead in an oversized Audi got stuck, I’d send someone out in the boat to put their windows through with a hammer and drown the arseholes for their own stupidity. I’m sorry, but I think that’s a perfectly rational response. I’d play Nearer My God To Thee over the boat’s PA system as they sank beneath the waves blubbing mindlessly about their children.

We, not being mouthbreathing numbskulls, made it over safely and parked up. We are members of the National Trust (you may recall Paul is a Rear Admiral and I am a Doctor when it comes to the National Trust, which makes small-talk super awkward when they comment on it as they check our passes) and so parking was free. Which was great, because the bloody castle was completely closed. Oh and the rain. I’d have been drier if we had got stuck on the bloody causeway. We wandered a bit around the little village but it was just so relentlessly miserable that we didn’t stay. We tried – we paid a few quid for a look around the Lindisfarne museum which was full of helpful staff and dated displays, though we were glad to have a bit of a nana-nap in the tiny cinema. We nipped into the nearby shop to buy some mead but after tasting it and realising I’d sooner drink battery acid, we bought an overpriced bottle of gin and made for the car. On a sunny day Holy Island is tremendous and there’s some beautiful walks and views to be afforded, but today was not that day.

After a quick reconnoitre of our available options in the local area we decided to make for a nearby honey farm, thinking at least we’d be able to get ourselves a scone and make the best of a bad day. We struggled to find the place, taking a brief but arresting diversion into a farmer’s field, but soon the big double-decker that serves as their cafe loomed into view. Hooray, but no, the place was closed for the season, despite showing as being open on Tripadvisor. Ah well. These things happen. We spotted something called Conundrum Farm which had a petting zoo and if there’s one thing I like doing on a caravan holiday, it’s handling a snake until it spits in my eye. The farm was aptly named – we went to the address on the website only to end up in the middle of nowhere, Scotland, gazing at a muddy field. We changed tack (because what fools we were for believing a website) and navigated using Google, who took us to an industrial estate. Truly, we were seeing the best of Berwick. Remembering that I’d seen a sign for a village called Conundrum when driving up to Edinburgh, we doubled down and went back over the border, followed the signs…and it was shut.

No mention of that on their website, either.

You can imagine, can’t you, how thrilled I was by this whole day, spent driving aimlessly through brown countryside in the pissing rain to visit a collection of closed signs because no-one could be arsed updating their websites? There’s so many comments about Conundrum Farm being ‘hard to find’ on Tripadvisor and yet, here we were – why not, oh I don’t know, put up a SIGN? Some directions on the website? Hell I’d settle for chalk arrows on tiles like Sarah had in Labyrinth if it meant not fucking about in a Smart car on the borders. BAH. We cycled through the rest of the options available only to find everything closed for the season, not open on a weekend or condemned. Clearly it was beyond the wit of man for local businesses to sync up with the first week of the season at the caravan park, eh?

I wish I could tell you we managed to fill the rest of the two days with jolly-hockey-stick activities, long rambles by the sea and urgent outdoor sex, but the first two eluded us and we were asked to stop the third because we were putting people off their fish and chips. We spent it for the most part curled up inside the very comfortable caravan watching Come Dine with Me and spilling dip on the carpet. Our evenings were spent watching Vera-like-Pet and drinking overpriced booze in the bar.

The only other notable moment was on the last night we decided to have another crack at the prize bingo. This time I confess to being rather tanked up on Stella and was far more into it than last time. You could have cut the tension with a knife, not least because I reckon about 60% of the blokes were probably carrying them. And 80% of the women – they were picking their tooth with them. Yes, deliberate.

The prize – a little better this time given we were playing for money – was in sight, but some fucker called house with me only needing one more number. My reaction was typical of my subtle, respectful nature – I shouted bastard out loud (the kids weren’t allowed inside). Ooops. Someone who looked about twelve and had less hair on his upper lip than I do on my big toe told me to ‘show some respect’ or he’d have me removed. I’ve never felt so admonished in all of my life. Was Bingo Fever catching and had it truly got a hold on me? Am I going to become one of those folks you see standing outside of Mecca Bingo in the pissing rain, trying to light a car-boot Superkings against the wind and putting far too much bronzer onto my crinkle-cut face? Paul removed me from the building before I had a chance to contemplate getting one of those clown-pendant necklaces and filling out a giro form.

We went back to the caravan and sobered up by having a tiny shower and a tiny poo in the tiny toilet. Living like queens! The night flew by in a blur of my frozen feet, thankfully no sex noises but plenty of moaning and groaning from Paul who was too hot, too cold, too boxed in, too far away, too fast, too furious, blah blah. I put my headphones in and stopped paying attention. We drove back the next morning and that was the caravan holiday done.

You know what? I bloody loved it. Even though literally nothing happened, literally, yeah, literally, it was a fun, relaxing weekend break. Yes, the park was super expensive for everything when you’re there but hey, there was a Tesco only fifteen minutes away, we were just too lazy to bother going. They nickel-and-dime you on everything but then, if you’re only paying £9.50 for a night, can you really complain? The caravan was spotlessly clean and very nicely put together and it destroyed my snobby preconceptions of caravan living, which was everything would smell of foist, other people’s jizz and chip-fat. No, I couldn’t smell any chip fat. Yes, there were plenty of your ‘stereotypical’ Sun readers wandering around and I did at times fear for my life but for the most part, it was lovely. There’s something just so romantic about trying desperately to scrub taramasalata out of a cream carpet on a rainy Sunday evening.

Would I go again? No, not to the same park, because why shit in the same toilet twice? I know, I paint such a pretty picture with my words. But the park itself, from the facilities to every single member of staff I met, was charming. Berwick was about as exciting as listening to the dial tone but hey, it’s a coastal town, not Benidorm. Thank god. Because can you imagine us two in Benidorm? Funny you should say that…

All done!


Let’s get to the asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata, shall we? Now look here. If you don’t like goat cheese, don’t use it. Not a fan of asparagus and the resultant piss that smells like something has died in your bladder? Understandable. Bacon get right on your boobs? Of course. Just swap them out for whatever you want. That’s the joy here – you can use anything! You will, however, need an oven-proof pan if you have one, it’ll just make life easier.

This made enough for 8 large slices. Oh and the ingredients are very fast and loose – feel free to change the quantities.asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata

asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata

to make an asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata, you’ll need:

  • about 500g of small new potatoes, cut into little cubes – not an exact science, you’re not making a Lego set, calm your tits
  • roughly 250g of asparagus – chopped into 1cm chunks – we had fancy black asparagus from Tesco because we’re just so damned fine
  • two large red onions, chopped finely
  • a few rashers of bacon, or chopped ham if you prefer, grilled off and diced up
  • 40g of soft goat cheese (1 x HEA)
  • 40g of lighter mature cheese (1 x HEA)
  • 7 or 8 eggs

Looking for a decent frying pan but not super expensive? A pan like this will serve you well!

to make an asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata, you should:

  • boil your cubes of potato and asparagus for about five minutes, just to take the bite off
  • meanwhile, fry off your onion and cooked bacon in a few sprays of olive oil until softened
  • pop the bacon, onion, asparagus and potato in a bowl with the goat cheese cut up into chunks
  • beat the eggs together with a good pinch of salt and black pepper and about half the grated cheese –
  • mix in with everything else, give it a good stir, then slop it all into the pan, sprinkling the rest of the cheese on top
  • you want to cook it for about 10 minutes or so on a medium heat just so the egg starts to firm up
  • whack it under the grill for about five to ten minutes – keep an eye on it, you want it to firm up, you’re not cremating the bugger
  • allow to cool, slice, and enjoy!

Eee I know, we do spoil you. Want yet more recipes? MORE?

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Enjoy!

J

absolutely gorgeous lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb

Goodness, I meant to post this lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb recipe over Easter, but I completely forgot. I’m terribly sorry. I was only reminded to do so as I drove through the countryside yesterday and saw the cute little buggers prancing about finding their feet and trying out their little baa? Yes, I was so struck by their cuteness that I thought I must tell you all how best to cook them. Ah I’m kidding, I’ve had this recipe typed up for ages. If lamb isn’t your thing, that’s fine – remember, we do an awful amount of vegetarian recipes too. We cover all bases here at twochubbycubs! Look, I’ll even break with tradition and put the vegetarian button in right at the front! No excuses!
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Right, with that out of the way, let’s get to eating! But first, the next part of our caravan tale! Would we have a comfortable sleep? Would Paul become Patient Zero on a super-gonorrhoea outbreak? Would I get change from a £20 note for any transaction? Read on!

REMEMBER OUR CAVEAT! Loads of people out there love caravanning. If you’re one of them, don’t get sand in your vag just because it didn’t look like it would be our cup of tea. Everyone has different tastes, remember! Also: the staff were amazing, each and all. Everyone was enthusiastic and cheerful and exactly the right sort of person you need working a holiday park.

click here for part one

When you last left us, we had emerged from our caravan, blinking feverishly against the one ray of sunlight that had managed to penetrate the completely overcast skies, and headed to the bar / arcade / moneypit. I think I had touched on the fact it was like being in a Joop-scented sea of badly-inflated balloons wearing fake tan and Matalan trainers? Clive James once described Arnold Schwarzenegger as looking like a ‘a brown condom stuffed with walnuts’ and it’s all I could think of. But anyway, let’s not go for the low-hanging fruit, eh?

We spent an hour in the arcade which, to be fair to them, was very decent indeed. It goes without saying that it feels as though most of the machines are rigged to buggery but that’s par for the course in places like this. We decided to see how many tickets we could rack up, knowing that as two grown men we’d be able to smash it no problem at all. I’d seen  a cute, if most likely highly flammable, Mario plushie in the ticket redemption box and damn it, I wanted it.

After a few goes on the ‘Deal or no Deal’ interactive game, where we won a few hundred tickets and only had minor trauma from seeing Noel Edmonds, then moved onto a ‘shoot the hoops’ game where Paul, with his boss-eyes, managed to not only miss the hoop but also ricochet a ball off the wall and straight off a passing child. Thankfully the kid’s parents were too busy smacking their other child to notice and Paul managed to placate the poor bugger with a few tickets. I won the jackpot on the ‘drop the ball into a tube’ game which meant another 1000 tickets dispensed into our waiting hands. What can I say, if there’s one thing I excel at, it’s handling the balls until we get to the money shot. Boom boom!

We attempted to play the fruities but I sharp realised we’d have more financial success if I just threw my pound coins into the sea. I don’t get how people spend all day in front of these things – I get a cold sweat if I lose a fiver, for goodness sake. The kid next to me was pumping his coins into them like he was feeding the electricity meter for Las Vegas and I couldn’t help but worry for his future. I wanted to slip him the number of Gamcare but didn’t fancy having some wardrobe-sized brute think I was propositioning his child and putting me in intensive care.

We did, however, hit the jackpot – Paul found a broken machine. It was a simple enough set-up – one of those crane machines where you move a crane with all the grip of an arthritic vicar’s handshake and pick a toy – only with this one you were guaranteed to win a prize, namely a little token with varying amounts of tickets on it. Here’s the thing: it wasn’t recognising when you won something so it kept letting you play, picking up more and more tokens. I’m not ashamed to say we absolutely rinsed the machine for about 4000 tickets, stopping only when Paul couldn’t fit any more of the little blocks into his pocket. We reckon we had about 6,000 tickets between us and boy, did we walk through that arcade like we were Rockafella. It might be a slight exaggeration to say we strutted, but our mince was definitely on point. We talked about plans for the future, what the riches so crammed in Paul’s pockets could bring us, happy times.

I resisted the urge to shout ‘DERRRUCK WE’RE AFF TO BENIDOOORM’ like the slobbering Rab C Nesbitt stunt-double from the Postcode Lottery advert.

What bounty did we claim I hear you shriek? Are we rolling around in pound coins like Scrooge McDuck? No. Here’s what we managed to trade our haul in for:

  • a slightly off-model Thomas the Tank Engine, now with 40% less asbestos fibres;
  • a little foam aeroplane
  • a little pig moneybox which Paul promptly dropped and they wouldn’t let us replace;
  • a bag of Starmix. Not a big bag, oh no, but one of the little bags you dish out at Hallowe’en if you’re a tightarse

PFFFT! To get the amount of tickets we’d ‘acquired’ you would have easily needed to spend over £100. I was spitting with rage. There was a prize up there that needed 14,000 tickets – I assume if you decide to go for that prize a loan advisor will come and have a chat with you next to the Mario Kart ride. Britain man, always trying to shake you down.

We decided to go for a calming drink and watch the entertainment ahead of the ‘PRIZE BINGO’ that we’d seen so many mentions of around the site. Paul found us a seat at the back – a good choice as the Lynx Africa and Charlie Red fumes had sunk to the floor – and I ordered us two pints of Stella. Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? Did the Romans beat their wives? I should have asked them to stick a cocktail umbrella and a sparkler in it for Paul as ‘my wife’. I took my seat and watched the entertainment, which consisted of lots of little children dancing and shrieking, off their tits on e-numbers and sensory overload. It frightens me how much energy children have and only reinforced exactly why we’ll never get one. I feel inconvenienced and hard done to when our cat meows too much of a morning, imagine having some screaming urchin smashing his fists on the kitchen table and knocking coco pops everywhere. BRRR.

Still, people were happy, everyone was having a good time and it was pleasant enough, until they brought out the mascots – from what I could tell, with my eyes scrunched up through cringing so hard – they were ‘lifeguards’. Lifeguards with normal sized bodies, of course, but those giant plastic faces.

I’m sorry, but these models were terrifying. Faces all weirdly shaped and big glassy dead eyes. Thinking about it, from the perspective of a small child, they probably look cute and heartwarming but to me all I could think of was the knock-off Frozen characters who came to a town event near me last year. Look at this picture and tell me they aren’t absolutely fucking terrifying:

Seriously? I can only imagine they’re from the rarely mentioned Frozen sequel where a mumps outbreak sweeps through. They look like the massively off-brand toys you win from a funfair run by thieves. Basically, if Bill Clinton fucked the Queen of Arendelle, this would be the result. I ought to stop. I just think these would be the last faces you see before death took you in its cold caress.

I winced and shuddered for the next half hour before the next big event was queued up. Now, let me warn you, the next bit is horrific.

Let me just describe a moment of the entertainment to let you decide whether you think we’d enjoy it. You know that awful song ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber? The one that goes

“And I was like baby, baby, baby oh
Like baby, baby, baby no
Like baby, baby, baby oh
I thought you’d always be mine

Yeah? Annoying little shitrat, isn’t he? But that’s by the by. The only person in the world now who doesn’t think Justin Bieber is a putrid bellend is himself. Anyway, imagine that song being sung live by two people but changed slightly to advertise the prize bingo, so it now becomes:

“It’s nearly time for bingo, bingo, bingo ooooh
Prize bingo, bingo, bingo oooooh
Prize bingo, bingo, bingo ooooh
Try out for a house or a liiiiiiiine”

I’ve genuinely never been closer to glassing myself. Paul had to pin my hands to the table so I didn’t try and ram a bingo dobber down my ear-drums. It was excruciating cheese. Through teeth so gritted you could strike a match off them, we stayed and endured twenty minutes more of the entertainment before finally getting to the bingo. The room fell silent as though someone had died on stage. I took a final gulp of the gassiest pint of Stella I’ve ever tried and had to suppress a burp as I didn’t fancy having my nose knocked through to the back of my head for causing a disturbance. Numbers were called, it was all super tense, but then someone shouted bingo and the tension was released in a sea of hissed ‘lucky bitch’ and ‘fucking sneaky c*nt’ – and mind this was just for a bloody line where you could win some tat from the gift shop. You know the folks you see on the People’s Postcode Lottery that I mentioned before, mooing on about winning whilst spittle and wind rattle through their badly-fitted dentures? This was them wrought large.

The battle to win a full-house proceeded but I can tell you now, even if I’d managed to get every single number on every single card including the prices for the beer on the table menu, I still wouldn’t have shouted house. There was no way the person who did shout house wasn’t going to be bundled into a giant wicker man on Berwick beach and set on fire. We didn’t even bother to stay to see which snaggletooth secured the ‘prize’ and instead, headed to the fish and chip shop to pick something up for dinner.

Christ, that was an experience. We ordered what I thought was a fairly simple order for a fish and chip shop to carry out – in that we ordered fish and chips – but we waited there almost twenty five minutes whilst they fussed about. It was the first day of opening, I understand, but I hadn’t factored in waiting for the potatoes to grow when I placed the order. At least Paul and I were able to entertain ourselves by admiring the very dishy security staff. I was tempted to push over a fruit machine in the vain hope of being pinned to the ground and ‘accidentally’ penetrated.

After waiting for ages, the fresh-faced young lad who had served us emerged with a full beard and handed over our dinner. All very nice, bar the curry sauce looked exactly like the holiday trots. I put that in the caravan bin so we were able to enjoy the smell for the rest of the holiday.

And so: to bed.


The recipe, then. I’m just going to give you the recipe for the lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb by itself – you can serve it with whatever you like but the next recipe I post will be for sunshine potatoes and a pea crush, so perhaps hold your lips together until then. If there’s only a couple of you I’d still make this recipe, as I have a recipe for leftover lamb coming down the line too. And look – it’s worth using the syns for this. A decent leg of lamb serves eight. The olive oil is 18 syns so technically that’s about 2 and a bit syns. Given most of the marinade ends up in the bottom of the serving dish and not on the meat, I’m going to syn this at 1 syn per serving (if the leg serves eight). Up to you how you do it! This needs prepping in advance – at least an overnight dish.

I found this recipe at compassandfork – click here for their website, it’s full of interesting dishes!

lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb

to make lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb you will need:

  • a big old leg of lamb – we bought ours from the butchers and I think it was about 1.8kg? It was a big bugger!
  • eight cloves of garlic – 6 minced (using one of these, oh it’s been so long since I was able to put a link in: a little mincer!) and two cut into slivers
  • 3 tbsp of fresh rosemary all chopped up, plus 4 small sprigs – don’t have fresh rosemary? Buy a plant and put it in the garden, it grows easily – but if not, dried will do
  • tablespoon of good salt
  • tablespoon of ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 big lemons

to make lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb you should:

  • unsheath your big slab of meat, you saucy bugger
  • make a marinade from the juice of the lemons, olive oil, salt, pepper, the chopped rosemary and the minced garlic
  • whisk it
  • whisk it real good
  • stab your lamb all over with a good sharp knife and push little slivers of garlic and rosemary into the slits
  • coat your lamb with the marinade – rub it in all over, really finger it
  • cover in tin foil and put it in the fridge – at least overnight, but even better you can wait 24 hours – I like to take it out and turn it over halfway through, spooning the marinade over
  • take it out two hours before you want to cook it to get it to room temperature
  • cook in a preheated oven (180 degrees) for about 1 hour and 45 minutes – check the lamb is cooked – this should give you medium cooked lamb, take it out sooner for rare
  • serve it with whatever you like but bloody enjoy it!

Looking for more meat recipes, you callous scoundrel? Click!

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Enjoy!

J

tasty low syn chubby gobstuffers – twochubbycubs

Chubby gobstuffers! You know sometimes when you want a good portion of meat but you can’t be arsed logging onto gaydar? Well, this will serve you well. Now: apologies if you’re not a fan of the holiday entries but our Year of 12 Holidays is thundering on and we need to catch-up! Just scroll to the bottom if you want the recipes for chubby gobstuffers without the flimflam!

If you’d told me that at some point this year I’d have not only bought a copy of The Sun but also stayed in a caravan without someone holding a gun to my mother’s head and threatening to pull the trigger, I’d have laughed my big jiggling boobs off. I’m not a snob by any means, but the idea of staying in a caravan has never exactly got me stiff. I think it’s because I spend so much of my time swearing angrily at the back of them whilst they dawdle at 40mph on the non-dualled parts of the A1 that it has coloured me against them for life. But regardless…

I’m going to open this holiday entry with a strong caveat – loads of people out there love caravanning. If you’re one of them, don’t get sand in your vag just because it didn’t look like it would be our cup of tea. Everyone has different tastes, remember! Also: the staff were amazing, each and all. Everyone was enthusiastic and cheerful and exactly the right sort of person you need working a holiday park.

That said, don’t expect any gushing panegyrics to caravan parks either.

I have ‘caravanned’ before. For a start, I learned to walk in a caravan: true fact. My parents had taken me and my sister away for a grey weekend by the sea when I was a mere tot and for good measure, had brought along my nana just to guarantee that the heating in the caravan would be turned up until it was hot enough to melt steel. Anyway, filled with an outrageous lack of safety and sensibility, they nipped out of the caravan, leaving me alone for I’m sure just a moment whilst they nicked off to get their Lambert and Butler fix. On their return they were shocked to see my little moon face appear at the window. To be fair, I’d only got up to turn the chip pan off. That photo, along with the one where I’m fast asleep half hanging out of bed with my arse on show, is the one that always gets wheeled out for cooing over.

Weirdly, in a fantastic bit of symmetry, I use a similarly posed for my Grindr profile. I’ve always had it in me, so to speak.

Only two other caravan memories – I once “enjoyed the company” (i.e. we needed somewhere private to rut) of a lad from school in a grotty wee caravan at the end of his garden. You know the sort of caravan – covered in bright green moss and usually the home of someone you see on the news for killing prostitutes. Anyway – how to put this delicately – I was legs akimbo and he was going at it like an enthusiastic spring-time buck when the entire sofa / bed / pounding-platform wrenched away from the sides of the caravan with an ear-splitting crash, leaving us in a sea of splintered wood, floral cushions and foist. I gamely suggested we finished the job there on the floor but it’s hard to get to vinegar-strokes when you have a ‘This cushion is fire retardant’ label slapping against your face. Bastards. That must be why I hate caravans, I was cock-blocked by one!

Oh and the final memory isn’t quite as gasp-worthy but it sticks in my mind. Back in the day I used to go away with a mate to his caravan in Montreuil-sur-Mer. It was great fun – loads of good food, good company and hair-raising drives where he would doze off at the wheel sending us skittering across the lanes at 90mph. Anyway, because we were poor and couldn’t afford to go out of an evening – and plus, Montreuil was hardly a city of sin and excitement – we used to sit outside the caravan in the evening getting stoned. This was fine for the most part until one night I took a bad turn and my poor mate had to spend two whole hours listening to me explaining the plot of each Bad Girls episode (I was a big fan) from season one through to season six whilst I tried desperately not to spin out.

Ha, speaking of Bad Girls, I thought I was the absolutely bees-knees because I was sent the preview tapes by someone who worked in TV and who wanted to get in my trousers. I knew what happened to poor Yvonne Shittin’ Atkins before anyone else! Sadly, the same guy turned out to be insane but hey, worth it.

SO. You can imagine my reaction when, as we were scoping out ideas for different holidays, Paul suggested we go caravanning. Attaching a caravan to the back of his Smart car was a non-starter – it would be like me trying to pull a cargo-ship through rough seas with my teeth – and there was no way I was putting a caravan on the back of my car and becoming ‘one of them’ (is impotence catching?), so we settled for a fixed caravan. But the prices – good lord! I didn’t want to spend hundreds of pounds for the joy of lying sweating in a mattress still wet from the previous occupants and so we were stuck.

Until, salvation: The Sun. Now you need to understand, I’m not a fan of anything they do, but ooh: cheap holiday. £9.50! A whole holiday for £9.50. Goodness me: my tight-arse Geordie heart fair swelled with joy. We dutifully ignored having to actually buy the paper and instead nipped online to get the tokens for free and then, one stormy night, whilst Paul slumbered beside me at 3am in the morning, I committed us to spending a whole weekend at a Haven caravan park in sunny Berwick. The moment I clicked submit Paul shuddered beside me, perhaps subconsciously aware of what I’d done.

Now, let’s clear one thing up. It isn’t £9.50 for a holiday. It’s £9.50 per person, per night. That still works out remarkably cheap, but we ended up paying almost £200 to stay, not least because we upgraded to the fanciest caravan they had. We were going to rough it but I mean, by the time you’ve paid for all the STI tests and crabs treatment afterwards, you break even. I was surprised to see an extra charge for the provision of bed sheets. Surely that is mandatory? They weren’t even fancy like our rubber, wipe-clean ones at home, for goodness sake. I paid it begrudgingly, worried that if I acquiesced to one charge, another two would pop up like moles in a garden. Perhaps they’d charge me for windows to let the air in, or set up a £1 per flush system in the toilet. How I long for the days when you click on the website and you get the exact price for something there and then, instead of all the hidden charges later on.

Anyway, like the inevitability of having to sleep in the wet patch after great sex, the holiday rolled around, and we beetled up to Berwick in Paul’s Smart car. Nothing really to report bar the usual motorway arseholes who think because their sales company has given them the cheapest low-end BMW in factory-finish white that it gives them the right to drive like a twat. I don’t get it. We had someone so far up our arse that I’ve probably got BMW on my prostate and for what? So he could get in front of us and be stuck behind the same tractor as we were only he’d be close enough to read the tyre pressure? Fucking moron. When he did overtake us – and then got stuck immediately in front of us – we took great delight in doing the ‘bet you’ve got a cock like a Wotsit’ little-finger-wiggle at him. I mean him no harm, but I can’t help but feel Earth would be a finer place if he’d spun off the road and turned his car into a tiny metal cube with him still in it.

Our arrival and check-in were smooth and professional – even the security guard on the front gate had a big smile and didn’t laugh as the Smart Car bounced over the speed bumps like a pea in a drum. Our caravan didn’t have a sea view but hey, I’m an optimist, I’m just glad it had a lockable door. We dumped our stuff, inexplicably forgot to take any photos (sorry!), tested out the bed and had a poo in the smallest toilet in the world. It was like being in an aeroplane toilet, only without the pool of piss and jizz around your feet. We had a cup of tea (having had the foresight to bring tea and milk with us – I took a gamble that they’d provide us with water for the kettle at least) and realised immediately that we had a problem.

Our smoke alarm was very intermittently beeping. No rhyme or reason. Just every now and then a little chirrup. Made to check the batteries but it had one of those ‘TAKE THIS OFF AND WE’LL CUT YOUR FACE’ stickers on it so we had to call reception, who dispatched a man to come and check it lickety-split. He spent ten minutes timing the beeps, looking angry and muttering, whilst we had to flit about making awkward small talk and trying not to get in his way. He seemed a bit ill-at-ease, perhaps he thought we were trying to engineer some swinging, but definitely not. I just wanted to be able to watch Tipping Point without getting tinnitus.

He eventually fixed the battery and, after a particularly sweaty bout of holiday shenanigans, we were dismayed to find that the only towel in the caravan was about the size of a postage stamp. Great if I wanted to dab daintily at my lips but I’ve got a lot of jiggling flesh to dry, I need a towel that takes two men to fold like a flag. Paul was dispatched to buy a set from Tesco (more expense) whilst I wandered about trying out each bed to see if there was one where my feet didn’t stick out of the bottom. There wasn’t. Once he returned we went exploring in the arcade and bar.

You know what struck me? The sheer amount of ways they can get money out of you. Fruit machines, skill machines, video games, expensive drinks, expensive food…goes without saying though. Also, I’ve never seen so many kids who look like tiny versions of their roided-up dads. You know the roided-up look? The ‘yes, you’re muscly, but everything looks like an inner tube about to go pop’? That, but in tiny Lee Cooper jeans. I’ve never seen so many people look like they’re about to punch a hole in the wall. Oh and I know it goes without saying but there were an awful amount of unnecessary double-barreled first names, including a right pair of horrors whose names sounded like flavours of fabric conditioner.

Now: I always waffle too much in our holiday entries, so I’m going to cut it at this point and crack on with the recipe! Chubby Gobstuffers. I wanted to call these chode-burgers but Paul said no. Poor sport!

Why chubby gobstuffers? Well, why not? Something has to fill that gob of yours, love.

to make the chubby gobstuffers you will need:

  • 4x 60g wholemeal hot dog buns (we used white buns because they photograph better, what are we like)
  • 500g lean beef mince (you’ll get all the mince you need and more in our special Musclefood deals – just click here!)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • quarter of an iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 10 gherkin slices
  • 4x 25g reduced fat sliced cheese (3.5 syns or roughly ½ HeA)
  • 2 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (2 syns)
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce (1 syn)
  • 2 tbsp american-style mustard (3 syns)
  • 4 bacon medallions, chopped (we cheekily used lardons because it was too late to go to the shop – YOU SHOULDN’T! – well, not unless you want Mags to be sticking her Poundland hair-clips into your car tyres)

to make chubby gobstuffers you should:

  • bring a medium pan of water to the boil
  • add the chopped onions, simmer for 30 seconds, drain, run under a cold tap and then set aside – this helps to reduce the ‘sharpness’ from them (it’s totally worth it – trust me)
  • mix the mince together in your hands (no need to add anything) and divide into four
  • roll into a ball and push down on the top until it makes a burger shape – it doesn’t have to be too neat
  • grill under a high heat until cooked to your liking, then add one cheese slice on top of each burger and pop under the grill again until melted, then remove and set aside
  • make the sauce by chopping two of the gherkin slices finely and adding to the mayonnaise and tomato sauce – mix well
  • heat a small frying pan over a high heat and cook the chopped bacon until crispy, then remove from the heat
  • place the hot dog buns under the grill (cut side up) to toast them off a little bit – they won’t need long – then remove
  • add a little lettuce to each of the buns, topped with the chopped onions, remaining gherkin slices and mustard
  • slice the burgers into 2/3 slices each and stuff into each of the buns
  • top again with the burger sauce and the bacon pieces

Still hungry? we’ve got even more recipes waiting to fill your hole! Just click the buttons below!

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Yum yum in your bum, right? Slut!

J

marmalade glazed chicken

Marmalade glazed chicken if you don’t mind! Yes, but first, GUFF. Scroll down quickly if you’re just here for the recipe, but why not indulge me for a moment and have a read of our final Paris entry?

Do you feel like you’re all tuckered out when it comes to our Paris entries? Me too! It feels like I’ve been writing about Paris for longer than we stayed there! Perhaps it is my tendency to waffle on, but hey, here we go. I promise this is the last one.

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

When you last slipped away from us we had emerged blinking into the sunlight after wafting the smells of sewers over the patrons of a pitch-black restaurant. God, you get sick of writing that sentence. Now, because we’ll here until year dot if I keep prattling on about every little thing I’m going to pick a few brief highlights did and then wrap this trip up!

Montparnasse Tower

Having neglected to do the Eiffel Tower this time around, we noticed on Tripadvisor that you could do something called the Montparnasse Tower instead – a massive skyscraper in the Montparnasse district of Paris. Who knew? After a leisurely breakfast which I spent blowing pastry crumbs around and drinking coffee as black as pitch, we made our way over.

TOP TIP: don’t bother with the Eiffel Tower. I mean, it’s lovely, of course, but this tower affords you the same excellent views and actually, given you can include the Eiffel Tower in your photographs, I’d say it was even better. Plus, as most people push themselves onto the Eiffel, this tower is pleasingly deserted. I barely had to push anyone out of the way to get to the front. I did kick someone smartly in the shin for stepping on my feet to take a photo, though. What am I like etc.

We took the stairs up to the rooftop to take some better pictures where I noticed, with considerable alarm, that we were in genuine danger of being blown away. The wind was immense – that would bode well for the flight later – and storm clouds were coming. There were glass safety barriers to prevent you plummeting to your death but they looked flimsy, bending as they were in the wind. I told Paul we had to go immediately. He seemed surprised and rightly so, normally I don’t have such an aversion to being sucked off in public, but here we are. We headed back downstairs to spend a merry five minutes looking at tat in the gift shop and spending far too much on coffee in the café, then took the lift back out.

In the two minutes that we were in the lift and lobby the storm clouds broke and sweet jesus, I’d have been drier jumping into a hot-tub. It wasn’t so much raining as drowning us slowly. We waddled as quick as our cankles allow and fell into the first restaurant that I remembered seeing reasonable reviews of on Tripadvisor earlier, Le Relais Gascon.

Le Relais Gascon

What a revelation. It doesn’t look fancy from the outside (nor do we) but it has plenty of nooks and crannies that are ripe for exploring (as do we). We took our table upstairs as we were in no doubt that the ground floor would soon be underwater and, remembering the comments I’d seen on the reviews, ordered a salad.

A salad! I know, but you mustn’t worry, we haven’t gone soft. This salad came with tonnes of bacon lardons, cheese, croutons and dressings, topped off with fried garlic potato slices. Normally a salad only gives me heart pains because I’m crying so hard with tedium as I choke it down, but this was just immense – and so cheap too. Easily our best meal of the holiday. When the waiter came round to ask if everything was OK I had to hold myself back from kissing his hand delicately and offering myself up. We paid the tiny bill, fashioned the tablecloth into a canoe and sailed off down the street in search of somewhere warm to sit.

Boy, did we find somewhere lovely.

Basilique du Sacré Coeur

Readers who have been following our misadventures for a while will know that whenever we need to sit and rest our throbbing feet, we find salvation in Jesus. Not because we’re believers, we’re not, but because a church is about the only place you can sit for a while panting and breathing deeply without someone moving you on. The church is immeasurably beautiful, both inside and out, although the experience was tainted a little by yet more people trying to sell you tat as you go in. Some rough old man in a long dress put a withered hand on my shoulder and tried to sell me a candle as I went in – it’s OK, I got the first punch in and sorted him out.

We spent an hour or so in here, looking at the stained glass windows, putting in a good word for my nana who I’m sure is up there somewhere in whatever world she believed in, thumbing through the bible and waiting for the storms to pass. Eventually it stopped raining and we were able to make an escape before I fell to my knees with boils and burns on my skin. As we left I got into a bit of proper argy-bargy with some oily little ratbag who wouldn’t let me buy my own funicular ticket and was insisting I paid him instead, to the point where he covered the coin slot on the machine with his hands.

Luckily, for once, my size was on my side. I pushed him and he went stumbling away like a leaf on the breeze. I’m not one for physical interaction but he was the size of an ankle sock and looked about as intimidating as a wet tissue. I think the fact that between us Paul and I could have sat on him and reduced him to a diamond probably sealed the deal. I waited for the small crowd of people to slap me on my back or offer me drinks / drugs / sex as a thank you but nothing was forthcoming. Don’t care. Still played Eye of the Tiger as I strutted onto that funicular.

Le Bear’s Den

We don’t tend to stray into gay bars as a rule – not a huge fun of the audible wince that swooshes around the place as we walk in with anything less than a 28″ waist trouser, for one thing. I once got into a fight with a very angry lesbian in one of Newcastle’s finest rainbow bars for turning the jukebox off after the eighth rendition of Left Outside Alone by Anastacia and Paul was told he should die for having the temerity of wearing his nurse’s shirt (as in the shirt he wore when he was a nurse, not a shirt belonging to his nurse – he’s not quite that bad yet) and having his gunt on show. There can be a waspishness that neither of us are particularly keen on and so we usually stay away.

But that said, how could we walk past a bar called The Bear’s Den and not poke our heads through the door? What are we if not trainee bears? In fact, now I’m 32, I think in gay terms I actually am a bear. I’ve certainly got enough chequered Jacamo shirts to dress as one. Haven’t a clue what the fuck I’m on about? In the gay world, an older fat hairy bloke is colloquially known as a bear. A young fat hairy bloke is a cub. A young skinny hairy bloke is an otter. A hairy older bloke with white/grey hair is a polar bear, would you believe. God knows where it originates from but I’ve always found the naming convention dainty so let’s stick with it. I’ll check the Homo Guidebook when I get home to find out what age we are supposed to transition. Anyway, I digress.

We stayed for a good couple of hours, drinking beer (or in my case, one beer and then endless lemonade as I’d later be driving) and being eyed up by the barman. I like to think so anyway, he was very kind and seemed keen to show us downstairs, which, from our vantage point upstairs, looked ill-lit and heavy with sweat and amyl-nitrate. I dilated every time someone came up the stairs and disturbed the fetid air. We demurred and carried on drinking, and yes, it was all very lovely to be amongst those who weren’t looking down their noses at the fact we didn’t look like Skeleton from SuperTed.

(I’m being slightly facetious).

Oh, and it was full of artwork like this, which I loved so much I rashly made to buy an A2 canvas before Paul pointed out I’d struggle to get that into our cabin bag. Boo.

If anyone fancies making me one though, go for it! As we left, we spotted a sex shop just over the road so we had a quick gander to see what was happening. As usual, the sight of rubber cocks the size of fire extinguishers brought out our silly side and we spent a good fifteen minutes shrieking and bellowing our way around the porn DVDs. There was one of those wank-booths at the back which was occupied and I feel so bad for the poor Parisian trying to rub one out whilst some hurly-burly Geordie is shouting ‘WAY YE CUD HAMMER A FUCKIN’ NAIL IN WITH THIS BASTARD’ across the shop. Tsk.

I did, however, spot this.

A friggin’ porn DVD about accountancy! I’m sorry, but who on earth has a sudden rush of blood to the head when thinking about tax? Apparently enough to hire two rent-a-gobs with spray-on beards to make a porno! I did appreciate the pun in the title though. It amazes me the niche things people are into. I asked, but they had nothing on Senior Administrative Nurses and we were asked to leave.

Flight home

We spent altogether too long drinking at Le Bear’s Den that we had to abandon our plans to take the train back to the airport and instead hurl ourselves into an Uber, who, after picking up our luggage from the hotel, drove us straight to the airport with minimal fuss and delay. We had wildly underestimated how long it would take though and we were both absolutely bursting for a slash – the last ten miles or so felt like pure agony as eighteen litres of fizziness threatened to burst from our willies like a dam relief valve.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare on the clock but no time at all on our bladders – we dashed so quickly out of the car that the driver must have only heard ‘thanksmuchbyeeeneedpiss‘ as we hurtled out. In our haste to micturate we went dashing straight into the airport, only for him to come hurtling after us with our suitcase. Oops. I said thank you just as quick as we could and we fair sprinted for the lavatory, thankfully finding one only moments into the terminal. Even now people in Dover talk of the loud ‘aaaaaaah THANK FUCK FOR THAT’ they heard bellowing across the channel as I let go. There’s genuinely no better feeling (bar the obvious) than making it to a loo just as your bladder is about to rip open like a faulty condom.

Now, normally, we’d dick about in the airport before going through security and standing at the gate for hours, but something told us we’d better clear security just as fast as we could, perhaps given the terrible experience coming in. As it happens, we were scanned, sorted and sent on our way in a matter of moments. Great! More time for drinks and shenanigans airside. We rounded a corner only to see a small queue just disappearing around a corner. Being British and thus attracted to queues the same way as a bee is attracted to a golden flower, we joined it. It was moving ever so slowly but hey, it must be good if everyone else was waiting. No, of course not – it was the bloody passport check, and, with all the typical efficiency and customer care I’d come to expect from the French security administration, there was one surly looking arse checking everyone’s passports. I say checking them, he was taking so long with each person that I wondered whether he was drawing a watercolour of each person as a souvenier. There must have been easily 300 people in front of us and another 100 behind and each person was tutting so much it was like being inside a maraca. It was all we could do to wait – and that we did, because we weren’t seen for almost ninety minutes. When he did get to me and he glanced at my face with bile-filled eyes, I had to resist the urge to quip that the wait had aged me terribly. He took even longer with Paul, almost a minute of looking down at the passport and then up at Paul’s face. I can only imagine it was because Paul had a faint smile on his passport photo and this guy was unfamiliar with the concept.

As an aside, if you were the rough, pink-leggings-yellow-teeth (the Fruit Salad look) (imagine looking at a negative photo of Pete Burns), shouting harridan woman who was scolding a poor passing easyJet stewardess about how it ‘WEREN’T FACKIN’ RIGHT MAKING US FACKIN’ WAIT LIKE THIS’ whilst your ruffian children ran screaming around everyone’s legs, I hope you’re ashamed of yourself. You represent the worst of British humanity. Everyone knows that, faced with a long snaking queue, you join it silently and spend however long it takes deep-sighing into the neck of the chap in front of you. Witch.

With no time to spare we were shepherded to our gate where we joined the rest of the sourpusses waiting to join the Edinburgh flight. We had speedy boarding due to being in the exit seats (otherwise, I think it’s a pointless swizz, you’re getting on the plane at some point whether you get on first or the pilot gives you a fireman’s lift up the stairs at the end) and sat in the special bit reserved for those who want to look smugly at everyone else. After a short delay due to the weather we were released and everyone hurtled downstairs onto the bus. Awkwardly, they’d actually roped off a section of the bus for speedy boarders meaning that 9 out of 10 of the passengers were crammed in like sardines whereas Paul and I were sat with our legs spread out. We had enough room to hold a boxing match if we wanted to. I turned to gaze out of the window (mainly to avoid their icy stares) and watched with some consternation as trees were almost bent double and the windsocks were almost tearing away. The bus driver must have thought he was taking us to the plane via Cannes because we sat on that bus driving around for a good half hour. I was surprised he didn’t stop halfway at whatever the French equivalent of BP to let us go for a piss. We made it to our flight – now almost 90 minutes later – boarded and relaxed. Well, everyone else did, I was too busy staring stricken at the window as I envisioned the wind blowing us straight into the Eiffel Tower.

The steward came on the radio, which you’d think would make it slippery to hold, and informed us that the fasten seatbelts sign would stay on for considerably longer than usual as we were expecting a bumpy take-off. He wasn’t wrong. Flying always amazes me but flying in bad weather is just something else – I’ve never felt a plane be buffeted about by the wind so much before. The plane’s back-end was swishing left and right like it was doing a big metallic mince into the sky, perhaps it knew we were on board. After twenty minutes of envisioning my own death in a thousand different ways (an engine tearing through my head, choking on the inflight magazine, the oxygen above my head bursting in flame…) we levelled out and everything calmed down. I told Paul that I ought to have a gin ‘for my nerves’ and he agreed, his face the colour of an aged candle. It was a very quiet, calm trip home. After a quick flounce through security and a stop to buy some altogether non-traditional Haribo for work colleagues we were on our way home, me driving once more because Paul forgot his glasses. This must have been weighing heavy on his mind because he promptly fell asleep for the entire 120 mile journey back, leaving me to do all the driving alone. It’s OK, I managed to get a few minutes shut-eye on a straight bit of the A1.

We arrived home, exhausted, 1am in the morning. Our cats did the usual – glanced at us like we’d killed their mothers and stalked off with their tails in full ‘oh go fuck yourself’ pose. Just once I’d like them to hurtle into my arms like a dog, mewing and clicking and purring, but no. One cat caved an hour later though, demanding to be allowed to sleep between us for warmth. They love us really.

And that was France! I know it’s taken us ages to get to the end of the holiday (I kid you not, we’ve had two more holidays since I started writing this) but here we are. Holiday number one complete!

Fancy following in our footsteps? I wouldn’t, they’re sunk half a metre into the ground because we’re so fat, but if you’re determined:

Flights: Edinburgh to Paris Charles de Gaulle with easyJet – quick, cheap flight but the usual excellent customer service they always deliver
Hotel: ibis Budget (near Edinburgh Airport) – absolutely fine for an overnight stay and super-cheap and Hotel Square in Paris on the Rue du Boulainvilliers – amazing, stylish and warm hotel. Expensive, but excellent location and amenities. The receptionist had the good grace not to raise her eyebrows at our extortionate room service bill.

Fin.


Right, shall we get to the recipe then? It’s a cheek to call this a recipe given it takes no time at all to make, but it’s absolutely worth the couple of syns for a quick and easy dinner.

to make marmalade glazed chicken you will need:

to make marmalade glazed chicken you should:

  • place the chicken breasts on a chopping board and bash gently(ish) with a rolling pin to flatten them out – you want them at about half the thickness they were originally
  • heat a large frying pan to medium-high and add a bit of oil
  • place the chicken breasts in the pan and allow to cook for five minutes – no need to touch them, just let them cook
  • meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl mix together the chilli flakes, dijon mustard and marmalade
  • heat for fifteen seconds in the microwave, stir, and microwave for another 15 seconds. stir again
  • turn the chicken breasts over and spoon over the glaze
  • cook for two minutes
  • make sure your chicken is cooked through and serve with salad

How easy was that? For more chicken ideas, take a look at the buttons below!

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Until we meet again…

J

quick and simple tomato and rice soup

Tomato and rice soup: yes, it might not make you open up like a freshly steamed mussel through excitement, but by god it’ll serve you well if you’re after a quick and easy dinner. Plus this recipe makes enough for six bowls. So don’t be disappointed by a soup recipe and instead give it a go!

You know what is disappointing? We had plans this morning to get up early and switch all the branding on the site away from SW and over to Herbalife. We planned to have photos of us looking flabbergasted by their miracle products and a wee video introducing ourselves as Herbalife’s Number ONE Sellers. But then, with all the dilatoriness you’ve come to expect from your favourite Northern fat bastards, we slept in. I like to think you lot know there’s more chance of me eschewing cock for life and becoming a full vagitarian than there is us becoming MLM salesfuckers, so it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway.

Anyway, life played a little April fool trick on me – I thought I’d published the next blog entry in the middle of the week and have been sulking because I received no comments on it, only to find this morning that it hasn’t appeared and for good measure, has completely disappeared. Great! Imagine my pleasure! I’ll rattle it out again – I’ve got two hours before Paul finally stops snoring like a shot elephant and gets himself up and out of bed to have a pop at me for not waking him up. Wiring him to the mains wouldn’t wake him up, but that’s entirely beside the point. Let’s slip back to France then, and, because I’ve got a stack of holidays to write up, it’s the penultimate part…

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

Now, when you last joined us, we were retiring to bed full of liquor and the French night air. We’d enjoyed a full day of gallivanting and drinking and our heads were a little tender in the morning. I showered, somewhat gingerly, barely keeping down yesterday’s Castrol cocktail. I was doing well until I dropped the sponge and bent over to pick it up. Honestly, you’ve never lived until you’ve caught a haunting glimpse of your own bumhole reflected back at you from all conceivable angles thanks to an entirely mirrored bathroom – it felt like I’d fallen into the Sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi. I stumbled out, gagging, only to be met with Paul’s beaming face.

What activity had he managed to find for us whilst I was being Crying-Gaming in the shower? What would really invigorate my dulled senses and quell that nauseous feeling in my belly? Ah yes: a trip into the sewers of Paris. Don’t get me wrong – I love learning about infrastructure and finding out how a city runs, but goodness me: my hanging head combined with my submechanophobia did not make me especially keen. Paul pressed the issue though and I just can’t say no to his eager moon face. (Could you? If it was me, could you do it?)

Submechanophobia? Yes: it’s a real thing! I’m creeped out by machinery underwater, anything man-made. I’m not one of these roaring idiots who scream and shout, I can crack on with it, but the idea of submerged pipes and drains and dams just give me the willies, and not in the conventional excellent way. Blame my dad: we grew up surrounded by wells and culverts and reservoirs and weirs and to keep us away from them he would tell lurid tales of people being sucked into pipes and drowned in weirs. Worked for me, though I was brave enough to approach a well when I threw my sister’s Culture Club CDs down there because she wouldn’t stop playing Karma Chameleon. Perhaps I need to convince you why underwater pipes are scary…take a look at this:

See? Not just me being a drama queen!

The entrance to the sewers was a mere 30 minute walk away, and, needing some fresh air and a good crêpe (thanks to the surprisingly hairy guys at Iolando at the Quai Branly for their ham and cheese special) (why does everything I write sound like a sexy Craigslist advert?) we ambled out.

 

I took a picture of the Statue of Liberty and sent it over to El Ehma, a friend from work, and told her we’d been diverted to New York. Naturally, she believed us, although there’s very little sport in getting her to believe anything, because she’s so sweet and trusting. I could tell her they’ve outlawed breathing and her lips would turn blue before her mind turned over. Although, mind, she still wins on the pranks stakes for getting me to call the Mr Kipling factory and ask to speak to the boss himself. Pfft.

We arrived at the Musée des Égouts de Paris in good time, despite having to stop for another fifteen minutes whilst Paul availed himself of the nearby automatic toilet facilities again. He at least had the humour to come out and cry that he had ‘sent a fresh one into the sewers’ and that we ought to keep an eye out for it. If only I’d known, I would have told him to stick a flag in it like they do with fancy burgers. I took the opportunity to find a geocache whilst Paul left his mark and I had no trouble at all locating geocache GC2MJDY.

I signed the log just as Paul bid goodbye to his own, and we were on our way.

We paid a very modest fee to the chap sitting in the booth in the middle of the street and descended the stairs into the sewers.

Well, fuck me. I know this is going to be blindingly obvious because it’s a sewer but the smell. I, having not done any research beforehand, expected a sanitised little museum with lots of charming photos and info boards. None of that. It’s literally the sewer with a river of Paris’ finest stools, piss, toilet roll and condoms floating by like the world’s worst episode of The Generation Game. You know that feeling when you go for a poo and someone’s used the cubicle before you and you walk into a mist of shitgas, knocking you back? Imagine that, but multiplied by 10.

You can almost smell it.

That said, it only took five minutes for the tissue inside my nose to necrotise and then we were good to go. And, do you know, it was really bloody interesting! We walked away from the tour guide, not least because he was bellowing in French and I couldn’t understand what he was going on about – lots of murder, apparently – and we explored for ourselves. This isn’t somewhere to take the kids – lots of creepy machinery, open running water, shit all over the place (though you were never touching it). I felt like Thénardier and almost burst into song, although the effect would have been lost over the sound of effluence farting and sloshing about.

Mind, it was good to see Enya doing her bit for faecal disposal.

Two interesting facts for you, though. The sewers of Paris all have charming little street signs on that mirror the roads above so, in theory, you could cheerfully make your way from one side of the city to the other underground, dealing with logs and detritus rather than tourists and looky-looky-men. I’m genuinely not sure which I’d prefer. Secondly, they have a surprisingly old-fashioned way of cleaning their sewers – they use a big black ball almost exactly the same width as the tunnel and send it on its merry way, pushed along by the water building up behind it and sloughing all the stank from the walls of the sewer. They ought to call the ball ‘Scan Bran’, given they do exactly the same thing. I posed for a comedy photo bending over in front of the giant black ball and was roundly tutted at by the tour group which had caught up with us. Ah well.

I’ve hidden the quote for this photo in white text because honestly, I’m ashamed to put it. The caption is: “The view from 10″ into my rectum, if I’m lucky”

I know I’m awful.

Fancy a wander?

We made our way to the exit and Paul looked at his watch with concern. Zut alors! We had a lunch reservation over the other side of the river and we’d never be able to make it, so into another Uber we went. Here’s the thing: we hadn’t quite thought out our day, because going straight to lunch in a nice restaurant after spending an hour floating about in an active sewer probably doesn’t make a nice experience for anyone near us. You know what makes it worse? We were eating here:

Yep – a restaurant entirely in the dark. What happens when you can’t see? Your other senses increase in power. I’m not sure what the French is for ‘goodness, has someone just shat in the bread basket‘ and I don’t want to know. We did try to hurriedly daub ourselves in Tom Ford but meh, there’s only so much you can do, right?

Let me explain how this works – you go in and you’re not given a menu, but rather, you have a chat with the hostess about the types of food you like (meat), what you dislike (fish), what you’re allergic to (pineapple) and what drinks you want. The chef then builds your meals to suit your tastes but you do not know what you’re going to get. It’s then time to eat – your waiter (who is completely blind) comes to get you, you form a human conga chain and into the pitch black you go. You are led to your table and told where your glass is, where your plate is, your cutlery, all at times on a clock – so the wine is at your ten o’clock, forks at 4, and so on. It is an amazingly bewildering experience – at once disorientating and exciting. There’s not a speck of light to be seen – no fire exit signs, no mobiles lighting up (you have to leave those in a locker) – all you have to look at is the colourful swirls that your eyes mark as they try and adjust.

It’s amazing how quick you get used to it though. I was drinking a cocktail and buttering bread like an old hand and everything was going smashing until a voice seemingly inside my ear told me my starter had arrived. I was a moment away from an especially ladylike shriek. Our starters were placed in front of us – an apple, goat cheese and beetroot salad – and we gamely set about trying to eat. Paul gave up trying to use his cutlery after about a minute and just used his fingers like the Peterborian sloth that he is. I pressed on, although it took me four minutes before I realised I was holding my fork the wrong way and all the food was simply tumbling away from me.

As we stumbled our way through our starter the restuarant began to fill up – a relief if only to provide some background noise. When you can’t see and there’s hardly any sound, you start to wonder if you’re simply on a prank TV show and the walls are going to fall down, revealing yourself with beetroot all over your face to a clapping audience. Two lovely Irish ladies joined our corner table and were kind enough not to mention the stench. We don’t normally like to talk whilst we eat because we’re fat and frightened we’ll miss something but actually, the lack of lighting removed any social anxieties and we chatted away like old friends. It was brilliant fun! The dessert was gingerbread pudding and ice cream, although by the time I’d managed to chase my ice-cream around the plate and onto the fork it was merely warm cream.

I took a picture of our dinner so you can see what you get:

The time came to leave, with our waiter gently touching us on the shoulder and unusually not adding, ‘please, Sir, leave some for the others’. I’m not used to such hospitality! We stood up to leave and I became acutely aware of a problem – we’d been put into a corner which was fine when the restuarant was empty, but leaving required squeezing past people in the dark and moving furniture. How embarrassing. Simply leaving the place became a dramatic affair – I shunted someone into their starter, the waiter collided with a table edge that he wasn’t expecting to ‘be there’ and I think Paul might have accidentally impregnated someone. There was a lot of grunting, dissatisfied sighing and profuse apologising, rather like my college years.

Before we left we were shown what we had actually been given and it was genuinely surprising – I was so sure, for example, that I’d had apple pie, but no, it was gingerbread. Paul thought he’d had steak but it had been lamb. I thought I’d received a handjob but it turned out it was just the waiter straightening out the napkin on my lap.

We would heartily recommend.

Now, I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma here. I could prattle on for another 1000 words or so about what we did next, or I could get to the tomato and rice soup and wrap up Paris with one last entry. You know, because I envisage you sat at home yawning your way through the posts, I’ll do exactly that. I know you ladies like length but what’s length without something tasty at the end of it? Let’s get to the soup.

to make tomato and rice soup, you’ll need:

  • one lovely large white onion, roughly chopped
  • three celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 small carrots, chopped (try and cut everything the same size – nice small chunks)
  • good salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of chilli flakes (leave it out if you’ve got a sensitive nipsy)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1.5 litres (yes, that’s right) of good chicken or vegetable stock
  • 150g of brown rice (white is fine if you only have that, we used arborio rice)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100g of spinach leaves

Optional: if you’ve got a proper Parmesan with a hard rind, feel free to cut off the rind and chuck it in whilst everything simmers. You’ll fish it out after, but it just imparts a nice creaminess to the soup. Also, if you can’t be arsed chopping veg, you can make this so much quicker by buying a bag of soffritto from Waitrose – it’s a quid and consists of perfectly chopped onion, celery and carrots. Lifesaver! Also good if you’re a clumsy bugger like me when it comes to chopping.

to make tomato and rice soup, you should:

  • with a few sprays of oil (half a syn, divide between six if you’re that arse) slowly sweat off your carrot, onion and celery until they soften
  • season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes
  • add the stock, puree, Worcestershire sauce, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and rice
  • leave to simmer for about 30 minutes – you want the rice softened and some of the liquid bubbled off
  • chuck in your rind if you’re using it whilst it simmers
  • you can leave it to bubble for longer if you like a thicker soup
  • when ready to serve, remove the rind and bay leaves, stir in the spinach and enjoy!

You might be thinking you ought to stop there and not bother with the breadcrumbs, but please: spend a syn or two and make them. It takes no time at all, they keep well in the fridge and they just add a little extra into the soup. Why not make your dinners the very best they can be?

to make basil, garlic and cheese breadcrumbs, you’ll need:

to make basil, garlic and cheese breadcrumbs, you should:

  • blitz together everything above into a fine sand
  • put on an oven tray and cook in the oven on a medium heat until they’re nice and toasty
  • sprinkle onto your soup!

If you don’t want to dick about getting your food processor out, and who would, you could just use the tiny wee chopper that we occasionally dig out for this purpose! You don’t need to spend money on anything expensive, this will do the job nicely!

Phew!

Want more recipes? Vegetarian? Soup? Click and enjoy!

vegetariansmall    slowcookersmalltastersmallsoupsmall

J

caprese sausage stuffed pasta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

click here for part one 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


caprese sausage stuffed pasta caprese sausage stuffed pasta

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you will need:

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

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

to make caprese sausage stuffed pasta you should:

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

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

porksmallfakeawayssmall pastasmall sausagessmall   onepot

J

half a syn black pepper steak stir fry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The glamour!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

to make black pepper steak stir fry you will need:

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

for the marinade

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

for the sauce

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

for the stir fry

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

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

to make black pepper beef stir fry you should:

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

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

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

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Enjoy!

J

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