a proper old fashioned trifle – two ways to syn!

We had to make this – we’ve seen someone passing off a frozen yoghurt with crushed berries on the top as a ‘traditional trifle’. That’s about as much of a traditional trifle as I am confident around a fusebox / football discussion / vagina. Sometimes it feels like we’re screaming into the wind trying to encourage people to eat proper food, but nevertheless, here’s a rare beast: a twochubbycubs desserts. Yes, it has syns, but it’s easy to make, tasty and you know, proper food. Before we get there, two things:

  • wouldn’t normally stick an advert here but Amazon have a proper cracking deal on Morphy Richards soup-makers at the moment, including this £100 model down to £40. If you’re looking for one, now is the time to get it! Prices correct at the time of writing (18 March). Click for that – it’ll open in a new window!
  • and – this is also a holiday entry – boo – so if you’re here just for the food, click the button below and head straight there!

Yeah that’s right. Moany bag! Let’s do it.


 

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

The last time you left us we were getting pulled off by the police. In my imagination, because the officer looked like Javert’s lumberjack brother. I almost certainly would yield when we came face to face. BOOM: culture/anal reference right off the bat! We went to bed shortly afterwards (unaccompanied, sadly) and awoke the next day as fresh as a daisy. We ordered breakfast: croissant, coffee and amyl nitrates to bring me back round when they put the bill down, then off we went. For the sake of your eyes, we’re going to wrap up the two days left in Stockholm in one concise entry.

Museums

We spent the morning wandering about the Vasa Museum (a museum about a famous Swedish warship which was the best of its time, until it sank six minutes into its maiden voyage), the Nordiska Museet (a museum of Swedish history) and the Fotografiska, an art gallery. You know where we stand of those: usually eight steps away from the exit, moving swiftly. Don’t get me wrong, there were some interesting pieces to look at – there was a great exhibition of x-rays to gaze at and diagnose myself with (I knew my uterus was hurting, I just didn’t know why) and it gave me an always-welcome opportunity to stare disdainfully at people whose legs were thinner than my wrists and shoes more expensive than my car. Why do so many art aficionados always look so brittle? You’re not living in squalor in the Bohemian bedsits of 19th century Paris, love, have yourself a sandwich and fuck off.

We did find something a bit vag-esque outside though. Hence the faces. Also, Paul perfecting his Jayda Fransen face. Only, he’s not banned from Facebook, unlike that vile racist shitbit. Mahaha!

The Nordiska Museet was slightly more entertaining, not least because a lot of the exhibitions had buttons to press and TVs to gawp slack-jawed at in that uncultured fashion of ours. We know what we are. There was an exciting moment when Paul attempted to crawl through a small door made for a child only for his arse to catch on the frame of the door and wrench a good portion of it away. We made our excuses and left, with no-one around to witness our embarrassment.

The Nordiska Museet

We did get a chance to dress up, mind, and I think we can all agree that I make a Santa that you’d happily allow to empty his sack onto your best duvet cover, no?

See? And look, Paul makes a sexy secretary elf!

You’ve never been wetter, have you?

Speaking of wetness, the Vasa Museum was an absolute bust. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing that they managed to salvage and restore the boat, and it looks mightily impressive in the grand hall, but…OK, deep breath now…sigh…

…if I wanted to see an old, creaking wreck that resulted in the death of an immeasurable amount of seamen, one that was barely held together and had succumbed terribly to the harsh ravages of time, something that just didn’t work and was 95% rust and rot, something that appears preserved in time but smells of foist and rot…you’ve guessed it…

I’d go see Paul’s mother! Eh? You having that? Hello?

Eee she’s lovely really, you know, and I give her some awful stick on here – she was absolutely cracking as Zelda in Terrahawks, too.

After paying polite respects, we left.

Subway stations

You may laugh, but we spent the next three hours tootling about on the subway system taking pictures of the stations. Partly because we needed to rest our cankles but also because Stockholm’s subway stations are awash with art – some painted in very dramatic fashion, some stations themed, some looking like the entrance to Hell. It was terrific: cheap, fun and, rather unlike the Tyne and Wear Metro, we weren’t asked for a tab, money or used as a soft spot to rest a carving knife. It makes me realise that, as much as I love the UK, we could do everything so much better by spending a bit of money to make things a little less shit. The artwork on our Metro extends to some toerag writing INCH everywhere and PUT ARE CUNTRY FURST stickers left by spittle-lipped wankers. Stations, bar for a couple in the centre of Newcastle, are grey and dingy and threatening. Luckily, the Metro only runs for 5% of the time before being cancelled, so you get plenty of time to appreciate the squalor. Here’s three of our favourite Stockholm shots, and if you’re wanting to try it yourself, here’s a very handy guide to the best stations!

Fun fact: this is the exact same viewpoint as one of my sperm.

N3rdsbar

Cruising over, my phone suggested that we were near to a place called N3rdsbar – a videogame themed bar full of vintage games consoles you could actually play, Nintendo artwork and a toilet full of retro instruction manuals. Paul thought I had the shits when actually I was just finally figuring out how to get past Grimace’s Highlands in MC Kids. Anyone who disagrees with me that MC Kids was one of the best NES games out there can go burn in a fire.

Silly me, that’s not how you spell Count!

I’ve never felt more masculine in my life.

It was fantastic – they even had a full range of videogame themed cocktails, including a ladder of multi-coloured shots called Rainbow Road. Imbued with nostalgia and more than a little pissed, we put our card behind the bar and settled down for a game of Mario Party 2 on the N64, signalling for more drinks and shots and beer and wine and burgers whilst making the absolutely fatal error of not asking the prices and forgetting we were in Stockholm, where you get charged forty quid just to wipe your arse after a plop.

£310 later…

Yep. Not our proudest moment. A brilliant night though, only tempered with what happened next – we were just deciding what to do when my phone flashed up with a text from our lovely neighbours who look after our house – emergency! That’s all it said, with a short message asking me to give them a call. Naturally I start catastrophising – clearly the cat had been run over, or had somehow worked out how to get the chip pan out and start a fire. Perhaps we had been burgled – the thought of some rough scally running his fingers around in my underwear drawer usually gives me pause but not when I’m on holiday – but no, no notifications from our Nest alarm. I tried to call back but in my heavily drunken state couldn’t remember how to dial internationally, or indeed, how to form words consisting of more than strings of vowels and slurred Ss. When I eventually got through I was inconsolable and speaking gibberish (I was worried and drunk, be fair!) – my poor neighbour, it must have been like the calls Bryan McFadden still gets from Kerry Katona when there’s been a 25% discount at Oddbins. Eventually it transpired that our outdoor tap had burst in the cold and was spraying water everywhere, necessitating a quick call to my dad to establish what a stopcock was (do I look like someone who has ever said that word?) and then a second call to the previous owners of the house to find out where the stopcock was, then a third back to our neighbours who were dispatched to turn off the stopcock in our bathroom. The thought that Paul might have left a skidmark on the toilet before we flew to Stockholm that had been sitting baking for four days was enough to sober my mind and it was with that image that we decided to cut short our night out and head back to the hotel – we were flying to Oslo in the morning anyway, so perhaps a clear mind for international travelling would be wise.

As a side-note, we really do have excellent neighbours – well, the ones that look after our house, anyway. They’re like surrogate grandparents – I don’t think I’ve ever met a more cheerful woman and her husband keeps me in vegetables and stories. There’s still a few living near us who don’t speak to us even when we speak to them, but you can imagine how little that concerns me. Ignorance wears tan corduroy. Five years we’ve lived here and never been so much as a bother – we even employ a gardener just to keep our lawns short even though frankly, I couldn’t give a monkey’s jot what our garden looks like. Anyway…

We did, however, stop for hot-dogs on the way home.

I genuinely can’t remember the last time Paul looked at me like that.

Still, we were home in good enough time…

Night night!

We awoke the next day to absolutely wild weather – a proper winter storm. It was amazing – certainly puts our Beast from the East into keen perspective – it was like stepping into an untuned television. Would we get away to Norway? Were the trains running? Of course. Indeed, our fretting about whether or not we would be able to even get to Oslo in light of the heavy snow, blowing winds and freezing temperatures were relieved as soon as we got to Stockholm Airport and saw that not a single plane was showing as delayed. Very much business as normal. Now I’m not daft – I know that their infrastructure is designed to cope with harsh weather and ours isn’t, and I’m not going to be one of those curmudgeons who goes on about how we can’t handle snow…

…but at the same time, Newcastle Airport shuts up shop if someone so much as sneezes in Durham. Why? It was snowing that hard in Stockholm that we had to take a husky-ride with Santa just to get to the plane – which made a refreshing change from being packed into a tiny sweaty bus with two hundred other people, chewing your way through someone else’s armpit hair as you careen around the runway. Everywhere you looked there were bearded blokes in hi-vis jackets throwing snow about and bellowing at each other in some mysterious language. It was like an LSD-infused wet-dream for the both of us, and we almost missed our flight, so taken were we with the view from the window. We boarded with about three minutes to spare, with the Chief Flight Attendant giving us a look that would have emptied a lion’s cage. I gave her my best ‘but we’re British’ smile but she was having none of us, and ushered us to sit down.

Hejdå Sverige

Our plane – Norwegian Air – was clean, spotless and, more excitingly, came with free Wifi. I had managed to forget to download anything interesting to my phone and the thought of having to make polite conversation with Paul for an hour filled me with dread. I’m sure he felt the same. Paul’s role on the plane is to occasionally order me drinks and smile indulgently when I pick at his sleeve and ask him whether he thinks the chimes from the stewardesses means the cockpit is on fire or whether we’re making an unscheduled, atomised stop in Uzbekistan. The poor bugger spends so much time taking out his earphones and putting them back that his Radio 4 podcast sounds like the poshest dubstep ever. The flight was wonderfully smooth and we were descending into Oslo in no time at all. Quite literally: we seemed to go from about 33,000ft to being on the runway in the time it took me to put away my Camembert-ripe feet and do up my laces. Even the stewardess seemed surprised – she barely had time to finish her shave.

We were through security with all the brisk efficiency you expect from the Norwegian, and, one short train trip later, we were at our hotel. That’s an excellent place to leave not only our luggage but also this post – until we meet again…

…as an aside, what an absolute joy it was to jump countries: from hotel to hotel took us less than five hours, including the flight. If you’re looking at a Scandinavian trip, we heartily recommend Norwegian for internal flights – without luggage (we travel light) the flights were about £30 each and there’s a flight every hour. Can’t get vexed!

Seems like a good place to leave it!

REMEMBER FOLKS: we love feedback on the holiday entries! It makes my day! So please do leave a comment to gee us along!

previousArtboard 1


Right, the trifle then! We’ll give you two options here – the proper way and the lower syn route. We recommend the proper route – it’s tastier – but if you must, you can make some swaps for a lower-syn end result. But…

slimming world trifle

slimming world trifle

a proper slimming world trifle

Prep

Inactive

Total

Yield two bowls

If you're looking for something sweet at the end of a meal, have a Polo. But if you're still itching for dessert, make one of these dead easy trifles! Still well within your syns limit, they make a nice change from shattering your teeth on frozen yoghurts or trying to pretend your 'sponge cake' tastes of anything other than sweaty hot arse.

This makes two big bowls or, if you're fancy, serve them in a nice glass like we did.

Ingredients

Proper route:

  • a bag of frozen raspberries
  • two Tesco trifle sponges (7 syns)
  • one sachet of Hartley's sugar free jelly - we used raspberry (1.5 syns)
  • six tablespoons of light squirty cream (1 syn)
  • 200g proper custard (light) - (7 syns)
  • 10g of hundreds and thousands (2 syns)

That's a total of 18.5 syns - so for each trifle, just over nine syns. But it makes a big, proper dessert. Worth it!

But if you're worried about syns, you can drop it by either:

  • leaving out the sponge and replacing it with more fruit (-7 syns)
  • replacing the custard with banana and custard Muller yoghurt (-7 syns)

That brings each dessert to just two syns. But really.

Instructions

  • break up your sponge cake into tiny little pieces and line the bottom of your bowl with it
  • optional: you could drizzle on some creme de cassis if you wanted, 25ml is 3.5 syns!
  • build up a tight layer of frozen raspberries - pack them in so they can't roll about
  • make up your jelly and gently pour over the raspberries and sponge until it just covers the fruit
  • leave to set
  • top with custard (yes!) or Muller Yoghurt (booo), then the cream, then the hundreds and thousands

Enjoy!

Notes

Courses dessert

We don’t have a great amount of desserts to offer, but have a look…

J

our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway

Lemon chicken, if you don’t mind – but I do mind, because it’s my favourite dish and I want it now. James is still laid out with illness and, in between dabbing his fevered brow and attending to his every need *cough*, we still have to get a blog-post out. However, luckily, the other half writes out his holiday entries well in advance so when times are dry for things to write about, we can whack one of these up. To that end, if you’re here for the recipe and the recipe alone, click the button below to be whisked straight there. Or scroll until you see the food. I imagine that’ll pose no difficulties for most of you.

Thank goodness they’ve gone. I bet they own more television remotes than books, you know. Let’s go back to Stockholm!


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

Look, if we carry on at the rate we’re going, we’ll never leave Stockholm. We’ve got three more days there and frankly, if I keep spending 1000 words describing the type of coffee I enjoyed, we’ll never get anywhere. So let’s try something different: I’m going to write about the highlights of the trip in a loose, fudged-together timeline. If you’re like Rose and are displeased, I invite you to stop being such a surfitta-lit. Best not to google that one, though.

Skyview at the Ericsson Globe

First on the list was a trip on the Skyview – an external lift that goes up and over the Ericsson Globe arena down in the imaginatively named Stockholm Globe City district of Stockholm.

It’s like a Bond film without a budget!

You’ll know the Globe, I bet: it’s hosted the Eurovision Song Contest at least twice (fun fact: for three days after these events they don’t actually need to power the lifts – they rise up on the fug of amyl nitrate of their own accord) (and mysteriously, all the previously stuck doors just ease open to allow easy access) and there’s been all manner of big stadium concerts in there. And Shania Twain. We learned this fact by having to bear witness to the same Shania Twain five-second advert on loop whilst we stood in the queue for ten minutes waiting for tickets to be the first to board. No man should ever have to endure that much Shania Twain – I felt like I was 14 again, listening to my sister play ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ for the eighty-seventh time. She’s a hard to please witch, isn’t she – Shania, not my sister: frankly, if there’s any rocket scientists out there with a car and fine hair, get in touch. I get impressed by a bloke who can eat his dinner without spilling a third of it on the carpet, much lower standards. We were second in the queue with only a wee Chinese grandma in front of us so we were guaranteed admission to the first pod and then we could be on our way.

Only, no; she bought tickets for 22, and out of the McDonalds over the road came a tour-bus of selfie-sticks, expensive winter wear and Marlboro Reds, pushing us back into the third pod. That meant twenty more minutes of Shania looping. If I close my eyes now I still see her fabulously-conditioned hair and Polo-mint-teeth burnt on my eyelids. Keeping things in perspective, I spent those twenty minutes staring at the suspension cable of their pod in the vain hope so much venom would melt the steel. It was our turn soon enough and I mean, it was good fun and affords you a pleasant enough view of the city, but nothing that the (much cheaper) TV tower earlier hadn’t done the day before. Plus, the clean freak in me wanted to open the pod and run a squeegee along the windows, they were absolutely hacky.

#inspirashunal #omgbabez

Twenty minutes is a long time to spend looking over the top of a mall and some distant buildings, though we were at least entertained by the three teenage girls who spent the entire twenty minutes posing in front of their phones. I swear, they couldn’t have looked out of the window once. Just how many shots do you need of:

  • sucking invisible spaghetti;
  • thousand yard stare;
  • oh my god spontaneous shot of me I promise but actually, it’s taken twelve minutes;
  • McDonalds eyebrows; and
  • GROUP OF GIRLS RIGHT hadehar

for your friggin’ Instagram? You know how I take photos of us? I point the camera somewhere north of our staircase of chins, and click take photo. Done. It’s that simple.

The ABBA museum

Next, the ABBA museum. Well, it had to be, didn’t it? We made our way via Sweden’s excellent underground rail system. First of all, they must have known I was coming because they put up some especially camp warning signs.

No mincing please

Secondly, our journey was greatly enlivened by the fact that a woman, clearly off her tits, stood up, started shouting in Swedish and then pissed herself at great length. Was it my aftershave? I don’t know, but we had to all get off at the next stop – her to clean herself up, me to wring the bottom of my jeans out. Poor lass pissed like a bloody racehorse. Luckily, we were close enough to walk to the Abba museum and it only took us ten minutes of sliding around on the ice to do so. Now, remember me telling you that Sweden is eye-wateringly expensive? I was in full gush when I paid for our tickets here: £44 for two. £44 to enter a museum! That’s not £44 for a sit down meal and a chance to try and talk Agnetha round, no no – just to give you access to the turntable. I mean, I know they’ve got to make their Money Money Money, but come on.

We paid up and went in and boom: something to make it all worthwhile. Who the hell knew that Benny was such a DILF back in the day? I mean now he looks like someone you’d see arguing with trees but back then, fuck me – lucky I hadn’t spotted him yesterday, or else it really would have been The Day Before You Came. I was quite taken – all sorts of shirtless photos and videos plastered the walls – at least I had somewhere to hang my multi-language headset, I suppose.

He’d be Benny, Paul and I would be the Jets

And actually, despite the shafting at the start, the museum was excellent – very thorough, detailed and interactive. Almost too interactive actually: there were booths you could nip into and do karaoke without people being able to hear you. We elected to give Mamma Mia a bash and thought we sounded great until we listened back later on via their website and it sounds like a livestream from a condemned abattoir. You know how you think you can sing in the shower? You can’t. I’m surprised they didn’t ask us to leave.

Make just one swap in this photo and it’ll match the thumbnail of at least two of our xtube videos. Just saying.

It only got worse – we rounded a corner to find the next exhibition was where you could get up on stage and sing along as the 5th member of ABBA whilst they superimposed the other four alongside us. FLABBA, if you prefer. I said we couldn’t, but the museum worker was very persuasive – she literally said you can dance, you can jive. I tried to explain that I dance like my feet are on fire and she replied ‘Dancing Queen’. I retorted by calling her a homophobic blonde bitch.

I jest, on we went – there was no-one about anyway bar her and I’m sure she’s seen two eighteen-stone Geordies pretending to be Abba before. Who hasn’t? I’m sure it was a storyline in an episode of Vera – if it wasn’t then it bloody should have been, because we absolutely murdered the song. Of course, no sooner had we started caterwauling and shuffling around like sad bears in a rubbish zoo than a gaggle of other gay men – all stylish and shrieking – came round the corner and started giving us bitchy appraising looks. Honestly, the collective effect of them pursing their lips at the same time pulled at my eyelashes. The curator had the good grace to at least shut the music off after a minute rather than making us do a full set. We slunk off stage like the fat national embarrassment that we were and we hadn’t even went through the exit doors before André, B’Michael, Brandonael and A’Joseph were belting out Does Your Mother Know.

The rest of the museum was awash with dresses, videos, quizzes and all sorts of memorabilia. Yes: far too expensive, but worth it. I mean, it’s Abba.

Putting at least one syllable into country singer

 

Eating and drinking

We spent more than a couple of lovely hours in the Ardbeg Embassy tasting all the various beers they had to offer. Listen, when a beard with a man hanging off it offers you a giant glass of ‘Just Don’t Call Me Brett’ or ‘Cellar Troll’, you just don’t say no.

 

Always wondered what happened to Casualty’s Clive Mantle, and now we know – he’s ordering a pint in Sweden

What started as a ‘quick drink’ became an elongated ‘work our way down the list’ until we were a) smashed and b) poor. Fifteen quid for two pints, remember.

Pished

Drunk and beholden to our empty stomachs, we ventured out to find food, only to stumble into the first place with an open door that we found – Sally’s, next door. It was delicious. You know how good food tastes when you’re steaming and hungry? That, but coupled with big doughy flatbreads and good cheese – you need to understand that I haven’t had bread for several months at this point and I’m not kidding when I say my side of the table lifted up a fair few inches when they brought it out. Almost spilled my wine.

I want this again.

Oh and because it was Christmas, I had the reindeer carpaccio for starters. They even stuck a little red tomato on the plate in what I thought was a rather cruel jibe at poor Rudolph. Christmas is cancelled and I’m turning it into poo.

This was better than it looks.

The 3am graffiti

At some point we were tucked up in bed, doing our best to keep the hotel awake with our beer-smothered snoring, when I got up for a gypsy’s kiss and noticed that for the first time in the entire holiday, it was proper snowing. Not that stupid vicar’s dandruff sort of snow we get, but big thick flakes of it, all settling merrily on the ground. You need to understand that we went to Iceland, Switzerland and Copenhagen in winter and saw barely any snow so this was a big deal, so much so that I woke up Paul by throwing water in his face (accidentally, I knocked over his bedside glass in the excitement – I haven’t taken to waterboarding him in his sleep – yet) and got him out of bed. We dressed in all the fabulous winter attire we had brought and thought we wouldn’t need and dashed out to play in the snow like the two big kids we are. The city was asleep, we had to place to ourselves – I managed to sneak in some free advertising:

I was going to try and put other SW blogs on there but I didn’t have time to draw out the eight adverts necessary to go with it.

We made our way down into a small square that was absolutely pristine with snow – a complete blank canvas.

This IS…ART ATTACK!

It took less than a nanosecond before we were both studiously working on writing out the most offensive swearword we could in the biggest letters our legs would allow. Unhappily, I was only a third of the way through the ‘N’ when two police officers came over to see what all the gleeful screaming was about. You’ve never seen someone turn a nine foot capital ‘N’ into a ‘B’ and a tiny ‘S’ quicker than me that night – I was like Michael Flatley on ice. They asked what we were doing and I lied through my teeth to try and explain we were making a giant version of our logo – it was only when I showed them twochubbycubs on my phone that they understood.

Now in a normal situation both Paul and I would have been well-up with being bundled into the back of a van by two tattooed, bearded, uniformed men and roughly manhandled, indeed, we call it a successful night at Washington Services round here, but not that night – it was that cold that my testicles were rolling around in my scrotum like peas at the bottom of the freezer. Any ejaculate would have slid out like a Mini Milk, so even I didn’t bother making the ‘whatever can I do, officer’ fluttering eyes/arse at them.

A mite embarrassed, we returned to our beds.

Paul does have a chin – he has a collection, actually – it’s just the lighting

Seems like a good place to leave it!

REMEMBER FOLKS: we love feedback on the holiday entries! It makes my day! So please do leave a comment to gee us along!

previousArtboard 1


Let’s do the lemon chicken recipe then. This makes enough for four large portions, and if there’s anyone who can handle a large portion, it’s YOU!

lemon chicken

lemon chicken

to make our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway, you’ll need:

  • four chicken breasts, big and fat, cut into chunks
  • 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of rice vinegar
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 175ml chicken stock
  • 75ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2 tbsp of honey (5 syns)
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour (1 syn)

top tips for our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway:

to make our best ever lemon chicken fakeaway, you should:

  • in a bowl, add the chicken chunks to the soy sauce and vinegar and make sure every piece is covered – longer you leave it, the better it will be
  • when you’re ready to cook, cook the chicken off in a pan until it is cooked through
  • mix together the chicken stock, lemon juice, honey and cornflour and then tip into the pan with the chicken and cook until it has all thickened up
  • serve with rice and finely grated lemon rind
  • mwah!

Easy peasy! We’ve done loads of fakeaways lately, take a look:

J

beef chilli and bean pasta bake – canny winter food!

Beef chilli and bean pasta bake! We’ve done a fair few pasta bakes lately but see, they’re excellent winter meals because you can make a huge portion, freeze the leftovers and thoroughly enjoy them as a meal! It’s a holiday entry though, so if you’re here just for the recipe, click the button below and it’ll take you straight to the recipe. Move along, sugarboobs, there’s nothing for you here.

You absolutely made the right choice, let’s go!


click here for part one | click here for part two

You last left us just as we stumbled, blinking and frowning into the apricity of a Stockholm winter, having spent a merry hour groping around in the dark with a total stranger. I appreciate that’s pretty much the start of all of our holiday entries but you get the idea. What next? Over in the distance from the Museum for the Blind loomed the Kaknästornet, a 155 meter TV tower. We weren’t planning on visiting until we realised there was a restaurant on the 26th floor and given how windy it was, it was likely to be deserted. A quick tramp through the woods led us there and, after handing over a small fortune, we were dispatched to a rickety old lift that sounded like it clacked and clicked against every last bolt and screw in that shaft. Despite the whole tower swaying ominously it was absolutely worth the trip – the views were amazing. We sat and enjoyed a strong restorative coffee and a slab of cake the size of Paul’s arse and all was well with the world. I like being high up looking down – it makes me feel like a God, albeit one with lingonberry jam dripping on his chin.

Admittedly not the best photo, but it was swaying…

 

We should explain at this point that we had, for once in our lives, managed to plan ahead and purchase a Stockholm Pass, which afforded you entry into all sorts of attractions for a one-off fee. A quick google search revealed we were within walking distance of a bus-stop which would take us straight to the museum district which held, amongst other things, an Absolut Museum and even better, the friggin’ ABBA museum. Well now come on, some things are inevitable, and us two benders paying homage to the campest band ever, well, it was always going to happen. We wandered over to the bus-stop and took a seat, reassured that one of Stockholm’s incredibly reliable buses would be along within six minutes. The timetable and electronic board certainly confirmed this. So we waited. Waited some more. Then a bit longer. Thirty minutes passed and I made to leave only to spot Paul sitting there with that grim, sulky and determined look on his face that told me that because he had wasted half an hour waiting for this bus, he was going to damn well wait until one turned up. I know this face well: bottom lip pops out, eyebrows furrow like he’s solving a cryptic crossword – normally the only thing that can break the spell is if he hears me unwrapping a Crunchie bar, like an obese take on Pavlov’s dog.

Even the bus-stop suggested filth.

So we waited even longer until I snapped and ordered him to stand up and start moving. So much protestation but I’d be damned if I was going to spend another minute gazing at the minutiae of the Stockholm bus timetable and trying to work out whether överföra meant cancelled, transfer or that the typesetter had taken ill at the keys and slumped over the keyboard. After promising I’d rub his feet if he started moving we were finally off.

We were about twenty steps away from the stop when a bus sailed straight past us, depositing a pleasant mix of slush and schadenfreude across the bottom of our trousers. Paul was furious and only calmed down when we happened across The Museum of Science and Technology. Now we’re talking: buttons to press. It was great fun! Highlights included a stage where you could pose whilst virtual reality dinosaurs ran around you, the sight of which was beamed to the rest of the museum live. It took less than seven hot seconds before Paul was pretending to get bummed by a tyrannosaurus rex and was roundly tutted from the stage. Oh and let’s not forget the winter sports section where you could try all manner of sporty experiences in the comfort of a warm museum and a reassuring proximity to a defibrillator. I climbed a tiny little mountain before realising my own giant crevasse was on show.

It’s like a Lidl take on Cliffhanger

We both tried our hand at curling only to realise you need dexterity and grace rather than a considerable weight advantage – most folks glide on ice, we look like a landslide. My favourite part was an enclosed booth which offered you the chance to be commentators on an ice-hockey game playing out in front of you – we started off with good intentions, yelling and blaring, before it degenerated into ‘HAWAY TORVILL, YOU LAMPSHAPE-FACED SLAPPER’ and ‘SKATE FASTER, NANCY KERRIGAN: THIS TIME THERE’S NAILS IN THE BAT’.

Not exactly Match of the Day

All in good fun – the booth was soundproof from the inside so no harm no foul, and we took everyone’s icy stares as simply being that crisp Swedish attitude so common over there. That was until we realised I’d managed to shut my coat in the door, preventing it from fully closing, and allowing the museum full audible access to our rantings, shrieking and wailings. We left ashen-faced, but not before a quick go on the virtual toboggan – only a quick go because a four year old child appeared and start pressing the buttons.

Honestly, do folks not know how to behave in museums?

We tackled the big issues!

After the Science Museum I somehow managed to persuade Paul to keep walking (it’s easier in cold countries – because of the icy ground, you just need to shove him gently and let gravity do the rest) and we headed a couple of miles along the river to the Spritmuseum down on Djurgårdsvägen, having found out that the Abba museum was shut for the night. Bastards. The Spritmuseum is a museum dedicated to booze – how they make it, how they bottle it, what it does to the body and even better, with some free tasters. You understand why we were lured in, yes? I can’t pretend it was terrifically exciting, and I don’t think we took the ‘hangover simulator’ as seriously as the guides wanted as Paul promptly fell asleep on the sofa during the ‘a hard night out’ movie, but it passed the time. There’s something about museums abroad that the UK can’t seem to match – our museums are always full of tired exhibitions hidden behind glass cubes coated with fingerprints, smelly children barrelling around being noisy and loud and lots of ladies who have never known what it is to love yelling at people that THEY MUST NOT TOUCH and STAND WELL BACK and YOU CAN’T EAT THAT IN HERE. I swear I once had an argument with a curator who had a pop at me for eating outside food when I took a packet of Halls from my pocket. Pfft.

Found Paul!

Found my bedroom friend!

The museum itself took up only half an hour but afterwards we decamped into the bar and, in a fit of ‘but I don’t care that it cost more than the flights over’ excitement, I ordered a taster selection of the various spirits for us to try.

Pictured: Cyril Smith enjoying a drink

It’s hard to look butch in that shirt

Now listen: I’ve swallowed some disgusting things in my life. Top tip: pinch your nose and gulp, you’ll find it slips down that much easier. But these spirits absolutely defeated me – I felt like Anne Robinson back when she was necking her dressing room Chanel. I tried to sip them to ‘taste the flavour notes’ but it would have been nicer to chew open batteries. Paul was merrily necking them and so, in my haste to get past it, I threw the lot in my mouth, grimaced and swallowed. Worst 50 Swedish krona we spent that holiday. We should have left, but the very friendly bar staff noticed how quickly we had knocked it back and filled our glasses up again for free. Very generous indeed, but you have no idea how difficult it is to fake pleasure in swallowing what tastes like something they’d use to dissolve a London fatberg, especially when some blonde bombshell is looking at you both approvingly whilst you savour the flavour. I’ve never acted so hard in my life but after the second round – seeing stars – we had to pretend to urgently leave. We were absolutely bloody smashed.

We had an escape room booked for the evening and so, conscious of the fact we were both seeing double, we decided to make our way to the escape room via a nice long boat ride. Ah it was glorious – floating along in the ice-cold really freshened the mind and by the time we were pulling into the port, we were back in full ‘Rose and Jack’ voice.

Our Escape Room was hosted by Fox in a Box and they welcomed us with open arms, wincing only gently at the alcohol fumes pouring out of us. It was a very unusual location – underground with several rooms with different themes. You know we love an escape room and we have made a point of doing one on each holiday so far: this one was themed like a laboratory and the idea was that we had to stop a zombie apocalypse. Of course. Escape rooms are fun but it’s so hard to look serious whilst someone who couldn’t care less is telling you that there’s zombies just outside the door. She sealed us in. I started looking for clues when, as though he’d been holding it in since the TV tower, Paul let out a fart so loud and so elongated that I thought he’d found a trombone. You know how your ears ring after a large firework goes off? That was me. I might remind you that the rooms are linked to the reception so that they can hear if you get stuck, so they would have been treated as well. We were absolutely creased – we’re huge fan of toilet humour – but then it literally sank in. In a sealed room, with no air-conditioning or window, that fetid air wasn’t going anywhere. If anything, it seemed to get worse and worse, smelling like someone was burning tyres in a fire made of shit. It’s hard to concentrate on mixing colours and typing codes when your eyes are streaming and your nose is bleeding. The hour passed and we ‘saved the day’ with moments to spare. That’s all well and good, but when the lassie unlocked to lock the door and the air rushed out of the room, she was hit with the full force and set away with a coughing fit. I’ve never been so embarrassed and this happens a lot on our holidays: I’m left beetroot faced and Paul is standing there grinning like the cat that shat the bed.

Oh, at least the McDonalds had a compliment…

Cheers mate!

Seems like a good moment to get back to the recipe, doesn’t it?

REMEMBER FOLKS: we love feedback on the holiday entries! It makes my day! So please do leave a comment to gee us along!

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Right, let’s do this recipe eh? This serves 4 big portions!

beef chilli and bean pasta bake


beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you will need:

  • 400g lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 2 sticks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp chilli powder (as hot or as mild as you like)
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 300g wholewheat pasta
  • 120g fat-free greek yoghurt (check the syns)
  • 220g Philadelphia lightest (2x hea)
  • 80g reduced fat extra mature cheese, grated (2x HeA)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten

top tips to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake

to make beef chilli and bean pasta bake you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºc
  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, then drain
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, spray with a bit of oil and add the onions and celery
  • cook for a few minutes until starting to soften, then scoop out the pan and set aside
  • add the mince to the pan and cook until browned
  • add the onions and celery back into the pan and tip in the tomatoes, kidney beans, celery, tomato puree, chilli powder, garlic and beef stock
  • stir well, bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes
  • next, mix together the yoghurt, Philadelphia, salt, pepper, cheese and eggs and set aside
  • mix the pasta and the mince mixture together and tip into a large dish
  • top with the cheese mixture, making sure that it’s even spread over the top
  • bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes – finish under the grill for a few minutes to get the top crispy

Who couldn’t love that?! Try our other pasta bakes!

J

warm and spicy shepherd’s pie – perfect warming food

Warm and spicy shepherd’s pie on the menu tonight. Two things: it really ought to be a cottage pie because we’re using beef mince and secondly, should it be shepherd’s or shepherds’ pie? Oh it confuses me, but at least you guys aren’t getting the blog delivered in text speak. So shush. For tonight’s story you’re coming back with us to Stockholm but listen, we’re not going to stay too long – it’s just I’ve had this ‘typed up’ in my head all day and I want to spurt it out. It’s only one memory – a two hour trip, in fact – but because it was great fun, here it is. As ever, if you’re here just for the food, click the button below to be whisked straight to it.

Do you know, even though I’ve included that button and made it super clear how to get to the recipe, I’ll still get emails from people saying luklushun were recipea plz. I think I could cheerfully nip over to their house, cook their meal and then press their faces into the gravy and they’d still look blank-eyed and slack-jawed, mouthing the words carent c it sorry over and over. But I digress. Enjoy my mini holiday entry, those of you with some dignity.

click here for part one

I’m actually going to cheat and jump forward to the next day – we spent most of the evening before just wandering around drinking before retiring for an early night, and as this isn’t an Ibsen play, I don’t think you need that level of blisteringly boring deal. So, power-mince through time with me ’til the next morning when, having applied for a small loan in order to buy a coffee and a pastry, we wandered out into the streets.

What joys awaited us then? Of course: a museum dedicated to what life is like if you’re a blind person. Admit it: that was your second guess. We had seen the Invisible Exhibition advertised in the inflight magazine on the flight over and despite the scant details, we knew we had to give it a go, and so it was that we were found heading towards the Osynlig Utställning at 10.30am in the morning.

Our journey on the bus was marred a little by having some chap stare at us the whole way – every time I looked up from cooing out the window at how pretty the city was I’d meet his fixed, cold gaze. This went on for a good twenty minutes and he didn’t return my smile or respond to my scowling. Even when I started doing that thing where you stick your middle finger up and slide it over your cheek in a subtle ‘fuck off’ fashion he didn’t stop staring. Very disconcerting, and, of course, when it came to our stop he jumped up and made his way smartly off the bus in front of us, though thankfully he disappeared in the opposite direction as went off to find a coffee that wouldn’t immediately bankrupt us.

That took altogether longer than expected: turns out there’s not a great amount of cafés open down at the docks on a Sunday morning, though we managed to finally locate a watery attempt at coffee by walking into a gym and standing looking at the receptionist for ten minutes whilst she dithered about with her paperclips as though we didn’t exist. Here, I know we’re fat and thus about as welcome in your fancy spa-gym as a verruca outbreak, but pay us some heed. Sulking but caffeinated, we made our way to the exhibition.

The premise then: experience life without sight. The first shock was the price of admission – they definitely saw us coming. Or rather, they didn’t. Actually the entrance fee was very reasonable – I just wanted to set up that laborious joke. We were the only ones there and had to stow our coats, watches and indeed, anything with a light, into a locker. I joked that ‘but I light up a room just by being there!’ but they must have been a deaf-mute because they didn’t immediately fall to the floor clutching their sides. The tour began with a kindly chap showing us how to use a Braille keyboard which, of course, I grasped straight away and typed out my name – it came out as Jimas, and rather than admit my error I just took that name and ran with it for the rest of the tour, feigning some vague Arabic origin story. Paul mastered it effortlessly, of course, but see he’s got a terribly boring first name which is hard to get wrong. If his name was a colour it would be the shade of piss-weak tea.

Our young host left us at this point and we sat at the table until a cry of ‘Jimas and Paul’ bellowed out from across the reception. Part two of our tour was ready: forty minutes being led around a pitch black room stumbling around various ‘scenarios’ to see how you would come without sight. Our guide arrived and OF COURSE it was the bloke from the bus who I thought had been staring wildly at me but had actually just been looking at me without seeing me. The relief I felt when he explained in his opening speech that he was totally blind was immense. He hadn’t seen me mouthing ‘fuck off’ to him for half the bus journey. Or had he? Was this a ruse? Was he going to trip me up in the darkness? Paranoid!

He led us in. What followed was a genuinely bizarre but, no pun intended, eye-opening experience – lots of different rooms to be led around in the blackness, guided only by his excellent instruction. Stuff like sniffing spice jars in the dark to season a meal (at first I thought he was giving me poppers – what can I say, when in a dark room…), operating the taps in a bathroom, putting on music. There was a room where we were encouraged to feel various statues to identify them – The Thinker by Rodin, Atlas holding up a globe and then, with much shrieking from Paul, he identified that he was in the throes of giving Michelangelo’s David a rusty trombone. Later rooms involved crossing a ‘busy street’, walking through a forest at night (♬ you gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith ♬) and sitting down in a café where you were able to order drinks and snacks from the guide. I was all for a glass of tap water and getting the hell out but, because Paul is hilariously obese, he ordered a tube of Pringles. He could not have ordered a noisier bloody snack if he tried. Have you ever had to sit in the pitch black, all senses bar your sight heightened, listening to your partner crunch his Pringles, smack his lips and make awkward small talk with a guide who was probably itching to get out? I have. I took to making ‘wanker’ signs at Paul and mouthing ‘c*nt’ at him whilst he chewed.

It occured to me as we left the ‘room’ that there’s bound to be an infra-red camera up in the eaves watching us in case of someone falling over or a fire breaking out, meaning that me being horrible to my other half in the dark will all be documented and put on the staff newsletter. However, as we left, Paul confessed that whenever the guide had been talking, Paul had been pulling faces and spreading his arse cheeks at me. Classic Jimas and Paul, right? Once we’d settled up the bill for the Pringles and said a thanks to the guide, we scuttled out.

Let me say this on a genuine note: it was great. No pun intended, it was eye-opening – so disorientating being in the dark but interesting in all of the different ways life can be made easier for blind folk. The guides were charming and the exhibition really well set out – if you’re ever in Stockholm, and in the mood for something entirely different, give it a go!

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Right, let’s do this recipe eh? We were looking for a more unusual, warming take on the shepherd’s pie and this recipe came through! You might be feeling a bit unsure about adding spice to such a classic but trust me when I tell you it’s bloody amazing. This makes enough for four massive portions – could very easily serve 6, but we’re fat and greedy. We didn’t get here by eating salad, after all!

shepherd's pie


shepherd's pie

to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you’ll need:

  • 800g potatoes, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 500g lean lamb mince (or beef)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 400ml lamb (or beef) stock
  • 1 tbsp gravy granules (2½ syns)
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • juice of half a lemon

top tips for making warm and spicy shepherd’s pie:

to make a warm and spicy shepherd’s pie, you should:

  • if you’re using an actifry, chuck the potatoes in with the turmeric and spray over a bit of oil and cook for about 10 minutes
  • if you’re using an oven, spray the potatoes with a bit of oil and toss in the turmeric
  • next, preheat the oven to 200°c
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray in a little oil
  • add the mince, onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently
  • add the garam masala, stock, peas and gravy granules and give a good stir
  • bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce to a simmer until the gravy has thickened (about 3-4 minutes)
  • tip the mixture into a large dish and top with the potatoes, then squeeze over the lemon juice
  • bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes
  • serve!

Tasty! Want more ideas for a good evening meal with mince? Then let the Mincing King sort you out!

Yum!

J

syn free cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake

Here for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake? WITH NO BLOODY QUARK? But of course you are, my love – the recipe awaits you at the bottom of this page. But before we get to the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, we have part one of our holiday entry for our Christmas trip to Sweden and Norway! Newcomers to the blog may not know this, but we’re also a ‘travel’ blog in that when we go away, we like to post the stories of what we get up to. Admittedly, this can lead to a long post, so to help you – if you’re here solely for the food, click the button below to go straight to it! I promise not to cry too much.

The rest of you settle back – this is a long one! And look, to celebrate, I’ve even tidied up the banners – I was sick of that awful messy looking banner template I had. This looks altogether more…Swedish, ja? Let’s go!

I’ve been looking forward to typing up this holiday entry ever since we came back – why? Simple: it was amazing! It’s not as though we did anything out of the ordinary or unique – just our usual pottering about in cities getting lost and having a good time – but there was just something terrific about the whole experience. Every day was a happy memory – I haven’t been able to say that about any holiday since we went on that coach trip. I jest, that was Hell in a 57-seater. But before you join us on our Scandinavian adventure, we need to dip back in time a bit further to a wet October afternoon, where you would have found me slumped over my keyboard at the end of a very, very long email exchange with the other half. Here’s how every single holiday of ours gets planned: I suggest somewhere, Paul sucks air in over his teeth and say ‘oooh’ with that look a roofer gives you when he’s going to need to take your tiles off, I suggest somewhere else, he grimaces like he’s shitting an acorn. He then suggests somewhere wildly expensive and extravagant and pouts when I point out he’s trying to live a Waitrose lifestyle on a shoplifted-from-Lidl budget. We both then give up and stop talking until one of us cracks and we’re friends again, holiday completely forgotten about. Hence, on this October afternoon, conscious of the fact we’d need to book somewhere before all the parents and (shudder) their snotty-nosed litter booked up all the fun places, I sent a plaintive little email asking if we dare broach ‘booking the big holiday’. Paul, to his credit, was very agreeable, but then we immediately started arguing about where to go.

So, I did something I would never normally do because it’s altogether too much effort: I acted unilaterally. Straight onto hotels.com to book four nights in Stockholm, flights to Oslo, four nights in Oslo, a train journey to Bergen, three nights in Bergen and then the flights back to London then to Newcastle. For good measure, I booked the train to take us up to Edinburgh Airport for our Stockholm flight and a hotel for the night before. I parcelled all the reservations in one big PDF and sent them to Paul, triumphant. His reply? ‘Ah good, sounds nice

It’s lucky he works twenty miles away and I’m so fat and lazy that I couldn’t be arsed to get in the car to go and tan his arse because damn, was my excitement punctured. He only won me around later by explaining he was in a meeting and actually he was very much looking forward to our lovely holiday and indeed I was the best husband in the world and no, he’d never sin again. I can’t say his agreement was purely because I was pulling on his balls like a farmer milking a cow at the time. Who can say…

To day one, then. Our journey begins as so many of them often do: a taxi ride to the train station by a man so Geordie and hardcore that he explained he’d recently suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his car, chalked it down to indigestion and carried on driving passengers around. It was only after a whole day of chest pains and breathlessness that he went to A&E. Great! I imagine he took my endless staring into his rear-view mirror as rapt attention to his mildly-racist stories but actually, I was just making sure his lips hadn’t turned blue and he wasn’t going to career us into a lamp-post. We made it safely to the station and I left him a generous tip. Well, something had to pay for the funeral buffet. We were due to take the 14.30 Virgin Train to Edinburgh, but, to add a frisson of excitement to the start of our holiday, they elected to jumble all the trains around and delay our train by a full hour. Super, but have no fear, we’re Rockafella Skanks – we had first class advance tickets and thus the utopia that is the first class lounge awaited us – what a treat!

No. You may know this yourself but the first class lounge at Newcastle is fitted out like the waiting room of an NHS dentist – all pastel colours on the wall, hotel biscuits and furniture that looks as though it’s blown in from a storm. It really is dreadful. We comforted ourselves with the fact we could eat as many biscuits as humanely possible and entertain ourselves with our phones, able as we were to take full advantage of the charging points. Only the charging points didn’t work, they had run out of biscuits and the toilet was blocked and overflowing. We’d have had more luxury fighting the rats on the train-tracks for some discarded Greggs and somewhere to shit. To compound my misery I spotted my old HR director from a previous job who I absolutely despised. She was to fun what I am to a chaste heterosexual lifestyle. She was very much one of those type of people who would click ‘skip straight to recipe’ on this blog and then email me to tell me she was allergic to food and how insensitive I was being by posting a recipe. She hated me especially because I burst out laughing when she fell over in the middle of the office, having stumbled into an open floor socket, falling down like one of those cooling towers you sometimes see getting blown up on the telly. I couldn’t help it: I have a nervous laugh, and anyway, she deserved it. She was Miss Trunchbull in a Jigsaw-outlet suit. We clashed many, many times – she upheld a complaint that I laughed too much, for example, and that I didn’t take the job seriously because I wore trainers to work. Pfft. I never said anything about her homage-to-Robert-Winston moustache.

I made sure to give her the sickliest, fakest, cheesiest smile I could muster up – a smile that said ‘Damn, I honestly thought you’d be dead by now, but here’s to the good times, you vile husk of a woman’ and walked past her, making sure she saw I still wore the trainers that used to irk her so. It did mean, however, that I couldn’t relax, because every time I stood up for a fresh coffee or a newspaper she would give me 100% pure stink-eye. So, all in all, a rubbish experience. Luckily, the train journey made up for it, though I wish they’d do away with the pretence of unlimited tea and coffee – we had one member of staff come around with the hot drinks, leave us a gin and gave us a sandwich, and that was it, no more, goodnight nurse. We’d polished off our ‘dinner’ by the time the train was whooshing past the house we’d left only 90 minutes before. No matter – we arrived in Edinburgh in the pissing rain, jumped straight into a taxi (why oh why oh why do people stand and wait for taxis these days? Just use bloody Lyft or Uber for goodness sake – embrace technology!) who whisked us straight to the hotel, but not before regaling us for forty minutes about why electric cars were the future. Forty minutes is a long time to nod politely: my poor neck sounded like popcorn by the end of it. Paul and I have an agreed arrangement: I deal with taxi drivers, he deals with the people who bring room service to our hotel room whilst I hide in the bathroom. It works very well indeed simply because I’m good at making small talk and he’s very believable as a fat bastard who has ordered enough food to feed two people. He’s seen many a hotel worker cast him a pitying look as they put down the laden trays of food in front of him.

Don’t worry, that bedspread soon looked as though someone had spilled Marmite everywhere   

Our night at the Dakota was very pleasant indeed, even if the room service left a lot to be desired. It’s all a bit frou-frou – I like to see people buckle under the weight of my plate, not be able to frisbee it across the room because there’s a bit of cress and a hair of cheese on the plate. In fact, we were so unsatisfied by the volume of our food that we waited a discreet twenty minutes and ordered another round. Well, when you’re on holiday, these things don’t matter, though I could have done without the judgemental ‘oh, TWO rounds of room service, my mistake’ remark from the receptionist when we checked out. I don’t think she had warmed to me because, upon seeing that the reception was full of blokes all in black kilts, full Scottish regalia and beards you could lose a dog in, I remarked ‘but I didn’t order breakfast!‘ to her with a nudge-nudge-wink-wink leer. That’ll be us on the blacklist.

I won’t bore you with the 150 minutes we spent at Edinburgh Airport only to make two remarks:

  • can someone please persuade my husband that we absolutely do not need to be at the airport so far in advance of a flight, especially when the only thing we’re taking on board the aircraft is hand luggage and chewing gum – I swear that unless Paul’s at the airport the day before he’s an unbearable nervous wreck; and
  • massive thank you to the Scottish toilet cleaner who, having not realised I was sitting in the cubicle next to the one she’d just gone in to clean, exclaimed ‘now which fuckin’ dirty c*nt has gone and done that’ in a loud Scottish burr. Thank God I was sitting on the toilet at the time because I would have pissed myself outright – it was so loud and so disgusted that I almost wanted to climb on my toilet to peer over and take a look.

Now here’s a new thing: we weren’t flying easyJet! I know! I want some reassurance from you all though – am I the only one who likes to fly with an airline they’ve flown with before? I think I rationalise it in my mind that they didn’t crash before, so it must be safe. Nevertheless, the lure of a cheaper flight won me over and so it was that we boarded an SAS flight to Stockholm. Well: what a revelation! Lovely new plane, free tea and coffee, USB sockets in the back of the seats – even the bog didn’t smell like a foot and mouth crisis in an open sewer like they normally do. I was very impressed, and even more so when they landed us safely in Stockholm without ditching us into the North Sea. Don’t get me wrong, my heart will always be with the tangerine-trolleys of easyJet, but I might use SAS on the side like the plane-hopping slag that I am.

Byeeeeeeeeeeee

Before we continue, I want to give praise where it’s due: to Paul. We’ve flown twenty times this year and each time he lets me sit by the window because he knows I like to be able to look at the engine and the wing to make sure everything is OK. I mean, I know the captain has a fair idea, but I’m sure it’s a comfort to him (or her) to know that I’m keeping an eye on the flaps from the back. Story of my life, that. Anyway, I always offer to sit in the aisle but Paul always gives me the window seat and for that he gets a gold star, or a go on my brown star, whichever he prefers. It makes the flight better for me so I want to say a big thank you to my gorgeous and lovely Shitty McGee.

I love this woman’s face. It’s like she’s being asked to blow into a smeggy knob.

We landed on time and were ushered through immigration in a wonderful Swedish efficient manner. I was pleased to see that the lady looked the spit of Agnetha from ABBA – exactly as I expected. We sloshed our way to the train station, took the airport express straight into Stockholm Central and then made our way on foot to our base of operations for the next few days: the Hobo Hotel on Brunkebergstorg. I chose the hotel simply because of the name and the fact it looked so cool and hip on the website. I wanted to see how they’d deal with two fat blokes whose idea of high fashion is a Cotton Traders. To their absolute credit, the staff – though they all looked like they were part of a really shit/unknown yah-yah electrosynth band – were unfailingly lovely and helpful.

Our room – we could watch the office workers over the road. No doubt my fat hairy arse has appeared in their company newsletter.

Our room was gorgeous too – massive bed, good steamy shower, television with Discovery on it (thank heavens – Paul was almost at 24 full hours without watching a How It’s Made) and lots of neat little touches. For example, there was a water pistol – imagine Paul’s delight when he’d just settled down for his ‘Welcome to Stockholm’ crap and I opened the door and squirted him right in the ear. How we laughed as he almost wrenched the toilet away from the wall in sheer fright. Ah, we’d arrived.

All I wanted was one nice picture.

Now, I’ve done the classic twochubbycubs holiday report opening and spent 2000 words getting us to the hotel. I did it with Copenhagen, Paris, Geneva…at this point, it would be rude not to. But let’s close part one here and get to the recipe.

Remember, folks – if you enjoy our holiday entries, please do let us know. I know they’re a longer read but we like to make it interesting. Feedback always welcomed!


Gosh, I’m spent – and now I need to do a full recipe for the cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake that you’re all actually here for! This makes a giant dish of pasta – easily enough for six – but it freezes well and tastes bloody amazing. Let’s go! This uses six HEAs but makes enough for six – so I count it as one HEA per portion as you’re using a sixth of each. Yes, we’re splitting HEAs, but hey, let’s live a little. This is a heavy, rich dish so you’ll not be eating loads in one go. YEAH RIGHT. You could knock down the HEAs by using Quark instead of Philadelphia, but it won’t be nearly as nice.

pasta bake

pasta bake

to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you’ll need:

  • 500g of pasta – any type will do, I promise
  • two fat leeks (use onion if you prefer)
  • a pack of bacon medallions
  • optional: 200g button mushrooms, chopped
  • two cloves of garlic
  • 120g of extra mature lighter cheese (3 x HEA)
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2 x HEA)
  • 250ml of semi-skimmed milk (1 x HEA)

top tips:

to make a cheesy leek and bacon pasta bake, you should:

  • preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  • cook your pasta – boiling water, salty as Paul in the morning, remove when there’s still a bit of give in the pasta
  • thinly slice your leek and chop your bacon (and add the mushrooms, if using) and gently fry it off in a pan with a few squirts of oil from your sprayer – as they soften, add the minced garlic
  • meanwhile, make the sauce by tipping your Philadelphia and milk into a pan, put it on a low heat and gently whisk until it’s all mixed together – it’ll be quite runny – at this point, add 100g of the cheese and keep whisking – you’ll end up with a nice thick cheesy sauce – season it with plenty of salt and pepper
  • tip everything together in the pasta pan, give everything a bloody good mix, slop it into an ovenproof dish, top with the remainder of the cheese, some chopped spring onion or leek if you’re feeling fancy, and pop it in the oven for about thirty minutes until the cheese is golden and everything is delicious
  • serve with a side salad which you studiously ignore

Gorgeous! Of course, if you’re looking for more delicious pasta ideas, we’ve got you covered:

Enjoy!

J

sesame chicken and broccoli – a perfect fakeaway!

Sesame chicken and broccoli with noodles: it’s like the beef and broccoli fakeaway we did, only with one exciting change. You’ll never guess!

Now, newer readers to this blog might not know this but we’re more than just a recipe site – we like to post up our holiday stories as well – long posts where I get to type out the nonsense that happens to us when we have the cheek to leave our living room. We’ve been all over on this blog: Iceland, New York, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Cornwall (god help us), Paris, Corsica and er, a coach trip. We’re a national embarrassment. Last year we tried to do twelve holidays and we managed eleven – not bad going for two fatties who get out of breath opening their passports, eh? We have a fantastic travel series of posts coming for Stockholm and Oslo, but first, let’s wipe away the winnit that’s been hanging on since April last year and finally finish our Copenhagen entry.

If you’re only here for the chicken and broccoli fakeaway, just scroll down until you reach the pretty colours or click the button below, which will whisk you straight there! I know, I’m a treat!

There, she’s gone. Thank god: I’ve never known anyone put their make-up on with a plastering hawk before.

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

Right, let me open with a confession: there’s a reason we’ve been putting off finishing the Copenhagen entries. Something I can’t talk about yet – enigmatic – but it’ll become clear soon! Don’t get too excited – we’re not getting a divorce, Paul didn’t meet a handsome Danish fish-botherer and run away to grow a beard and live happily ever after. I mean, that goes without saying: Paul wouldn’t run to a pool of water if his eyes were on fire. Mind I wouldn’t blame him – Copenhagen, like most Scandinavian countries, was absolutely awash with stunning men: beefy, tall, long haired, beard you could crawl up and die in. Honestly, it’s a good job I don’t like over there – I’d permanently have a bumhole like a pan of boiling milk. There, right there: that’s the image of me you’ll have if we ever lock eyes in the supermarket. Anyway, yes: all will become clear soon. To that end, rather than a huge cantata spread over 6,000 words, let’s just hit the best bits and finish this off!

Carlsberg factory

By all accounts, no trip to the historic and cultural Copenhagen is apparently complete without a trip to the Carlsberg factory to suckle on the teat of piss-weak lager. That’s why we ended up mincing furiously across Copenhagen in the absolute pissing rain to try and get the shuttle bus over to the factory early on a Sunday morning. I’ve never seen rain like it – it would have been quicker to get a lilo and float our way past the trams. Naturally, Paul took us to entirely the wrong pick-up point and so it was only after another twenty minutes of hurried running-walking-heavy-breathing that we arrived at the right place. I was silly, I should have just listened out for people loud Mandarin exclamations, given a good half of China’s population was also waiting for the bus. So many selfie-sticks, so little queueing. I can’t cope without an orderly queue: I like to know where I stand, but I persevere. The problem Paul and I have is that he’s incredibly polite and will not forgo his British sensibilities for anything, whereas I’m far more bullish about things and if no-one else is queueing and all surge to the bus-doors in one North Face rustling mass, you better believe I’ll be right there in the thick of it pushing people under the wheels and elbowing folks in the boobs. This invariably means that I get on first because of my bulk and then I’m left furiously watching Paul going ‘no no, after you’ and ‘I’ll get the next one’ and ‘no, he’s not with me’ to every person pushing past him without a thank you.

Now, you mustn’t think I’m a boorish swine: if there’s a queue I’ll join it. I have impeccable manners: I apologise at the point of orgasm, which admittedly makes it tricky when I’m at the doctors. But sometimes you’ve just got to go for it and to hell with the resulting deaths.

Once the driver had managed to squeeze eight hundred people onto his 57 seater coach (I’m sure I saw him tuck a startled old bloke into the ashtray) we were away, floating our way to the Copenhagen museum. Paul, in his slothlike manner, had been unable to sit next to me, meaning I spent the following fifteen minutes staring furiously at the back of his head and having my shins kicked by someone whose idea of observing my personal space was to attempt to get me to father her child, given how hard she was pressing against me. You can imagine how quickly the time passed.

Not going to lie – the Carlsberg factory was a bit…meh. I had visions of going around a super-factory, oohing and aahing at the conveyor bottles of beer being made and feigning interest as someone in a white coat and blue-bag shoes explained how they gum labels onto the bottles. No such luck. You can look around the original bottling machines, but they’re not switched on. You can read about the history of the Carlsberg dynasty but it’s about as exciting as reading the instructions that came with your router. If I wanted to look at a dusty, yeast-covered old relic with a rusting, ancient mechanism that has made thousands of blokes happy over the years, yes, you’ve guessed it, I’d visit Paul’s mother. I’m kidding, she’s lovely really.

[dry cough]

As it happens, we had made an error – we should have done the sampling tour first. This involved a small group of us being led deep underground by a dapper old man – it’s OK, he had a moustache like Josef Fritzl but I was confident I could have taken him in a fight – and into the cellars, although not before we managed to lose Paul. He’d stopped to admire the bunker they used to use in case of war only to find that our entire party had left the room and the guide had locked the door behind him. Perhaps that Fritz analogy was apt, after all. I only realised he had disappeared when I realised I couldn’t hear laboured breathing in my ear. I had to walk back with the guide until we found him, politely knocking on the door and going ‘hello, hello?’ like he was interrupting a church service. See, this is what I mean about restraint – if that had been me I’d have been scratching my name in the wall with my bloody fingernails and yelling FENNER within two minutes flat.

Paul’s prison.

Paul rejoined us and what followed was a very pleasurable half hour or so perched at a little table with a charming French couple (charming because they didn’t speak any English, so we didn’t have to make strained small talk with them) (I bet there’s a post right now on deux oursons potelés saying the same thing about us, only with more smoking and shrugging) sampling lots of big measures of different lagers. There was lots of waffle about hops and flavours and head (my ears perked up at that point) but to be honest, we tuned out and concentrated on drinking. I remind you that we’re British. It’s amazing how things suddenly seem more interesting and captivating when viewed through a haze of alcohol, isn’t it?

Trebles all round!

We wandered back up full of love and spent a merry hour revisiting the attractions we’d previously hurried past. We posed with the giant horses, one of which loved me so much that it started chewing my coat (which was foolish, as I make a mean horse stew, just sayin’). We skipped cheerfully through the gift-shop buying all manner of Carlsberg-branded tat, all of which remains rattling around in our holiday box. We examined the giant bottle collection for a Newcastle Brown but had no joy. Pathetic. I was so angry on behalf of all Geordies that I almost went and punched one of the horses, as is our way. A quick meal upstairs in their restaurant (delicious, expensive) then it was time to go. We looked at the bus-stop, decided we would rather die than experience that ‘fun’ again and instead turned for the two mile or so walk back to the centre of town.

We bumped into the most emo-horse ever though.

I liked Abba before everyone else thought they were cool.

 

Malmö

We actually managed to sneak an extra country into our holiday – Copenhagen is linked to Malmö in Sweden via rail/road bridge/tunnel, meaning you’re in the unique position of setting off from one country, crossing the Øresund Strait and ending up in a different country altogether in the time it takes to spill your coffee across the table, like I did. We’ve always wanted to visit Sweden – big ABBA fans here (shock!) and the lure of a day-trip was too strong. Passports packed, off we toddled. It was all terrifically easy – we set off from Copenhagen Airport and were pulling into Malmö in about twenty minutes. I can’t remember if we had our passports checked – normally I remember a fingering from a burly guard – but take them anyway, just in case.

A Sunday in Malmö was lovely. We sat outside a wee café and waited for the town to wake up. Paul ordered what looked like a bumhole from a bakery whereas I was more restrained and had a full quiche for breakfast. Well, it is a holiday, after all.

You have no idea how many photos I’ve seen like this in my life.

We then wandered around down to Kungsparken, an absolutely gorgeous park right in the centre. Killed a couple of hours here drinking and just enjoying the place – the cherry blossom trees were in full bloom and aaah, it was just marvellous. I appreciate this doesn’t make for an especially interesting blog but the whole day was just walking, relaxing and taking in the views and I don’t think that can be appreciated enough! Anyway, if you don’t slow down sometimes, you can’t remember all the things you said you would do.

Not sure what this is, but it looks pretty!

I felt so pretty walking through this.

Fun fact: they only switched this on because us and our energetic wind had arrived    

We passed a ‘British things’ store whose entire window was full of Radox. Is that an inherently British thing now? Having a bath? We ambled past two dogs having energetic sex right in the centre of one of the many bridges crossing the river, which I like to think added colour to all the photographs people were trying to take of the scenic views. We had a late lunch in Stortorget Square, a lovely town centre area full of charming restaurants and lively bars. It seemed to be the place to go. I ordered the meatballs, Paul had steak. After almost an hour they brought our dinner to the table and it was alright, yes, but I can’t enjoy Swedish meatballs unless I’m eating them furiously after a blistering argument in IKEA with Paul.

Plus, just saying, we have a recipe for them and they’re bloody amazing: see?

The Paper Island

Another highlight from Copenhagen was the last-day visit to The Paper Island – an old factory by the water dedicated to loads of different street food vendors. It was fantastic. Naturally, being fat bastards, we thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I have to confess it’s the first time I’ve ever been satisfied by so many different ethnicities at once. A particular highlight was a hot-dog where they just wouldn’t stop adding toppings – it barely managed to fit in my hands let alone my mouth. Thank Christ years of dedicated homosexuality has allowed my jaw to swing open like a ferry boarding door. Paul had nachos and a cheesecake which seemed to stir up a passion in him that I haven’t seen since we first started going out and he saw my wallet. It caused an argument because he wouldn’t let me have a piece. We adore places like this – not just because of the food, although that helps – but because it brings together such a fun hotchpotch of people and cultures. Everyone was having a good time, it wasn’t fussy, it wasn’t pretentious – it was a bit hipster, yes, but see I can forgive a waxed moustache when the person wearing it is feeding me deliciousness.

Marriage wrecking whore!

Duck you too!

Urgh! I’ll take the khlav kalash please.

Naturally, the whole place has now shut down (as of December 2017). I blame Paul: he went to use their toilet and was gone for fifteen minutes. I can’t imagine they ever managed to fix that.

Summing up

Copenhagen was beautiful – absolutely stunning. Until we went to Stockholm it was probably our most favourite destination of the year. We spent each day and night just wandering about, popping into bars, getting snacks from riverside cafés, coveting all the beautiful houses, making plans to buy and live on a boat, the works. The people are friendly, the streets are clean. It’s expensive, yes, but not prohibitively so.

Found our boat. Ah that’s a fib. If we had a boat we’d called it the Seamen Splattered Poop-Deck. Or the Cock-Tugger. 

There’s plenty of museums to feign an interest in, plenty of bars to embarrass yourself and uphold the shameful national stereotype of the Brit abroad. We were sad to leave, but glad we went – and we’ll be returning in 2018, as I’ve literally just booked the tickets. Hopefully we’ll have a better flight than our flight back to Edinburgh – turbulent the whole way and then a go-around landing. Not sure if you’re familiar with the term but it’s when the pilot aborts the landing and rockets back up into the sky. If, like me, you’re gazing out of the window wondering where on Earth the runway is only for the plane to roar back to life and ‘take off’, it’s certainly an interesting experience. If you’re the person who sat in seat 13F after me, I apologise profusely, but that wasn’t Nutella you had smeared on the back of your legs.

Oh: and a final thought. This was the first flight I’ve ever taken where I needed to ask for a seatbelt extension. An older easyJet plane meant two hours of the most uncomfortable flying I’ve ever experienced, wedged in as I was between Paul and the frame of the aeroplane. To easyJet’s credit, they were absolutely fantastic about the whole thing and very discreet, but it gave me significant food for thought.

Then I ate that food for thought, because I’m a greedy fat bastard.


We flew from Edinburgh to Copenhagen with easyJet, who operate flights almost every day. Great service as ever, and the flights cost around £100.

We stayed for several nights at the AC Hotel Bella Sky Copenhagen – perfect location for us – on the Metro system, lovely large rooms and great views.

Enjoy our holiday entries? Please do give us feedback or share or whatever, it’s what we live for!


chicken and broccoli

chicken and broccoli

to make sesame chicken and broccoli you will need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1 broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (do it seconds with one of these!)
  • 65ml light soy sauce
  • 1tsp sesame oil (2½ syns)
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds – we used a mixture of white and black (1x HeB)

Don’t waste your money on those sad, shrivelled water-filled chicken breasts you get at the supermarket. Treat yourself to nice, juicy plump ones that won’t shrink when you cook them from our fantastic Musclefood bundle! You can build your own pack so you choose only the stuff you really love! Find out more, including the syn values, on our Musclefood page.

We bought those dinosaur chopsticks for my nephew to help him get the hang of it. But then we kept them, because we’re a monster! You can buy them for a fiver here!

to make sesame chicken and broccoli you should:

  • fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil
  • simmer the broccoli florets for two minutes, then drain and set aside
  • heat a large frying pan (or wok) over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • add the chicken to the pan in a single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes, until one side is golden
  • stir fry for a few minutes more until the chicken is cooked through, then remove to a plate and set aside
  • add a bit more oil to the same pan and whack the heat up to high
  • add the spring onions and red pepper and stir fry for a few minutes until just starting to get black char-marks
  • reduce the heat back to medium-high and stir in the garlic
  • add the chicken back to the pan along with the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and sesame seeds
  • simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened
  • stir in the broccoli and serve over noodles or rice

Want more fakeaway goodies in your gob?

Enjoy!

J

cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken

Cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken – a doddle to make. We’ll get to the recipe in a wee while, but saying as it has been so long since we shot out a holiday entry, I think we’d better fire one out, no? Skip down to the holiday banner if you want that, and scroll right down to the recipe if you’re only here for the food, like a proper stereotypical chunker. You’ll come back to Copenhagen with us in a matter of minutes, but even before that we have a little update on our Christmas Card donation drive:

We’ve had to increase our target because we absolutely smashed the last one! If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or nonsense and only if you can afford to donate a couple of quid, please do! We have had so many people apologising for just donating a couple of quid – please don’t apologise – every last penny is gratefully received! If we get over our target I might make Paul do a salacious nude calendar with a carefully positioned Bonio biscuit covering his one-eyed spitter. Poor guy! But yes, every little bit makes a difference – and thank you all for donating so far! When you add Gift Aid we’re actually already over £3000! But enough about that, let’s ga terug naar Kopenhagen!

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

You may remember that the last time you joined us in Copenhagen, Paul had almost fallen in a river and laid an egg with sheer fright. I, being a supportive kind soul, had almost given myself a hernia from laughing so hard at his misfortune. Also, I, being a fat greedy bastard, scooped up that hard-boiled egg and had it for a snack later, delighting the other people in the Metro carriage with the smell of overcooked pocket-fresh egg. I like to make friends with the locals.

Paws for thought.

We walked along the riverside until the sound of Danish laughter was faint and less upsetting. Along the way we met a big shaggy dog tied up outside what looked like a little ramshackle caravan. Now, everyone knows you don’t approach dogs you don’t know unless you enjoy the risk of your throat being pulled through your neck by something cute and adorable. We, naturally, ignored that, and took a good ten minutes making a fuss out of our new friend before realising that the caravan was actually a riverside sauna! How did we know? Because we could see a man gazing adoringly through the window at us, steam billowing about him and a fair sweat on his face. Well, that, and the Danish word for sauna is…sauna. Don’t exactly need to be Raymond Babbitt to work that one out.

Though, I confess my disappointment that it isn’t Sphinctenmoistunen or something equally as delicious.

You may notice from previous blog entries that I barely need any encouragement to get nude in public and so, despite Paul’s groaning and heavy-handed watch checking, in we went. Paul’s not a fan of saunas: it’s not so much that he finds the nudity uncomfortable, it’s more that he’s 35% sweat at the best of time – he needs no encouragement to move it along). There was a tiny changing area where you’d struggle to change your mind let alone have two twenty-stone blokes take their clothes off but we managed it with only two accidental penetrations. In we went.

Almost immediately, out we came. I ought to explain – the chap who looked like a normal bearded chap through the fog of steam and a dirty window was merrily wanking away as we went in. Not even a hello or a few lascivious winks to break the ice, no, just furiously masturbating with everything on show. Perhaps he thought I needed somewhere to hang my coat. You must understand that we’re no prudes – if he’d looked like The Mountain from Games of Thrones we’d have welded the door shut and died a happy death – but we’ll be damned if we’re going to sit in a tiny cabin full of aerosol-jizz. I should have realised something was wrong when it smelled just like my room did when I was 14. We dressed hurriedly and scampered back out, with the folks on the riverbank all judging us for wanking off Santa. Superb!

Traumatised and in desperate need of something to take the taste out of our mouths, we decamped into the nearby Café Langebro for a strong beer and a long hard look at our lives. This was a great little pub, full of people who smiled at you when you walked in as though you were bringing great news as opposed to some of the pubs in Newcastle where they’re eyeing up how best to separate you from your kidneys. I never used to be one for daytime drinking but I feel I could really get a taste for it, not least because the beer softened the image of Wankin‘ St Nick in my head. We wandered out, up and over the bridge, with nowhere to go but a city to explore.

Turns out, quite luckily, that the same street lead directly to a corner of Tivoli Gardens – a theme park in the middle of the city. How marvellous! We totally forgot that we had a discount card and paid full price for immediate entry – we had seen Rick Stein flapping his wattle in here but a few weeks ago and were keen to retrace his footsteps, bounding as they’d doubtless be.

Just some of the fantastic gardens on display

Wheeeeee

Now, we both love rollercoasters – we spent a month in Florida riding them so much that I gave myself heart arrhythmia and almost died on the flight home. I say almost died, I experienced a slight panic attack and tipped my gin and tonic over, but let’s not labour over the details. However, we have aged and spread like a melted candle, and now we have to consider not only whether our creaking bodies can take it, but can we actually fit in the seats? It’s always been a phobia of mine that I’ll get to the front of the queue only for some hairy-lipped streak of acne and malice to look at me, taking in my comprehensive tits and expansive belly, and refuse me entry. It hasn’t happened before, thank the Lord, but it’s been certainly been close, with me having to play Fatris when it came to slotting all my squashy body parts into one small bucket seat.

On top of that I have ear problems which mean I get dizzy from peeling the lid off a pot of yoghurt let alone hurtling through the air at 100mph, Paul has a spine made out of damp crepe paper, there’s a strong chance that I’ll be slapped in the face by Paul’s boobs as we go around a loop and, as I mentioned, I have a dodgy heart. In all, they might as well abbreviate those long health warnings at the front of the ride and just put ‘No, Paul and James, you can sit on the wooden bench outside and eat doughnuts, you horrendous beasts’.

Naturally, we ignored the warnings, and squeezed onto most things. I want to give a special mention to the Rutschebanan, one of the world’s oldest wooden rollercoasters. Nestled at the back of the park, it promises thrills, spills and catastrophic damage to your spine. Ancient, wooden, ridden by hundreds of thousands of men over the years and more than capable of making children scream in terror, Paul’s mother has never ridden this rollercoaster. It even comes with its own brakes-man, who has to manually apply the brakes on certain stretches to make sure the whole thing doesn’t come hurtling off the tracks. Fun!

You’re supposed to sit two abreast in the little carriages but there was absolutely bot-all chance that was going to happen – the coaster shook and rattled that much that there was a serious risk of us joining together like wax in a lava-lamp and me being destined to spend my life with my face joined horrendously close to Paul’s arse. We hopped in, pushing small children out of the way and taking one carriage each, and off we went. I tried taking a video but it’s just a blur of jiggling flesh and me shrieking – just like our wedding – so here’s one for you to get your own idea:

Great fun, but let me tell you – you feel every single bump and creak of that coaster. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t swallow a filling – and I didn’t have any to begin with.

With our bones roughly 10cm away from where they should be in our bodies, we slithered over to the nearby Paafuglen restaurant – handy timing, because I was absolutely fuglen starvin‘. We were seated after about eighteen hours – the place was absolutely rammed with elderly folk taking their sweet time gumming the pickled herring, but eventually they found us a seat right at the back. That’s fine, once I have food put in front of me, I don’t look back up until it’s gone. Years and years of Paul feigning something interesting before stealing my food as I gaze in the opposition direction has taught me to be cautious. The greedy sod.

Our waitress gave us a menu and then clocked off for the day. I’m not kidding – we sat there with hungry little bellies and pleading eyes – but she never appeared again. Perhaps she heard our British accents and assumed there would be no tip, I don’t know. How wrong she was – I always like to touch their arm as I leave and say ‘Jesus saves’. Almost thirty minutes passed (with plenty of reserved Britishness: “they’ll be here soon”, “let’s give it one more minute”, “let’s just chew open a vein whilst we wait”) before another waitress finally noticed that Paul had doused himself in the paraffin from the little lantern on the table and was about to set himself aflame in hungry protest. We ordered.

Well, attempted to. Copenhagen is famous in food circles (honestly, it is: we get drunken memos from Delia all the time. I jest, although technically Paul is a food circle, given he’s perfectly spherical) for Smørrebrød (pronounced: I’m sorry, do you speak English?). Smørrebrød is the concept of open sandwiches served on rye bread and they are genuinely one of my favourite things. I adore sandwiches – you could give me an urgent and terminal medical diagnosis sandwiched between two slices of lavishly-buttered bread and I’d remain cheerful.

It’s not like sandwiches in the UK, either. You get a vast mixture of wonderful toppings and exciting flavours and it’s just brilliant. There are entire shops devoted to it – windows packed full of sandwiches topped with meats and cheeses and salads and, eventually, my saliva, dribbling on the window as I am wont to do. Paul and I could easily move to Copenhagen and open such a shop (calling it Yeast Infection, naturally) and live out our Autumn years never tiring of the combinations on offer. I don’t normally recommend other food blogs because, well, they’re usually boring, but I can’t get enough of the ideas on The Danish Sandwich. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean. http://www.danishsandwich.com/

Anyway, I digress. We had decided that we ought to try a couple of these open sandwiches each – we’re big lads, we can handle such extravagance and remember, they’re open sandwiches so you only get one slice of rye bread to barely digest. However, the waitress disagreed with our approach. We spoke our order slowly and with a game attempt at Danish but each time we reached sandwich number three and four she would cross sandwich number one and two off her pad. Maybe she thought we were fat enough or that such decadence was unbecoming but try as we might, we could not convey the fact we wanted to try a range of smørrebrød to her without causing her to frown and sweat as though under intense interrogation. Had I thought ahead I could have prepared a Powerpoint presentation or a business case. After a good five minutes of harsh glottal stops and stuttering we seemed to finally reach agreement and she toddled off. Naturally, I’d forgotten to ask for more water, but I didn’t dare call her back lest she decided we were simple troublemakers and showed us the door.

Our sandwiches arrived shortly afterwards:

Nom nom nom. Urgh, I’m sorry

You’ll notice there’s only two plates. Our order hasn’t so much been lost in translation as strangled to death with good intentions. Nevermind – being brave, fearless tourists we powered through and thoroughly enjoyed the pork belly (me) and chicken salad (Paul) and they were absolutely delicious. The Danish have a wonderful proclivity for adding pickled vegetables to their dishes and it really makes everything come alive – quite a smart way of getting your ‘speed’ food in too by sousing everything in vinegar. I’d suggest it to Mags but she never returns my calls. We paid our bill and left content, but still faintly hungry. Have no fear: we rounded a corner to find an ice-cream stand and each enjoyed a five-scoop bowl which settled the stomach just enough to ease us gently into hyperglycaemia.

The rest of the day was spent drifting around Tivoli Gardens, eating things that we shouldn’t and getting sticky fingerprints on all the rides. It was great: like being 13 (stone) all over again. With sluggishly-beating hearts we left and decided to walk back to the Metro station, with the intention of taking a nap and then heading back out in the evening. We managed four hundred yards before happening across the nearby Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, a museum dedicated to the largest collection of Ancient Mediterranean art in all of Northern Europe. My excitement knew no bounds. This was me:

Quite

I’ve explained before: I’m a hopeless philistine – I know I should walk around deep in thought and reverie in an art gallery, but the only surprised gasps I let out are when my shin-splints play up. Don’t get me wrong, readers – there were some lovely paintings and cracking pots, but I was more taken by the Blockbusters gargoyles on the wall and this peculiar oil painting which seemed to capture exactly my mood.

Sigh

There was a very pleasant sub-tropical garden dot in the middle of the museum which afforded two things: the chance to rest and the chance to be absolutely horrified by this:

Give me milk!

I mean, no. Babies are creepy enough at the best of times, but crawling on a body like maggots on a corpse? Hell no. You better believe I saw that when I shut my eyes that night in bed. Luckily, I’d have a chance to remonstrate with the Carlsberg family the nvery next day, and that’s where we will leave our tale for now.

Enjoy our holiday entries? Please do give us feedback or share or whatever, it’s what we live for!


stuffed chicken
stuffed chicken

to make cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1½ peppers (we used ½ red, ½ orange and ½ green), finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 80g reduced fat cheddar (2x HeA), grated
  • 110g light Philadelphia (1x HeA)
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin (or garam masala)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Honestly, you’ll never do better than the chicken deals we have – you’ll want big ‘uns for this, we have four deals AND there’s a pack for every budget!

Chips: Actifry. Teaspoon of oil. Tablespoon of worcestershire sauce. You’ll never look back – and they’re cheap on Amazon at the moment.

to make cheesy creamy fajita stuffed chicken you should:

  • spray a large frying pan with a little oil over a medium-high heat
  • add the diced peppers and onions to the pan and cook until softened and the edges are just starting to brown, stirring occasionally
  • tip the mixture into a bowl and add the cheddar and Phildelphia, and mix well
  • meanwhile, in a large bowl sprinkle the chili powder, cumin and garlic powder over the chicken breasts and tumble around until well coated
  • cut a hilarious looking gash into the side of each one, getting a big a space as you can but being careful not to slice all the way through
  • using a teaspoon, spoon the cheesy mixture into each chicken breast, stuffing it well but not overdoing it. don’t worry if you have some leftover mixture
  • next, add a little more oil to the frying pan and put back over a medium-high heat
  • carefully lay the chicken breasts in the pan and cook for 8-10 minutes each side – flip it gently so you don’t squash it, and don’t worry if a little mixture dribbles out
  • serve!

Howzat for a winner? Want more? Click below to get even more goodies!

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creamy chicken and vegetable soup

Creamy chicken and vegetable soup – well, actually, it’s thick enough to almost class as a stew, but you know sometimes you just want a bowl of chicken soup to put hairs on your chest and make yourself feel better? This is that dish. Easy to make, actually tastes decent and rammed full of vegetables to boot. What more could you want? But first, the final part in our Benidorm story – and thank goodness, because boy has this horse been flogged. I’d apologise, but we get plenty of lovely messages from folk who seem to adore our holiday stories, so…if you’re not one of them, click on the shortcut button of the (deep breath) ELDERLY BEWHISKERED CRONE DRESSED IN PEASANT’S CLOTHING WITH A SAGGY OLD ASS to go straight to the recipe. We’ll stay here and not gossip about you, promise.

Pfft. Right one wasn’t she, bet she buys her shoes from the market. Tsk. Right, back to the sun for one final trip…

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 | click here for part six | click here for part seven

Part 8! We didn’t think it would take this long to reach climax, but well, it’s been a long week, and there’s worry at work, and sometimes he’s just not that into you. But hey, here we are. Now, rather than bore you with every tiny detail, I’ll sum up the end of the holiday in three key stages. Enjoy! But before we get started, just a quick video to get you slick in the nethers…

Final night

The final night was a long, drawn-out evening of gentle drinking and gambolling about. Nothing much of note save for the fact that Paul decided he had heartburn – we spent around an hour trying to find somewhere that sold El Gaviscon but it wasn’t to be. Don’t worry readers, he spotted a frozen yoghurt shop and decided that this was essentially the same thing as a glass of cool milk. I wasn’t so sure, but let me tell you how amazingly brave he was, choking back his 500ml of frozen yoghurt covered in brownie bites, caramel, Haribo sweets, marshmallow, flake bits, Rolos and chocolate sauce. It’s funny, his heartburn seemed to just melt away with this concoction. Isn’t he a trooper? Because I’m trying to be good I settled for some passion-fruit flavoured yoghurt that was as lurid as a hangover piss, but surprisingly tasty. Paul, still a bit sore from our bickering earlier in the day, wouldn’t share. I’m sure you can agree he’s a poor sport.

Our final meal was in the Italian Garden (we had given up trying to find a decent ‘local’ restaurant at this point, and our cankles were protesting at the thought of mincing over to the Old Town). Paul chose the place because he wanted some stodgy pasta to weigh down the sugar-bomb in his stomach. I agreed with his choice because the waiter was the spit of Gianno d’Marco from nineties Eastenders, who had been the cause of many a teenage erection back in my formative years. I can’t write anything exciting about the food other to say that the chef must have had an almighty tremor – I ordered an exotic mushroom salad and it was positively floating on balsamic vinegar to the point where it was like looking at a mirage of Paul through the vinegar fumes. Paul had pasta. Paul always has pasta and then complains he’s too full and can’t walk. Ten years together and he’s never left a meal without clutching at his belly and/or chest and graphically telling me how quickly he expects to see his dinner again. You can’t buy that sort of class, can you? We paid up, me personally thanking the waiter – he thought I’d left a massive tip but I had to explain that my phone number. He’s never called. Bastard.

Lockdown

Anyway, poor Paul did have to waddle because we were straight over to Lockdown, Benidorm’s Premier Escape Room. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely sure there’s hundred of rooms in Benidorm where desperate young men and women fight to escape before the hour is up, but that’s the consequences of cheap drinks and easy living. We turned up fashionably early which led to us having to wait in the lobby. That would have been fine but we thought we had it to ourselves and were merrily shrieking and clarting about when some poor chap popped his head up from behind the counter where he’d been fiddling with the computer. Ah well. He introduced us into the room – it took us both a while to tear ourselves away from his delicate facial hair and big kind eyes – and left us to it.

The room was Cold War themed, with the curious task of defusing a nuclear bomb thrown in for good measure. It was brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! No point in giving you any spoilers but it was possibly the most interactive one we’ve done so far – tonnes of hidden secrets, attention to detail and hell, even a chance to dress up. What more could a lad want? Whenever we were stuck the phone would ring – we were supposed to reply with a codeword when he spoke but I was lost in a moment and asked ‘what was he wearing’. Paul took the phone and steered us to victory!

I say this each and every time – if you have never done an escape room, get one booked! They’re a great way to spend an hour and as they get more and more popular, the standards keep climbing. Do it!

With that done, we walked back to the hotel, took a drink up to the room and watched the streets hustle and bustle below. It was a great end to the holiday that we thought we’d never want to begin.

Return

Our flight back to Newcastle was at the altogether unseemly hour of 8.30am, which meant having to get up at around 4am to allow enough time to shave, shit, shower, get to the airport, learn how to fly and stand in for the pilot. I can’t deal with 4am: I look like I died four days previously and someone’s just pulled me out of the morgue. I may have told the receptionist who rang me at 3.50am with a wake-up call to fuck right off in my sleep-addled state. I later apologised. I can’t rely on Paul to get us up – he’s constantly saying ‘ten more minutes’ and going straight back to sleep. Our house could be a raging inferno and he’d still be lying in bed telling the firemen he can’t get up until he’d done his ‘stretches’. Pfft. The only thing belonging to Paul that stretches in the morning is his arsehole, and that’s only to release eight hours of shitgas that’s been building up through the night. I’m thinking about seeing if he can have a pilot light fitted on his taint – I can’t remember the last time I woke up not dry-heaving into my pillow.

Regardless, we were out of the hotel in enough time to sit and wait for our ‘private transfer’ back to the airport, which turned up late and in the sort of car you see rotting in fields near illegal caravan parks. We climbed in – gingerly, we didn’t want to disturb his rust collection – and he shot off like we were slingshotting round the moon. Three minutes later we stopped to let in a lovely couple from a less salubrious hotel and I’m going to tell you something now – if you’re a smoker and you’re one of those people who save half your cigarette in your packet for later – you need to know that you absolutely honk. There’s no two ways about it – I can smile politely through most things, but that smell, no way. Especially when you’re hacking away spreading it all around the taxi like a cloud of rancidness.

That was the least of my concerns, anyway – the driver, clearly just passed his test with the Henri Paul School of Motoring, drove us to that airport as though his life depending on us getting there before the sun came up. Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate a fast driver and clearly he wanted to get us to the airport, but at the same time, I’d prefer not to fly home scraped into a strawberry jam pot. Twice I genuinely thought we were about to crash – first he overtook another speeding taxi with about four inches to spare, then he wandered across two lanes of traffic and the hard shoulder whilst he fiddled about with his phone, presumably trying to work out the necessary mph for take-off. I snuck a glance at Paul who was absolutely ashen-faced and then resumed the task of clinging onto the back-seat using the full suction of my own sphincter. I saw death that warm Spanish dawn, and he wears a soiled Benidorm or Bust t-shirt. We gave him a tip (“slow the fuck down!” – hello?) and cleared the area before our taxi companion had a chance to light up the remnant of her stinking tab.

What is there left to say? Our flight back was entirely uneventful – clearly the Spanish sun had calmed the lungs of most of the passengers as, unlike the flight in, it was relatively free of phlegmy coughing. One thing: do Ryanair switch the seatbelt sign on more often than other flights? I was bursting for a piss but every time I stood up for the bog, on came the light – felt like I was doing the hokey-cokey with my bladder. Either they were desperate to clear the aisle to make sure they could peddle their chotchkies and scratchcards or the pilot was a bastard, because that flight was as smooth as a vaselined otter. We landed in a sea of grey clouds and disembarked to a mist of blue smoke as the brethren of the blackened lung lit up, completely ignoring the no-smoking rules. Cases retrieved we made our way home and that’s it, readers – Benidorm done. Are you relieved? Have we left you satisfied and smiling? We always do.

Thoughts

I’m holding my hands up. As I touched upon in part one, we could not have been more wrong about Benidorm. We thought we’d absolutely hate it – that it would be full of rough people shouting incoherently and rustling in their shellsuits. Don’t get me wrong: it was, but by god it was a fun holiday. Doesn’t matter how late we were out or how spit-and-sawdust the pubs we were in, everyone has having a good time, there was no bother, no trouble. The only continuous loud noise I can remember was one of laughter. You don’t go to Benidorm to stroke your chinny-chin-chin at the museums and have yourself an egg-white omelette as you jill yourself off over the Observer, you go for a drink and the company. You’re not going to get Michelin food – hell, you’re hard pushed to find anything you wouldn’t find in the reduced bin at Farmfoods for the most part – but sometimes you need a bit of junk stodge food to fill your hole. There’s lovely parts that we left unexplored – we can always go back, and if we don’t, I’m sure there’ll be a Channel 5 shockumentary on it soon enough. Our trip to Guadalest provided a bit of proper Spain and with the addition of a hire car, we could have seen so much more. Don’t let this blog put you off going – we deliberately did the ‘Benidorm’ experience!

Would I recommend it as a holiday? If you’ve got no airs and graces – definitely. If you’re as common as muck but you consider yourself fancy because you buy name-brand baked beans and aren’t paying off your TV in weekly instalments, then also recommend. If you’re a genuine snob then nah, probably not. It is, after all, a resort where someone has made a career popping things out of her muff.

Still, if that’s good enough for Kate Middleton…


Please remember to leave feedback on the holiday entries: we crave your attention!


Let’s do this thick chicken and vegetable soup, then. You can leave out the pasta if you like, it makes it super-thick, but really boosts the meal. The recipe we based this on is here! Please don’t be put off by the look of this, it tastes grand!


chicken and vegetable soup

to make creamy chicken and vegetable soup, you’ll need:

  • four big handfuls of shredded/chopped chicken – use leftovers from a roast, or follow our recipe here to slow cook / Instant pot it
  • two cloves of garlic, minced (save your fingers with one of these)
  • two large chopped onions
  • one large green pepper
  • one large red pepper
  • 1 stick of celery
  • one large leek
  • two large carrots cut into thin matchsticks, or sliced thinly
  • 1.25l of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp of hot sauce (google it, you can buy it in any supermarket, or leave it out)
  • half a teaspoon of dark soy sauce
  • one big bag of spinach
  • a couple of ‘nests’ of dried egg noodles
  • 220g of Philadelphia Lightest (2xHEA)

Damn, this is simple – add whatever veg you want, change it out, do what you like! Also, if you’re planning on stocking up on chicken, don’t forget you can build your own hampers with Musclefood now – so many chicken deals, just look!

to make creamy chicken and vegetable soup, you should:

  • super easy – prepare all of your vegetables (bar the spinach) by chopping them nice and small and chuck them in a big pan with some spray olive oil and sweat everything down until softened with the garlic
  • chuck in the soy sauce, hot sauce and stock and simmer for a good forty minutes until the vegetables are soft, I went for thirty minutes
  • add the spinach and pop the lid back on until everything has wilted down – then add the chicken and noodles (break them up a bit) and heat through until the noodles are softened
  • before serving, stir the Philadelphia in – make sure you stir it until it has completely absorbed into the sauce, then serve!

How easy. JUST LIKE YOU! Want more recipes?

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Cheers!

J

creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle

Creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle! Right – no farting about because it’s a long entry tonight! So, if you can’t be arsed to read, just click here and it’ll whizz you straight to the recipe. No sarky comments this time!

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 | click here for part six

I can’t quite believe we’re on part seven – I’m sorry if you’re not a fan of the holiday entries. When Paul first suggested Benidorm I thought the only thing I’d get from it was a urine infection and fleas, but clearly I had a much better holiday than I first expected! When you last left us we had deliberately gassed an old lady, I’d set my face on fire and we’d seen a Meat Loaf tribute act more Martin Mull than Marvin Lee. Think about it, that works. In this, our penultimate entry, we take a trip out.

Guadalest

After so many hours of being around braying English folk and all that that entails we decided we absolutely must try and get out of the town and go somewhere more…Spanish. A quick nose on Tripadvisor for places reachable by bus (we couldn’t hire a car because guess who had left the documents at home?) turned up Guadalest, a pretty village about forty minutes away. There was one bus there and one bus back – and this story isn’t going to go the way you might be expecting. We turned up at the bus stop nice and promptly in the morning, awaiting our carriage through the mountains. The bus turned up late, with an exasperated looking driver sat in front of what looked like 200 old folk squeezed behind him. If he had braked hard enough I reckon they would have all melded into one another, like that bit in Terminator 2 when the evil Terminator gets obliterated into pools of mercury, only to reform. Yeah, imagine that, only with the addition of 800 barely-sucked Murray Mints scattered about. We had more chance of getting on the Mayflower than we did this bus. Perhaps that’s for the best: long-time readers may recall the last time we went on a coach-trip, it didn’t go well. So we elected for a taxi which didn’t so much as drive us to the village as warp space and time to get us there before I’d even had a chance to say ‘how much, guv’nor’ in broken Spanish. We were going that fast it was like looking at a watercolour through the windscreen. However, once we stopped…

Not a SKOL ashtray in sight.

Just out of shot is a big old dam. You may remember I’m scared of dams. I know, I’m awfully brave.

Anyway, what treasures did Guadalest have clutched to her busom? Quite a lot, actually, although you wouldn’t spend the summer there. I reckon you’d die of boredom within two days. But for a day out, there was plenty. We ambled around the streets, buying trinkets from little shops, cooing at the pretty houses and desperately pleased that we had arrived before the Saga-louts, who were but a distant mumbling on the horizon. First on the tour was Museo de Microminiaturas, a charming wee museum which gave you the opportunity to gaze in wonder down a microscope lens at some stunning vista depicted on a grain of rice. The Spanish lady behind the counter laughed politely when I said I was experienced in finding tiny pleasures in the dark, but I could tell we’d never speak again. We walked around earnestly at first, oohing and aahing at a village carved into a flea, or a woman with her fanny out balanced on the head of a match, but I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult to remain enthralled by the eighth time you’ve rounded a corner only to see another row of magnifying glasses in front of you. The artist, Manuel Ussà, must have been a saucy bugger mind – I’ve never seen so many spread-eagled forms, even in miniature format. We didn’t want to look boorish by nicking out after five minutes so we stretched out our admiration for a good twenty minutes, before the deafening sound of dentures being sucked landed upon us and the elderly had arrived to serve as a distraction. We slipped out.

See?

Something familiar about this…

After a few minutes more climbing the stairs of the town and gasping theatrically into our sleeves we happened across another museum, the Museo Micro-Gigante. This sounds more like my cup of tea, the big wind-socked size queen that I am. We hastened indoors, paid for our tickets and were ushered past the entrance curtain…into a room full of magnifying glasses. It was another museum of miniatures.

Why? What town needs two museums dedicated to the world of the microscopic? Are they rivals? Do they hate each other? Do you reckon it might boil over one day and one of the owners will nip into the other museum and throw a cup of boiling water over their exhibits, cooking the rice and bankrupting them? Who knows. We again feigned interest in teensy-tiny things, me drawing on my year long experience of dating someone with a penis like a cat’s nipple*, and wandered about. Once we were sure we weren’t being watched, we ran upstairs, took a picture with the giant horse (hence the Gigante part of the name) and ran straight back out.

Oh I say!

 

*You might think I’m harsh drawing attention to my ex’s tiny willy, but he was an absolute bellend. A horrid, mean bellend. You don’t need a big knob to make someone happy, but it sure helps act as a distraction when you’ve got a personality like a blown-out arsehole.

By this time Paul was hungry – it had been at least two hours since he’d doubled his weight – and so we set about finding somewhere for a bit of lunch. Guadalest isn’t quite awash with beautiful places to eat but we did manage to find a lovely little café in the main square – even if it did have plastic chairs that creaked ominously underarse. Paul ordered some peri-peri chicken and I went for the healthy choice of a chef’s salad. His looked delicious – good quality chicken, well spiced and grilled to perfection. Mine looked like the little polystyrene tub of salad you get with your Chinese takeaway that sits and sweats under your chow mein. I’d have gained more nutrition from eating the napkin. It really annoys me that people can’t make a decent salad – iceberg lettuce belongs in nothing at all, the tuna was tinned and sweaty and the tomatoes, well, if you can’t grow a decent tomato in sunny Spain then frankly, you don’t deserve to serve lunch to the public. What makes this all the more offensive to me were the two asparagus stalks that had been slapped on the top – grey, thin and slimy. It was like having Voldemort’s cock pressed on my salad.

Naturally when the owner came around we were full of compliments and good cheer and ‘oh we’ve never had better!’, despite the fact I’d tipped most of my salad into the carrier bag we were carrying our trinkets in. Even now my Guadalest fridge magnet smells of onions and disappointment. We left a tip regardless because we’re nice like that.

Squint.

Tasteful!

A trip around the castle followed, then more bric-a-brac shopping (shown above) (I’m sorry, I really am, but if you’re wondering which lout rearranged the lovely letter-tiles you use to make up your house name into ‘El Homo’, it was I) and then onto the final museum – the Museo de Saleros y Pimenteros. That’s the museum of salt and pepper shakers, for the uncultured amongst you. I mean, really. A museum dedicated to some poor sap who decided to start collecting salt and pepper shakers and wasn’t able to tell her friends to stop bloody giving them to her for Christmas. I’m underselling it – this pepper collection was not to be sneezed at.

Ah bugger off.

We went inside and spoke to a charming woman who seemed positively delighted to see us. I can’t imagine there’s many visitors, to be honest, but that’s a great shame because it was actually very, very interesting! Here me out, won’t you – there’s well over 20,000 pairs of shakers in here, in every conceivable forms. They’re separated out first into theme and then into colour and the whole effect is just great – a real treat for the eyes. There’s not much to read (how many words can be said about condiment containers?) but your eyes are drawn to all sorts of oddities – shakers shaped like Diana and Charles, two little penis-shaped shakers (you have to shake the salt for a good five minutes but then poof, you get a proper spurt of salt for your efforts) and my favourite, two big bears cuddling in the corner. There’s something heart-warming about collections like this – your first thought is why bother, but then the real question is – why not? Better than collecting bodies in a cellar.

My favourite picture of the holiday.

Closer.

Closer still.

As we had the place to ourselves (I imagine we had just missed the morning rush which must surely have been like Black Friday at Brighthouse) we were able to devise a game where one of us would nip around the corner, take a picture of a random shaker and then task the other with finding it. It was all very Famous 5 until Paul bent down to snap a photo and broke wind with possibly the loudest fart I’ve ever heard him do. I’m surprised the curator didn’t rush in sure that the shelves had collapsed. Mortified – as they would have doubtless heard this in Catalonia never mind the entrance lobby – we made a dash for the exit, only to be stopped by the sweet-faced old lady owner who wanted to know what we thought. We didn’t want to give her short shrift but I was also conscious of the fact that there was a cloud of effluence billowing out from under the exit door and had she smelled it, it could have finished her off. So, I feigned being deaf. I know that’s dreadful but it works – I pointed out my ears and made some complicated hand gestures which I hoped at least looked like we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It worked, mind – she gave us a beatific smile as we left.

We ducked into a church to rest our ankles and have a look around. The statues were a little…unique.

Poutin’ for Jesus – we also put out a prayer that whatever cruel curse that gave Paul a tiny desktop fan of a right ear would soon be lifted.

Let’s hear it for Mary – she’s got one eye on your sins, the other eye on the other side of the room.

Ah yes, The Slutty Shepherd and his Doughnut Carrying Dog     

We slipped out when the nuns came in to strike us down.

It was almost time for the return bus back to Benidorm and, aware of the fact we could easily skittle a few old biddies out of the way to ensure a seat on the bus, we wandered over to the bus-stop. However: no such luck. All those dear folk on the outbound bus were dutifully waiting in one bluey-grey mass, waiting to board. I suppose what comes up a mountain must come down. We were stuck: no obvious place to call for a taxi, no payphones, even Google couldn’t assist. Bugger. We walked around bickering in that passive-aggressive ‘well I knew we should have gone to Portugal’ way of ours until Paul spotted two stations of relief – a public toilet (I was bursting) and a tourist information centre, which, against all odds, was open. We asked for a taxi and he sat us outside in the sun to wait.

Aware that the taxi was coming all the way from Benidorm and thus we were in for a long wait, I diverted myself to the public toilet to while away the time dropping off my dinner. I was met outside by the type of bloke you see in local newspapers pointing furiously at leaves in his garden whilst his wife considers her life-choices in the background. A tedious, boring fart. He saw me heading over and I swear his eyes lit up with eagerness at the sight of someone fresh to talk to. His opening line was: “I’VE just been in there and it ABSOLUTELY stinks”. I applauded him on a job well done and told him to try the Salt and Pepper Museum if he fancies the smell of a lingering shit. I went inside and crashed the lock across, making sure to keep my foot pressed against the door for good measure. It did smell, but hey, it’s a toilet, not the Tom Ford counter, and I’m not dabbing the toilet water behind my ears so let’s crack on. Ten minutes later I emerged (it was a slow mover up the charts) only to find he had waited for me outside. He picked up the conversation as though I’d merely blinked out of existence for a moment, rather than disappeared  a dump. “APPARENTLY IT’S THE DRAINAGE SYSTEM” he bellowed at me, as though I’d spent the last ten minutes in the lavatory staring mystified at the u-bend. I had no idea how to react, so I nodded politely and made to cross the car-park to the relative safety of Paul, who I could see chuckling away to himself.

Thankfully, the guy didn’t follow me, but did leave a final exclamation ringing around my ears that “IT’S BECAUSE we’re SO HIGH UP, SEE”. I waved him away. It begs a bigger question, however – he was still hanging around outside the toilet twenty minutes later when our taxi arrived. Either his wife had an awful lot of meat and was struggling in the ladies or he was absolutely mental. There was no suggestion that he was cottaging or being inappropriate, but what other explanation could there be? Even as our taxi pulled away he was staring at the toilet door with a concerned look. I like to think he’s there even now, yelling about poo and the standards of the toilet paper.

That was Guadalest. Now, onto the food.

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Double dip time!





to make creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle you will need:

Remember, you can leave out the booze if you like, but it adds a certain tang! Oh and this serves 2 – two very big-fatty portions!

to make creamy tequila chicken tagliatelle you should:

  • add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the garlic and jalapeños and cook for a few minutes
  • add the chicken stock, tequila and lime juice, whack the heat up a little and cook until it’s reduced a bit glaze-like
  • remove from the pan and leave to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the philadelphia, quark and soy sauce – then keep aside
  • now is a good time to bring a big pan of water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle
  • in another pan (or under the grill if you prefer) add a little oil and add the chicken breasts
  • sprinkle over the salt and pepper and cook over a medium-high heat for about 4 minutes each side or until cooked through
  • put the chicken on a plate and add the peppers and onion to the empty pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring every now and again
  • chop the chicken into 1″ cubes and add back into the pan with the onions and peppers
  • give a good stir, cook for a minute or two and then add the cheese sauce
  • mix well and add the drained pasta, and mix again
  • eat

Still not satisfied? Don’t worry – we’ve got tonnes of other recipes you can try. Just click one of the buttons below to find more!

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J

double-dip special: baba ganoush and minty beetroot raita

Raita? I barely knew ‘er! Oh I know, but listen, it’s been so long. Forgive a fat man his nonsense. Here for the two dips? Quite rightly, they’re stunning. A big complaint of Slimming World is that it’s hard to find a decent dip or snack – now that we’ve discovered Broghies we’re snacking for England. The recipes are right down below the holiday entry but, as I’m feeling generous, if you want the food with none of my nonsense, just click the shortcut button below. Yes: just click on the SCALY OLD TROUT and you’re good to go.

Thank god they’ve left. All fur coat and no knickers, that one. For the rest of you, take my sweaty hand and we’ll skip back to Benidorm…

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

Not doing well with this ‘just the important bits’, am I? Ah well. We walked along the seafront and despaired at the sight of so many bright blue sun-loungers with bright pink English folk perched on them, merrily burning away. You couldn’t have set down a handkerchief amongst the people, let alone a beach towel, and oh god, the noise. It’s a bad job when you can’t hear the crashing sea over the sound of 5,000 disparate accents all bellowing at their triple-named snaggletoothed crotch-fruit to GET OUTTA FAAAACKIN’ SUN. It would be more relaxing trying to sunbathe on the wing of a crashing jumbo jet. We moved on.

I felt like James Cook gazing upon the unspoilt sands of Australia.

Eventually we reached what I think was the Old Town – lots of quaint streets to tumble about in, some interesting shops, some reasonable places to eat. We did spend a pleasant couple of hours here, not quite managing to fall in love enough to spend any money, when we decided to go for tapas. We’d have a couple of places recommended so off we trotted.

The first place we chose was charming on the outside. We were promptly seated by a pleasant looking waiter who was the double of Super Mario and had the water poured and the bread basket on the table before I’d even had a chance to look at the menu, tuck the tablecloth into my trousers and scatter the salt around. When the menu did arrive we were aghast. Now, before you all think we’re uncultured swines who don’t try local food or unusual tastes, just google what a rimjob is and come back to me. However, this menu was full of all sorts of horrendous sounding dishes, all of which sounded like the outcome of blending the Saw franchise with Watership Down. So many severed bits of animal served up like the top prize on Bullseye. Paul actually turned green, which at least made for a pleasant contrast against his reddened neck. We had to think fast (well, one of us certainly did – I’m not saying Paul’s slow but in his mind he was still coming through passport control back at the airport) so I told Paul to start fanning his face theatrically as if to feign feeling faint.

Of course, he goes full ham, giving it his all, rolling his eyes in his head, slack jaw opened, wafting his face with the menu, looking all the while like a Victorian maid who has stumbled across a passionate bout of illicit sex. If we’d had a few minutes more I’m sure he’d have slumped to the floor with a collapsed lung and started frothing at the mouth. I kicked him under the table to calm himself down when the waiter came back for our order. Me, in a language closer to Gujarati than A-level Spanish, explained that my partner was feeling unwell and we’d need to move on. The waiter, to his credit and my shame, couldn’t have been lovelier, his big brown eyes full of concern. I slipped him a ten euro note to pay for the water and we sloped off, Paul inexplicably limping. I told him round the corner that I was aiming for dicky-belly as opposed to a full debilitating haemorrhagic stroke.

Now, what to do? We were still hungry – this wouldn’t normally have been a problem but the second place on our list was nearby – literally over the other side of the wee square the first restaurant was one. We’d been told by all and sundry that this was the place to get heavenly tapas, couldn’t miss it, best in the country, blah blah blah. Being easily led, we had to go there, which immediately set us off on a game of having to sneak into another restaurant without the kind-eyed waiter from the previous debacle seeing us and knowing Paul’s illness was a sham. I couldn’t bear to see the hurt crack across his face when he realised our cruel deception.

This second place seemed a lot more informal and was clearly very popular, meaning we were forced to sit outside. I positioned Paul in the shadows in such a way that had the waiter from over the square glanced over, he might have reasonably assumed I was eating lunch with the ghost of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. To make up for his shite acting I sent him in to order for us. He came back with two diet cokes and a beaming smile – he’d managed to order us tapas without any problems at all. Attaboy.

No sooner had he sat down with a ‘fat man sigh’ than the waiter came out – yet another bronzed god whose eyes screamed sex but his face screamed ‘ripped off for a Visa story in Take a Break’. Hmm.  There must be a factory where these Spanish studmuffins are pumped out on a conveyor belt – if anyone has the address, please let me know so I can volunteer myself as a loading dock. Anyway, he popped a wee plate in front of us with two tiny discs of bread and a bit of grey meat on it. An excellent, if unidentifiable start. Down the hatch it went – couldn’t tell you what meat it was but it was juicy enough. Paul enjoyed his morsel very much and we were looking forward to a tasty range of tapas brought to us one by one to sample. You know where this is going, don’t you?

Yes, we sat there for a full thirty minutes, sipping our flat coke and staring sadly into the kitchen, where no-one met our gaze. Turns out Paul hadn’t actually ordered us tapas, as such, but rather, just one. A tapa, if you will. When we eventually gave up I asked him if he’d paid and he confirmed that he had indeed done so and how remarkably cheap it had been – less than five euros, including drinks! You know when you look at someone with such incredulity that your furrowed brows almost come off your head? That was me. In an hour we’d managed a disc of bread, a gulp of water and one cube of mystery meat. We gave up, trundled off back down the streets, but not before the first waiter gave us a proper look of ‘told you so, you limey bastards’.

We moved on. I can’t remember where we did end up eating – apologies – but it was very good and we had more than enough to fill us, leaving plates and boards and crumbs strewn extravagantly over our table. The rest of the afternoon was spent mooching about – we headed towards where the gay bear bar was, but they’d shut up shop. Probably seen how much food we’d put away and pulled the shutters down lest we came in and snapped their sling.  Bastards. By god there were some rough hotels around this area, mind – I especially liked this hotel with a pair of shitty drawers strewn over their welcome sign…

Classy!

Now listen, it wouldn’t be terrifically exciting to describe the fact we wandered around shopping, then went back to the hotel to splash about in the pool and watch Tipping Point. I know what you’re thinking: the glamour – it never ends! You’re quite right.

The plan for the evening was to head out to try and locate Sticky Vicky – well, we had to, didn’t we? For those unfamiliar, you lucky bastards. You know that scene in Mary Poppins pulls the lips of her bag apart and pulls out all manner of odd things – a birdcage, an umbrella, a lamp? It’s pretty much that act, but rather than a carpet bag she uses her fanny. Sorry, how crass: her grot-slot. She uses her blart like one might use an overnight bag or a drawer in a utility room. A quick glance (through my fingers) at videos online showing her pulling batteries, light-bulbs, razor blades and fruit from her snatch. Even the man from Del Monte would say no to that. Her wiki entry (not a euphemism) describes her as a ‘vaginal magic show’. A vaginal magic show? Please. David Blaine’s a vaginal magic show, and that’s because he’s a c*nt.

Mother, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry.

Anyway, bless, it’s not the original Sticky Vicky as she has sadly contracted uterine cancer – but she handed over the act to her daughter. What are the odds that both mother and daughter would have a liver-sock like a closing-down sale at Wickes? She was quite the legal eagle too, you know – she successfully sued someone for stealing her act and trademarked the name Sticky Vicky. I can’t imagine that a moron in a hurry would confuse her pulling half a rack of lamb and an aga out of her gammon-flaps for anything else, but hey. We researched online to see where she would be only to be met with the disappointing/thank God news – they’d both stepped down. There’s a rash (that’s what’ll happen when you’re yanking breeze blocks out of your chomper) of people doing similar acts now, so although we couldn’t see the original, we decided that if we headed out we’d most likely bump into someone pulling something out of/putting something in their blurter – even if it was just replacing their fannynanny in the street. I mean, it is Benidorm.

So, again, out we tottered, drinking at various establishments along the way – I’d be more specific, but god knows the plastic chairs and burnt skin tends to run into one another, especially as you consume far too much alcohol. We had somewhere in our minds that we ought to go watch the Meat Loaf tribute act down at Jokers bar. I was reluctant at first: I was furious with the act for missing his golden opportunity at the best possible pun name he could have had. Seriously, if you’re an overweight Meat Loaf tribute act performing in Spain, why the fuck would you not call yourself:

‘Fat out of El’

I mean honestly. Nevertheless, the thought of someone belting out some classic Meat Loaf was inviting enough to win me round. First some food – the usual problem of trying to find somewhere to eat that looked faintly decent. We looked everywhere but nothing came up and after a good hour of walking around, we settled for a classic Spanish spread in the er…Clay Oven Indian restaurant. Of course! Listen, we tried, we really did, but the only other place that looked remotely inviting was packed to the rafters with a sea of lightly wobbling elderly folks. It looked as though there was a tiny earthquake taking place. Anyway, the Clay Oven wasn’t bad at all, save for the fact it took us two hours to complete our meal, 40 minutes of which was waiting for the waiter to bring us the bill. He disappeared with the promise of getting the card machine and never came back. I presume he’d left the machine back in their sister restaurant in Bangalore. The food was delicious mind – for reasons we can’t go into it’s been a long while since we’ve had a good rich calorie-laden meal and this really scratched the itch, although the onions, spices and sauces were almost immediately playing havoc with my belly. We paid up and moved on, finally seeing Jokers looming large on the horizon. In we went.

It was rammed. Absolutely rammed. Clearly a lot of people want to see a bit of Meat Loaf, and who could blame them? The bar was shaped like a horseshoe with the stage in the middle and it was standing room only, even right at the back. We bought drinks and found a space where we might glance the top of his head. That’s fine – live acts are like casual sex – doesn’t really matter what they look like, you’re more concerned with the noises they’re making.

This was the only way I could get a shot of him!

But, oh no. We had trouble.

Trouble in the shape of a miserable, moaning, sour-faced old bag who was sat RIGHT AT THE BACK of the venue and was complaining that because we’d stood in front of her, she couldn’t see. You need to understand that immediately in front of us was a stag party, also stood up, so the very best she could see before us was a row of arses clad in George at Asda jeans. I could hear her mumbling away, getting louder and louder, saying to her husband that she’d been sat there three hours (WELL SIT AT THE FUCKING FRONT THEN, YOU SAGGY, DEATH-DODGING HUSK) and now the night was ruined because of ‘those fat men’. Fat! I mean, she’s right – when Paul and I stand next to each other it’s the equivalent of someone parking a small lorry in the bar – but still!

You better believe then that we spent almost an hour of Meat Loaf’s tribute act on our tip-toes, waving our arms around, shrieking and wolf-whistling. Anything to block her view just that bit further. She was muttering away like a stuck budgie but I cared not. Had she asked us to move – despite it making no difference to what she could see – we would have gladly done so because we’re not arseholes. But because she was rude she was granted no mercy at all. Oh, and we had one final trick up our sleeve – or rather, up my arse. Remember all that rich, spicy Indian food I’d put away a couple of hours earlier and washed it down with lots of beer? It was making a dramatic gassy re-appearance round the back, meaning she got the full force of a good spicy after-dinner-hint in her general direction every 30 seconds or so. I know, I’m rotten. By the time we decided to leave she had a big brown streak in her grey hair, though at least it went swimmingly with her nicotine fringe.

Have to admit, it was difficult to get out of the venue, what with the team of paramedics trying to bring her round.

Anyway – the rest of the night descended into more drinking, more stumbling about and, somewhat embarrassingly, I set my moustache on fire with a flaming shot from some knockabout bar. I was gutted: I’ve been trying to grow a neat beard for so long, and poof, gone – a big chunk missing from the top of my lip. With the smell of burning in my nostrils, the sound of Paul retching in my ears and nearly all the money we went out with still in my wallet (seriously, it’s so hard to spend money in Benidorm – everything is so cheap), we went to bed. Oh and for those who think I’m mean to poor Paul, let me tell you this – I actually got up in the night to put a load of furniture in front of the balcony doors as I was so terrified that Paul would get an idea to jump out of the balcony in his heavily drunken state. What can I say: I’m a love. Actually, it’s more because I didn’t want breakfast to be cancelled the next morning as they scraped Paul-jam off every conceivable surface. Trust me, I know what that’s like…

Anyway. Until we meet again.

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


Double dip time! Both are delicious and here’s the thing – I don’t like aubergine and I don’t like beetroot. But I like both of these…you couldn’t write the script! Or something. Either way, these dips are perfect with chunks of Broghies. Remember us twattling on about these the other day? They’re one syn each, big enough to break into six good chunks and are great for dips. They’re not bursting with flavour so it’s important you have a good dip for them – but they are satisfying our crisp itch like nothing before. You can find them in Iceland or, even better, contact them via here (it’ll open in a new window!) and let them know you want them! Both are dead easy to make.

baba ganoush



baba ganoush

to make baba ganoush, you’ll need:

  • four big aubergines – get big buggers mind, you want ones that demand you buy a copy of Razzle just to hide them under in case the neighbours see
  • one tablespoon of good olive oil (6 syns)
  • salt and pepper
  • one lemon
  • three garlic cloves
  • one tablespoon of tahini (5 syns)
  • chopped parsley

to make baba ganoush, you should:

  • if you have gas and a lot of time, have yourself a good fart and then get ready – you want to cook the aubergines nice and hot so the skin blisters, so yes, if you have gas, you can prick them with a fork and then hold them over the naked flame of your hob until they’re cooked through and blackened
  • but who the fuck has time for that, honestly – do what I do, prick them all over and stick them under the grill for twenty minutes, turning halfway through
  • mash up your olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar (or just mush it with your hands)
  • cut the aubergines in half, get the flesh into a bowl, mix it with your oil mixture from above, and scatter with chopped parsley
  • enjoy!

We can thank Paul Hollywood for this. Aubergines have plenty of moisture in them but if you want, add another tablespoon of tahini for 5 more syns. I won’t tell Margaret. Can’t find tahini? You’re not looking hard enough – most supermarkets sell it and it’s not expensive to buy. Worth tracking it down! Don’t want to spend syns? Fine, make this beetroot raita instead! I found this in Meera Sodha’s vegetarian Indian recipe book, which I love more than I can possibly tell you. There’s not a thing in there I don’t adore. Have a look – it’ll open in a new window. I’ve tinkered with the recipe to make it even easier.

minty beetroot raita

minty beetroot raita

to make minty beetroot raita, you’ll need:

  • a pack of cooked beetroot globes – we bought ours in Tesco, the ones that are vacuum-packed – tasty
  • two garlic cloves
  • a nice big lemon
  • 1 tbsp mint sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • fat-free natural yoghurt (if you want it syn-free) or a decent natural/Greek yoghurt if you’re only concerned about taste!
  • optional: Broghies, raw veg or whatever you want for dipping!

to make minty beetroot raita, you should:

  • grate your beetroot – I think you can buy grated beetroot actually, but if not, whizz it through a food processor with the grater blade on – it’ll make sharp work of it – we’ve got the Magimix and there’s nothing more satisfying than watching it destroy stuff
  • mince your garlic (use one of these bad boys – you’ll save your fingers and you don’t need to fart about peeling the garlic)
  • squeeze yer lemon and save the juice
  • take your grated beetroot, minced garlic, mint sauce and lemon juice and pop it into a frying pan – you want to cook the beetroot a little just to ‘dry’ it out a bit, using lemon juice to stop it sticking
  • add a good pinch of salt and lots of black pepper
  • allow it to cool and then mix with the natural yoghurt until it’s the consistency you want – don’t do it when the beetroot is hot though otherwise the yoghurt will split!
  • serve with raw veg or a delicious Broghie!

Want some more recipe ideas? Just click the buttons below! You’ll love it, I promise.

vegetariansmall   snackssmall slowcookersmallovernight-oatstastersmall

Enjoy!

J