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…


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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

velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – instant pot or hob

Velvety leek, potato and cheddar soup – because frankly, it’s Autumn, and clitting about with consommés and gazpachos can fuck right off. You want a soup that’ll put hairs on that big old chest of yours and get stuck when you strain it through your Kevin Webster moustache. So here we are. Sorry for the lack of posts but well, you can probably guess that we’ve been away. Anyway, before we get to the fabulous leek, potato and cheddar soup, you’ve got the next part of our trip to Benidorm to smile politely through. If you can’t be arsed with reading all them big words, don’t fret, just click on the handy shortcut button below to be whisked straight to the pictures. Yes: just click on the mirror below.

Phew. We’d all had enough of her cockadoodie attitude, am I right? Let’s go back to a sunnier time…

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

You know, rather than prattle on about the last two days of the holiday, and bore you to tears with a 300 word monologue about the different types of toast we have, I’m going to do what we did with the Cornwall entries (good God the horror) and recount the memorable bits rather than go at it chronologically. I know what you’re thinking: James, you’re fabulous. Assume that the bits in between were taken up with us swimming in the pool, crisping in the sun or dozing.

Whenever we mentioned online that we were going to Facebook we were met with two things: aghast responses and ‘GO TO THE OLD TOWN’. I harboured a strong hope that the Old Town was actually Barcelona but no, apparently it’s the ‘nice part’ of Benidorm, in much the same way that the Isle of Arran is the nice part of Glasgow. Ah I jest, Glasgow, we love you and would move there in a barely-detectable heartbeat. So, hunger thoroughly satiated by way of the breakfast buffet (room 2002, two-thousand-and-two, dos-mil-y-dos, aaaah for fucks sake) and our hackles risen by the sight of our doubles mincing about the yoghurt station, we set off with the faint aim of walking to the Old Town, taking in what we could during the day.

Oh! Before I get there, can I quickly discuss this?

A lift that judges you.

The lift had a bastard ‘FAT PERSON’ monitor on it. When the two of us got in it went straight to cock-level, which sounds about right for us, until you realise the lift was built for ten people. I mean, we’re fat, but not quite that bad. I think if we had risked it after a particularly bountiful breakfast it may have started shrieking “¡ayudameMis cables!” in hysterical robotic tones. Anyway, the day was young.

It began with a crushing disappointment. We had seen no end of elderly couples whizzing around on double-seater mobility scooters, looking to all the world like particularly gelatinous takes on the future humans from Wall-E (only with far more fag-scorched winceyette). We wanted in on the action, if only because it would have made for an hilarious video of the two of us careering through the streets like the tank chase from Goldeneye. Completely unashamed we wandered into the first mobility scooter hire place and started trying out the various models. All good fun until some harried little Spanish lady came hurtling from out the back and started shouting at us in Spanish. I tried to placate her that, even though I’m hilariously obese, I’m not the easily forty stone or more that I’d seen the mobility scooters having to shuttle around outside. She has having none of it – apparently you need to be registered disabled (fair enough) or old (see previous comment) to hire a scooter. I caught a glance of Paul’s haggard face in the rear-view mirror of the Leviathan-shuttle nearest to me and wondered whether we could pass him off as over 55. Gloria Estefan wouldn’t have accepted it though, so we slunk away.

We carried on walking, dropping into the odd shop on the way. One thing I can’t understand is how all of the tatty shops selling cheap towels, tatty ornaments and fridge magnets and t-shirts with ‘I LOVE COK’ and ‘YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CRAZY TO ENJOY BENIDORM BUT IT HELPS’ and other shite manage to keep going. There are hundreds of the buggers – probably one for each family that landed. Surely there can’t be a demand for it? I’d like to live in a world where there wasn’t demand for one of these shops, let alone a whole neighbourhood of them. But nevermind. We nipped into the cheap cigarettes store just to see how much baccy costs now – nothing confirms your decision not to smoke like seeing the fact that you’re spending more on tobacco than you do for a good dinner. Plus catching the yellowing eyes of the walking dead shuffling around buying their Lambert and Butlers, coughing out lung mist all the while. This was clearly ground zero for the coughing plague that would accompany us on the plane home. We did have a titter at the fact that the 200 Lambert and Butlers came with a free bottle of Jägermeister sellotaped to the front. Hey, know your market. Listen, we’re not being snobby about smoking – we once had a drawer in the kitchen that was full of tobacco and Rizlas, that’s how dedicated we were – but if you’re going to smoke, try something with a bit of taste. You never know, the Marlboro Reds probably came with a well-aged Châteauneuf-du-Pape attached. I tried taking a picture of the fags but got roundly reprimanded (again!) by the lady behind the till, who shouted ‘NO PHOTOS’ with such ferocity you’d think she was guarding the nuclear codes as opposed to a cancer factory. Pfft. We left empty-handed, but at least able to move more than twenty yards without our lips turning blue.

Fags.

Just round the corner from the cheap fag shops was a cheery little minigolf course. Five euros for eighteen holes – you can’t get vexed at those prices, can you? I confess we only went in because it looked as though there was a gay bears convention behind us in the queue, and hell, if there’s one thing we both enjoy it’s having several bearded men lining up behind us all desperate to sink their balls into an easy hole.

Oh I know, we’re so nasty. But seriously, they looked like they’d all just finished lumberjacking and fighting oil-rig fires. I could barely bend to pick up my ball without poking out my own eye.

As usual, things between Paul and I became immediately competitive – whereas I’ll always beat him at pool, Monopoly and growing a beard (he doesn’t so much grow a beard as frighten it away), he nearly always wins at minigolf. I just don’t have the patience, I hate golf. It’s so tedious and arbitrary and pointless. At least with rugby you run the risk of being accidentally penetrated in an especially violent scrum. With golf what’s the most exciting thing that can happen? Someone with pipe-cleaner legs, clad in whatever shite was heavily discounted at the garden centre, comes and primly tells you off for not wearing the right shoes? Pfft. I’m yet to meet anyone who has been seriously into golf who I haven’t suspected of being on some sort of register. Maybe I’m jaundiced because we have a golf course at the end of our street and I’m forever having to dodge Audis and BMWs piloted by triple-chinned moonface fuckheads not concentrating on their driving because they’re too busy thinking about their stroke / hypnotised by the rancid pattern on their trousers.

Action shot! I can’t recall the balls being quite so ovoid, though.

Anyway, I digress (if I ever become rich and famous and in need of an autobiography, that’ll be the title – and the book will open with me being born and then 1000 pages of bitchy comments about the hospital canteen and Paul’s mother). The mini-golf course was actually good fun – very much a file under ‘god bless, they tried’ sort of affair, but good fun none the less. Paul struggled with a tricky shot through a windmill which almost gave me a victory but I was distracted on the eighteenth hole by the sight of one of the bearded gentlemen bent over to tie his shoes and that was it for the day. Paul cruised to an easy victory and made sure I knew it. Personally, I thought it was a little churlish of him to gloat – it’s hard to concentrate on your stroke when you’re desperately trying to engineer a situation where you could feasibly fall over and expose your rear like a cat on heat. As we left Paul noticed a mechanical bull and asked if we should have a go. Fearful of the hydraulics wheezing asthmatically and then enveloping us in thick blue smoke, I declined. I bought us both a knock-off Spanish Magnum instead and we moved on.

Someone has to do it, I suppose.

We stopped briefly at an Ale-Hop shop (very much like a Tiger, if not a Tiger under a different name) where I desperately tried to find a hat to find my giant head. It’s my eternal struggle and one I’m yet to beat. I’m a reasonable looking bloke, I think, but I have a head like the Bloaty Head patients from Theme Hospital. Every hat I try on is always about four inches too small, sitting on top my balding expanse like a fey little affectation rather than the sun protection I so desperately need. When I was much younger I found a natty little Kangol bucket hat in a hedge that fitted perfectly – no idea where it came from (although it did have J. Merrick scrawled on the inside) but by god it saw me through so many summers, until one fateful day when it blew off my head into the English Channel. I like to think it served its purpose and moved on to rescue some other elephantine-bonced poor bastard. Mind you, for as much as I struggled to find a hat…

…Paul was suffering more trying to find a bra to protect his poor heaving busoms.

Poor guy. He’s a busty double-D, if anyone has one spare they can pass to him.

Right, here’s the thing. As usual, I started out with good intentions about keeping it succinct but I’ve actually managed to hit the 3000 word mark. I’ve cut that out for the next two posts but hey, let’s get to the recipe. I appreciate I can’t keep your attention for too long, what with all the shiny things in the world to look at. Until next time…

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


This soup, then. You don’t need an Instant Pot to make it, you absolutely don’t, but it’ll make it so much quicker if you have one. Before you ask, yes, you probably could do it in a soupmaker too, though I’d have reservations about adding cheddar in case it sticks to the bottom. Your choice. The Instant Pot is currently pretty cheap on Amazon, mind you. This makes easily enough for six people.



to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you will need:

  • 3 leeks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp dried thyme (or two sprigs of fresh if you’re fancy)
  • 1½ tsp oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 125ml light white wine (4½ syns)
  • 3 vegetable stock cubes
  • 4 medium-sized potatoes, diced into 2″ chunks
  • 110g Philadelphia Lightest (1x HeA)
  • 40g reduced-fat cheddar cheese (1x HeA)
  • 2 bacon medallions (optional, just if you’re feeling SUPER fancy)

Look, if you can’t find light white wine, just use any old slop you have kicking about. Use mouthwash for all I care. I’m not your boss!

Broghie

Wondering what on Earth that broghie thing is? Hard to describe! But it’s just the thing for dipping and adding crunch – like a prawn cracker in consistency only without the oil and fat and fishiness that comes with it. We’re using them a lot for satisfying the crunch that we miss from bread – and they’re only a syn each. You’ll see them in a few of our recipes because we’re well stocked up – bigger Iceland stores sell them, and they’re popular in Ireland – just like I wish we were! We’re not getting paid to promote them, just something that I saw on Facebook and wanted!

to make leek, potato and cheddar soup you should:

  • wash and finely slice the leeks – if you’re not too clumsy, get one of these and do it in seconds!
  • press the ‘saute’ button on the instant pot and add a bit of oil
  • add the leeks to the pan and stir regularly until softened
  • add the garlic, stir and cook for another 30 seconds
  • turn off the instant pot and add the thyme, oregano, bay, wine and potatoes to the pan
  • dissolve the stock cubes in 1.25l of boiling water and add to the pan
  • give a really good stir, then cook on high pressure for 10 minutes
  • meanwhile, cook the bacon until it’s super crispy and chop up into little bits
  • when it’s finished, use quick release and stir in the philadelphia and cheese
  • use a stick blender to blend the mix until it’s smooth
  • serve in bowls and sprinkle over some of the bacon bits

If you haven’t got an instant pot don’t fret – you can do this on the hob just as easily. Chuck the leeks into a giant pan until soft, add everything else (except the cheese), bring to the boil and them simmer until tender, add the cheese then blend with a stick blender. Simple!

Enjoy that? Of course you did, you saucy bugger. Want more? Click.

soupsmallnaughtyfooddrinkssmallbbqsmallonepot 

Goodnight for now! Remember to hit the share buttons below if you’ve enjoyed the recipe!

J

roasted rainbow aloo gobi – syn free and amazing

Roasted rainbow aloo gobi if you please, and syn free to boot! You know sometimes you make a vegetarian dish and it’s OK but you’re left craving meat like a sex-starved nun? This wasn’t the case with this – in fact, it was so tasty and colourful we ended up making it again the next day. Then had the leftovers the day after. By that point the neighbours were banging on the window sure, so fetid and thick was the fart-air billowing from under our door, that someone had died. So, make it, but be warned: your leather cheerio will turn black and die.

You know, it’s a wonder I don’t get asked to write the recipes for Woman’s Weekly. Anyway, before we get to the pure sex that is the aloo gobi, you’re going to have to endure a night out with us, as it’s part four of our Benidorm trip. We’ve even got videos for you! Don’t want to read all our shite? That’s fine. I’ve put in a shortcut button. yes, for this one, you just need to click on the OLD MONA WHO’LL LET ANYONE CHUCK THEIR PAINT ON HER FACE below:

Possibly the classiest photo we’ve ever had on here and I’ve used it to make a spunk joke. Eee, what am I like. Shall we continue?

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

When you last left us we had endured a breakfast buffet, met our doubles and sizzled by the pool for far longer than could be considered reasonable for a travel blog. Remember that time, we had hope in our eyes.

We used the day to plan for the night ahead, with an eye to having a bit of dinner somewhere local to the hotel and then heading out to a place we’d heard excellent reviews about – the Showboat, just up the road. Dinner was so awful that I can’t remember where we went, only that it was exactly like the slop you get in lay-bys from people who’ve used their food hygiene certificate to wipe their arse with. I’ve been told you can eat well in Benidorm and it’s undoubtedly true, but every single place we looked at within about half a mile’s mince from the hotel were full to the brim with people pointing at pictures of egg and chips on the laminated menu. If my memory serves me correctly, Paul had a hot-dog and I had a club sandwich. Presumably the Club the sandwich referred to was the Cavern Club because this sandwich tasted like it was made back in the sixties – I’ve never had to dip a sandwich in my pint before to moisten it.

Showboat, then. I’m not too sure how to couch my experience of the place, really – not least because we drank 11 pints each over the course of the entire evening. People in our facebook group were treated to some wonderfully awful videos, I can assure you. Let me say that the staff were lovely, the venue was clean and the toilet, far from the Trainspotting homage I expected, was spotless. We’d shuffled in at 8pm and had the place to ourselves – the entertainment such as it was started at 9pm so we decided on a game of pool. There was one pool cue and well, the lines on the table weren’t especially clear.

Like playing at The Crucible!

I won, because I always do when it comes to pool – Paul’s flipper-arms make holding the cue difficult – and then it was time to get a round in and enjoy the first act: a Tina Turner impersonation. Here’s the thing: when your opening gambit is a declaration that despite appearances, you’re not actually a man in drag, then it rather sets the tone. She (and she was a she, I could see no Nutbush City Limits under her straining skirt) was really good! She belted out a few of the classics, though I did feel sorry for her when she tried to get the audience up on stage – the front two rows looked like they couldn’t manage to breathe unassisted let alone jive through Proud Mary. She gamely pressed on.

We don’t need another hero. We just need someone to call a nurse.

Things reached a pinnacle when it came to River Deep Mountain High – one of my favourite songs. You know it – it has a great lead-in and then straight into Tina singing. I was all ready to stand up and clap and throw my knickers on the stage (the size of the fuckers meant they’d probably come back down in someone’s tapas in Valencia) but there was a problem – she uttered the first line and then stopped. Completely forgotten the words. I was devastated: I was itching to see her strut/stumble through my favourite, and it wasn’t to be. I yelled out that she must leave Ike before he did any more serious damage and, taking this on board, she carried on and saw it through to the end. Towards the closing notes I saw our doppelgängers arrive and take seats near the front. We exchanged glances. Tina shuffled off. More drinks for everyone.

Then came Stella Artois. A drag act. I’m going to hold my hands up here and say outright, I’m not a huge fan of drag unless it’s done superbly well. This guy wasn’t. Actually no, let’s rewrite that a bit: I don’t mind drag acts, but I don’t like the fact that some people seem to think it gives them a licence to be an abrasive, nasty arsehole. Stella was absolutely in this second category. They opened with a few gags which actually did make me laugh (and listen, I’m not a hard person to please, I’m probably the only person in Britain who’ll happily sit through You’ve Been Framed) and then boy oh boy did that show degenerate quickly. It’s pretty bad when you’re hearing material stolen from Peter Kay’s early work, it’s even worse when it’s from Bob bloody Monkhouse. I think if the crowd hadn’t been (barely) lapping it up he’d have started a Vera Lynn singalong.

That’s when things just got worse and worse. I’m all for a coarse gag – as evidenced in nearly every single post on here – but make it funny. I thought we’d reached a low point when he was talking about his arsehole but then the racist stuff followed. We’re not just talking like the naff racist gags you expect in a flat-roof social club but just vile shit about blowing up mosques and *clutch my sides* not seeing a white face in Birmingham. Jim and Saul were slapping their knees and sloshing their campari all over their shoes at the ‘humour’ whereas I was hoping to find blood in my urine just to cheer myself up. The show lasted an hour during which we anaesthetised ourselves with a lot more booze and making videos for the group. Not going to lie, we were thankful when they tottered off the stage, though I admit I was fretful about whether or not she would get back to Peterborough in time to put tea on for Paul’s brother.

I’m kidding, he looked nowt like Paul’s mother. She’s got a much more pronounced beard.

Anyway, Stella fucked off, and I thought the entertainment was over the night but then, WHAM! On came a George Michael tribute act. He was so much better! He looked more like George Osborne than George Michael but he could belt out a tune and that’s all that matters. He did all the classics: Fast Love, Careless Whisper, Faith, shot his load up the cubicle door in the gents, the lot. It was great fun. At one point he asked the crowd for their favourites – I, buoyed by more alcohol units than is sensible for a man of my obesity, shouted LAST CHRISTMAS. He immediately sniped back that that was a stupid suggestion because it was September, to which I shouted back that he was supposed to be dead, so all bets were off. He sang Freedom with a proper sulk on.

We left, though I took a moment to step on my double’s foot as I walked past. I like to think my weight on his foot dislodged a fragment of his doubtless infected toenail which shot straight to his heart, leading to a full cardiac arrest later in the holiday. Fucker shouldn’t have stolen my beans and/or looked like me. After a long stumble down the street, we were in bed, snoring and farting the rest of the night away.

Anyway, we made a supercut of the night for your viewing pleasure. You have no idea how long it took to make this faintly appropriate for the blog – the amount of bits we had to cut out just so we didn’t get shut down / put on the front pages of the tabloids, well, you’ll never know.

Oh and if you’re wondering how we were feeling the next morning…

I know, imagine waking up next to that breathing at you from across the pillows. To be honest, you’ve got the far better view out of the two available to you at that point.

Part five will surely come, but first, we really ought to crack on with the aloo gobi, yes? Before I go – all of that above and the sentence I’m most pleased with is the WHAM remark. I chuckled away to myself with that one.

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


This makes enough for easily four people, whether as a side or a full main. You could chuck some red peppers in to increase the colour still further. I got the basic idea from my absolute favourite Indian cookery book, Made in India by Meera Sodha. There’s not a recipe I’ve made yet that hasn’t been absolutely gorgeous, so hats off to her. You can buy the book dirt cheap on Amazon! She recommends making this as a light salad and serving in a poppadom with crushed peanuts, but as I can almost hear Mags clutching her Facebook-raffle-prize pearls from here, I’ve slimmed it down a little.

rainbow aloo gobi

rainbow aloo gobi

to make roasted rainbow aloo gobi, you’ll need:

  • 500g of new potatoes – if you get Jersey potatoes or similar, they’ll be nice and yellow
  • 600g of cauliflower – to make it rainbow, buy rainbow cauliflowers – Marks and Spencers sell them – they come in yellow, white and purple
  • two large red onions
  • one big bastard bag of spinach
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • three cloves of garlic, minced (use one of these bad boys – you’ll save your fingers and you don’t need to fart about peeling the garlic)
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds or half a teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • salt and black pepper
  • spray oil, but not Frylight, because you’re so much better than that muck
  • red pepper optional

Let’s quickly talk about oil, for those that haven’t been with us since the beginning. Here’s the thing: we don’t like Frylight. It’s pushed too hard in a lot of recipes and it tastes like poo. We prefer to use a good olive oil (and if we’re absolutely honest, we don’t syn it – never have) but for the sake of you lot, we always factor the syns in. Most of the time for blog recipes we recommend using a spray oil – you’ll get enough from 10 sprays and that’s 1 syn according to the calculator. Divided between four, up to you if you syn such a negligible amount. We use one of these filled up with olive oil but listen, you can buy spray oil in the shops. Just look for the Frylight, knock them over, choose something decent. It’s your body – why eat plastic crap if you don’t have to do so?

to make roasted rainbow aloo gobi, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • chop your new potatoes into similar sized chunks
  • pick the cauliflower apart into chunky little florets
  • arrange them both on a baking tray, spritz them with a few sprays of oil, scatter over the garlic, chilli, cumin/cumin seeds and then season with a lot of salt and black pepper
  • into the oven they go for thirty minutes or so, turning them every now and then
  • meanwhile, thinly slice your onion and pepper if using, then gently sweat them in a few sprays of oil – cook them slowly mind, let them sweat and golden and caramelise
  • add the chickpeas (drained, obviously) then the spinach so it wilts down
  • mix in the potatoes and cauliflower and serve!

Super tasty and easy to make.

Want more ideas? You greedy bugger!

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Enjoy!

J

cheesy bacon chicken goujons – my word, so good

Cheesy bacon chicken goujons. Cheese? Bacon? Chicken? I’ll prep the defibrillator for your stopped heart and Paul will fetch a mop for the slug trail you’re leaving. These are bloody lovely – normally we’d suggest dipping them into a ranch dip but frankly, as I don’t want to hasten your consultant to eternal slumber, let’s keep the syns low and serve with beans. We’ll get to the recipe in a moment, you understand, but first, nonsense. If you can’t be arsed to read, just click on the OVER-AGED RIPE STINKER below:

Thank god they’ve left. Someone had their make-up gun set to whore, am I right? Let us begin…hey, remember though, I love getting feedback on the holiday entries. I read them all!

click here for part one | click here for part two

We decided, given our somewhat alcohol-tinged gadabouting the previous night, that we would do the Very British Thing and have a day by the pool, only moving to eat, burn and bask. Normally we’re quite good at getting “out and about” when we go on holiday but you know what, sometimes all a boy wants to do is lie back, singe his titties and ogle the lifeguards. Actually, scratch that last bit – the lifeguards looked about 12 years old and would struggle pulling the plug out of an empty bath. I had no high hopes that if I suffered cardiac arrest from doing half a minute of gentle swimming that they’d be able to hoist my bloated corpse out of the jacuzzi area. I’d be left there for time evermore, bubbling away in the heated jets and turning into James soup.

So, on that alluring note, we decided (against our alcohol-souzed brains’ better judgments) to rise early and go downstairs for the buffet breakfast, which was thoughtfully included in our hotel booking. Good food soaks up booze, after all – but catastrophe. We got to the buffet floor only to find a queue of elderly people all sucking their teeth and murmuring. It was like a sequel to Cocoon, only with Spanish dubbing. By joining the queue we actually lowered the mean age of the queue by forty eight years. It was like being on the flight to Corsica all over again, where I was absolutely sure we’d accidentally boarded a pilgrimage to Dignitas. The queue shuffled as slowly as you can imagine it would (if you’ve ever tried doing your lunch shopping in Marks and Spencer when they’ve put the £10 meal deal on, you’ll catch my drift – that’s right, isn’t it Alan?) and when we eventually arrived at the front we were shouted at by some officious bloke on the desk who couldn’t understand my room number of 2002. He asked me to repeat it every which way possible – Paul was set to do some interpretative dance – before finally caving in and letting us through. Here, mate – I’m not that fucking enamoured with bright red overcooked Spanish sausages that look like diseased dogs’ dicks that I’m running a breakfast racket, alright?

Oh and you better believe that this repeated itself over and over throughout the holiday. Every morning the same problem, the same jobsworth man with a face full of woe, the same discussion. On the penultimate day I actually took a picture of the room number on our door as proof but Paul wouldn’t let me show it.

We sat down to breakfast. Actually, I sat down, Paul was dispatched to find coffee and orange juice. I can only presume he walked to Seville for the oranges because by the time he reappeared he’d grown a grey beard and a zimmer frame. Turns out he’d just picked them up by osmosis from being trapped in a crowd of the elderly at the omelette station. Coffee downed for fortitude we went for our food, promising each other that we would be healthy. Paul wandered off to the yoghurts and fruit station, I went straight for the gold – cooked breakfast. I know, Englishman aboard and all that shite, but I wanted something to line my stomach and a fucking Activia yoghurt and some sawmill muesli wasn’t going to cut it.

Now, do you know, this was actually a very good breakfast. I’ll refrain from listing all the delicious things they had, not least because I don’t want you getting a wide-on when I mention fried bread, fried bacon, fried eggs and fried milk (not even kidding). However, it was here that I met my holiday nemesis. I met me! I was reaching for the ladle for the beans when some fat fuckface actually pushed my arm out of the way to get there first. I followed his arm, slightly aghast, only to realise it was attached to the body of someone who was almost my double – same glasses, same shaved head, same beard, same build – honestly, if I ever needed a stunt double this would be my guy. I mean, it wasn’t a complete replica – his cheap trainers let him down and he was almost certainly wearing Lynx as opposed to my Tom Ford – but it was so close. He was 100% definitely on my bus too – I could tell by the way he was pursing his lips in a ‘yeah and what’ face at me.

In any other timeline, where Paul had blinked out of existence, it would have been at the very most ten minutes before we were having animalistic hot twin-sex over the hash-browns, but because he was rude, that was it, no chance. We made our way down the queue together, me behind tutting at his choice of fried egg over poached, me sighing theatrically when he put the mushrooms spoon in with the cubed potatoes, him huffing when I took the last bit of bacon. The tension was palpable. Also, he was one of those people who feel the need to tower their food at a buffet rather than eating like a normal person. I was hoping, praying even, that the sole of his Aldi trainers would come loose and send him crashing to the floor, but alas, God, you let me down again.

Now, it doesn’t end there. When I got back to our table and breathlessly (well, it was a long buffet) recounted my tale of meeting my double to Paul, he told me a similar story – he too had bumped into ‘me’ and then, to top it off, had then spotted him making his own way back to his table where he sat down with a ‘Paul’ – Mama Cass with a five o’clock shadow. Turns out we’d stumbled across an evil version of ourselves: just like when Sabrina the Teenage Witch met her evil twin Katrina. There’s a reference everyone will get! We christened them Jim and Saul and, much like the breakfast maître d’, they would haunt our holiday.

One thing we did notice: they were always miserable as sin. Every time we did spot them the bigger one had a face like he’d lost a fiver and found a pound and his long-suffering husband was trailing behind him like a condemned man. Paul and I have lots of faults, but we’re always bloody laughing.

With breakfast demolished and the chest pains subsided we returned for our room for Paul to ‘drop the kids off’. This took twenty five minutes, all time that I spent anxiously bouncing about on the balcony looking at all the sun-loungers disappearing under rolls of pink flesh. Have you seen videos on the tourists waiting for the bell so they can dash out and claim the sunbeds?

Actually, this is just over the road from where we were staying. I’d seen this video a week or two previous to the holiday and knew that we had no chance of a sun-lounger by the poolside. I kept trying to urge Paul to hurry up but ‘it was a slow mover up the charts’ apparently and we were in for the long-haul. So frustrating! By the time he had birthed, showered, dressed and suncreamed it was knocking onto 11am and yes, indeed, by the time we got down to the genuinely lovely pool there wasn’t a sun-lounger to be had. We wandered around ashen-faced before Paul let out a yell and made a dash as quick as a fat man with troublesome bowels dared – he’d spotted a couple leaving (possibly because we were blocking their sun) and their loungers were ours!

Anyway, here’s a video from our pool, together with our voices and faces and hairy shoulders. You poor sods.

What followed were a good few hours of relaxing, soaking up the sun and reading, mixed with a few little splashes in the pool. It was lovely, but I’ll be damned if I can make an interesting couple of paragraphs about it. So instead, let me touch on something else which I’ve mentioned before – don’t worry about your body when you’re on holiday! There were far too many ladies, bless, hiding their less than toned bodies behind giant towels or worse, sitting in a t-shirt sweating away. I know the feeling, I’ve done it myself – you’re worried that you’ll look awful when you step out in a bikini (OK I haven’t done that before) or go for a swim. Why though? Why giving a flying fuck what people around that pool think of you?

For a start, no-one is bloody looking anyway, and if they are it’s only to try and read the page of Take a Break that has been inked on your tit from lying out in the sun too long. Then there’s the small fact that, unless you are spectacularly unlucky, you’re never going to meet this same group of people ever again, unless you’re watching a Judge Rinder marathon. So for goodness sake, you spend so much money to get out there, let the wobbly bits, untanned streaks, saggy boobs and spaniel-ear-ballsacks hang loose. You’re a long time dead! The best looking people around that pool were the ones who walked with a bit of confidence, misguided or not. Schlepping around like a Babushka in your eighty-seven layers, face dripping with heat exhaustion, is never going to be a good look.

Now, let’s do the recipe and pick up this story next time. I can sense a lot of teeth gnashing going on. Least I hope it’s your teeth.

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


Cheesy bacon chicken goujons. I mean, you just WOULD.

cheesy bacon chicken goujons cheesy bacon chicken goujons

to make cheesy bacon chicken goujons you will need:

Oh god, look, just google panko. It’s a breadcrumb you can buy from most supermarkets. Or make your own. Technically this is 2.25 per serving, but if you’re going to shit the bed over quarter of a syn, why don’t you just go back to your ready-meals and crying into your Chat magazine?

to make cheesy bacon chicken goujons you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200ºC
  • lay a sheet of baking paper over a large baking sheet or tray
  • cook the bacon until it’s well done – we used our Optigrill which did the job perfectly but you can do yours however you like – make sure its really crisp!
  • put the bacon into a food processor (if you’re after a decent one you can’t beat a Magimix) and blitz until a quite coarse sand-like consistency
  • tip the bacon into the panko and add the cheese, and mix well – it’s not a bad idea to split the mixture into two bowls because as it starts to get a bit ‘claggy’ from the egg it won’t stick as well.
  • cut each chicken breast into 2/3 long slices
  • dip each goujon into the egg mix and roll in the panko until well coated
  • lay each goujon onto the baking sheet and spray with just a little oil (don’t go mad, it only needs a bit of a mist to help it brown off – this does the job perfectly!)
  • bake in the oven for 20 minutes (there’s no need to turn)

Enjoy! These really were lovely – good work.

Want more inspiration? What do we ever get from you? Psssh! Click the buttons below!

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J

chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms

Chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms – there’s not one bit of that description that doesn’t give me a stiffy. You’ll find the recipe below, but first, the next part of our trip to Benidorm. If you read the entry and enjoy it, please do leave feedback. I love feedback on the holiday entries, I truly do! Don’t let me down. However, if you’re feeling mean, you can skip straight to the recipe by clicking on the GASSY OLD SAGGY BAG below.

Right, she’s gone. Did you see her clothes? Is she wearing those for a bet? Let’s get straight back to Spain…

click here for part one

Let’s get straight back into it. That Wilkinson own-brand sun lotion won’t slap itself on, you know? You last left us at the airport, which is totally understandable. You were probably like me and, having seen the place as the plane descended through the clouds of Lambert and Butler, were wondering whether you ought to take a chance clinging to the undercarriage on the returning flight. With a deep sigh, we pushed on.

Paul then decided to hit me with another revelation – we had a private transfer to take us the 40 minute or so trip to the city centre. Marvellous – I can’t stand transfer buses: they’re always full of loud folks in loud clothes smacking their children and fretting whenever some half-finished shitpit looms large in the driver’s window. I envisioned a nice air-conditioned taxi, deftly driven by some Spaniard with big brown eyes and reassuring arms, who might be so taken by Paul and I that he would whisk us up into the mountains to feed us tapas and make us both his wife, spending many many years trying to make us bear children.

Well, that didn’t happen. The taxi driver looked like an meth-addicted gopher and the car had seen better days, namely the 1970s. I can get past that but then Paul explained that our private transfer wasn’t private at all – we had to share with two other folk. The indignity! How is that a private transfer? If you nip into a public toilet and have to shit in a cubicle with someone else, that’s not private, is it? Adding anyone extra into any situation, unless it’s an orgy, negates any notion of privacy. I started rolling my eyes so much Paul thought I was going into hypoxia and made me blow into a crisp packet that was caught against the airport doors.

As it happens, our company was terrific – just the type of people we would actually want to be stuck in a hot car with, full of laughter and bawdy jokes. Sharon and Kim, I remembered your names, which is some feat as I find most people so completely forgettable that they drift out of focus by the time we get to the ‘and who are you’ part of the conversation. They did little to allay my concerns about Benidorm’s reputation mind, given their second sentence was warning us about pickpockets and their third was telling us the areas to avoid if we didn’t want to get beaten up. I felt I didn’t know them well enough to lean over and ask them for directions to the sexual assaults hotspots with a knowing wink: well, I didn’t want to look too keen.

The taxi ride passed remarkably uneventfully, though it was had to discern anything outside as it was going past in such a blur – the guy was driving so fast that I can only assume that he was trying to blast the rust off his car. We arrived at the Hotel Melia precisely four minutes before we set off from the airport and first impressions were excellent. The lobby was airy and full of plants, mobility scooters were banned* and the staff were exceptionally welcoming. Alejandro on the front desk could not do enough for us – I genuinely think if I’d asked for a quick rim in the panoramic lift he’d have been on his knees quicker than you can say ¿te has sentado en un poco de chocolate?

* mobility scooters. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone all Jim Davidson on you (not least because I’m reasonably funny, as opposed to being an objectionable shovel-faced c*nt) and started taking pot-shots at the disabled. No – Benidorm gained a bit of a reputation for chavs and cattle hiring mobility scooters to blaze around the place in, as much as you can blaze anywhere with a setting of ‘tortoise’. People were being dashed against walls or tumbled into road as these whirring menaces scooted past. Benidorm Council decreed that you must be over 55 (years, presumably, though stones would do it) and/or disabled before you can hire them, and quite right too. If you’re disabled then of course you should use them, but if you’re only doing it to rest your sweaty cankles or to be a dick, then frankly, I hope you have your next period in a shark tank.

We took the lift to our room on the 20th floor and took stock of our bedroom. Comfortable, well-appointed, decent bed and the TV was tuned straight into ITV2 so you know the previous occupants had been watching Jeremy Kyle. Least I hope that’s the case – I’d hate to think a housekeeper has been learning English by watching that show given none of the people on it can speak it in the first place. Hell, most of them can’t blink in unison. We immediately decanted all of the toiletries into our suitcase and called down for some more. We also ordered room service – we wouldn’t normally be so greedy but we hadn’t had anything since our gold-plated yoghurt and it was too hot to move.

Room service was disappointing. I called up only to be put on hold for a good five minutes and then passed to someone who spoke neither Spanish or English. That’s fine, no problem, but I didn’t have the time to look up the Latvian for cheeseburger (sorry Mags) and two diet cokes. We stumbled around each other before he gave up and handed the phone to someone else. I can only assume he did so for a bet because this chap was even worse – it was like trying to place my order with Ludo from Labyrinth. I was giving it the old college try with my broken Spanish, but no. Nevertheless, after four days, we placed the order and what turned up was dreadful. A pre-BSE beef burger, chips that managed be so tasteless I wasn’t sure I’d eaten them and time-machine salad which catapulted me back twenty years to when my rough nana thought a salad should consist of sliced cucumber, quartered pink tomatoes and the shitty part of the iceberg lettuce (i.e. all of it) tossed in vinegar and cigarette ash.

We gamely tried to choke it down but most of it ended up being scraped into the bin. Paul thought I had tears in my eyes but it was actually my long-suppressed gag-reflex coming to the fore. We lay on the bed for a bit, watched a bit of TV for a bit and must have dozed off because we only came around when the dulcet tones of Susan Calman came bellowing out of the TV. I was confused: if she was on the TV, who was taking part in every single Radio 4 show? Goodness. For some inexplicable reason this seemed to trigger my ‘let’s get the fuck out of here’ button so we moved out on the balcony to admire the views.

Not bad considering the air is 40% Jet2 fuel and 60% Joop

Look at that sea view! It’s like a beach hut in Corsica, no?

I know what you’re thinking – we must have felt like the only ones there! I can’t say this sight filled me with any joy – looking at all these indistinct high-rise buildings towering in front of me left me feeling like a piece of knock-off Lego. In the 50s Benidorm’s fishing industry fell on its arse, leading to the Council approving all sorts of charmless buildings. It worked though – in a rare instance of ‘if you build it they will come’ actually working out, tourists flocked to the city. So, a necessary evil, I guess.

We took the lift and went over the road to the supermarket to get holiday hotel room supplies, namely off-brand Coke and sandwich making bits and bobs. I picked up a packet of something which looked a lot like ham but had no mention of jamón on the packet, but fuck it, I’m a game soul, I bought it anyway. Upon later consumption it had the taste of a teabagged-scrotum – and I finished the lot. 

After shopping, sex and a shower, it was time to finally head out and see what was out there. First stop: the airport to check for any possible free seats. I jest. No, we went to the Red Lion just down the road where we immediately dropped any pretence of staying sober by ordering two double vodkas and cokes. We took our drinks outside to watch the people walk by.

Now here’s the thing: you know what struck me? A glass hurled by a chav. No, obviously not. It was the sound of laughter. Every single person in that bar – and all of the people walking past – were laughing, having a good time, enjoying themselves. I think it’s easy to forget sometimes when you’re being faux-snobbish about Benidorm that people don’t go there for the haute cuisine (thank fuck) or the fabulous architecture but rather because it’s cheap, hot and fun. Just like Paul. Oh and also, everyone was talking to everyone else. People weren’t sitting primly at their tables rolling their eyes and tutting at others but rather engaging each other in conversations and jokes. Hell, we’re the most antisocial pair you’ll ever meet and even we ended up getting involved and it was marvellous. This scene would occur over and over and over in every single place we went to on this holiday and it was such a wonderful change.

Now, the rest of the night was a blur, if I’m honest, because we simply walked along the beachfront and stopped at random places on the way. I’ll save some of the descriptions for a later post. We can chart our progress in photos:

6pm: Happy to be here.

7pm: The look of a man who is terrified how much the charge will be for two double vodkas paid for on a credit card.

I know! It’s like wandering through Florence in the spring, isn’t it? I’m including this photo because it was immediately after we both shat ourselves – just behind that sign was a fireworks display. We (perhaps sadly) thought it was a terrorist attack and we were being shot at. When I got my breath back and asked Paul why he hadn’t run for cover, his reply was ‘eh, I’d rather die than run’. That’s my man!

8pm: sliding. Also, I love how this looks like we’ve taken the photo using Photoshop, but let me reassure you, we DO actually own these shirts and wear them out in public. And yeah, I know my glasses are bent. But so am I, and I could wreck your arse if you made a cheap joke.

We went to a bar and ordered something called a Fat Frog. It was revolting. I think it was a blue WKD, a Smirnoff Ice and a Bacardi Breezer mixed with a Brighthouse payment schedule and a lot of regret. It was like being 15 again, only I didn’t need to tug off the rugby captain to get a drink.

10pm: decay

Midnight: deterioration

2am: ruin.

We finished the night by stopping at The Red Lion on the way back – well, we needed a local. Another double vodka and coke please, barman. We sat down and people-watched. It was great, if incredibly loud, bar one thing that spoiled it completely. A few tables across from us was a young lass sitting by herself tucking into a fishbowl cocktail. Great, why not? Well here’s why: her easily-less-than-two-years-old baby was in the pram next to her, gristling and grumbling away, and she was sitting glued to her phone, cackling at something asinine on Facebook. The only time there was any contact with her child was when she practically burnt his eyelashes off every time her fag-holding hand slumped down off the table. Now, doubtless, I’ll get told off for being judgemental, where was the dad, blah blah, but no: there’s no situation where a kid that young should be in a bar that loud that early in the morning. It’s as simple as that. If he couldn’t sleep, then stay with him in a hotel room – she was paying him absolutely no heed at all. I’ve never been so close to snatching a child – it was only the worry that Ryanair would probably charge me a £55,000 Unexpected Infant Companion tax that put me off.

Didn’t put Paul off though – in a rare bout of gobshiteness, he called her Mum of the Year as he left. She responded with a volley of abuse as filthy as the table her drink was sat on. Pfft. Don’t care. We retired to bed in what would be an early for this holiday 2am. Let’s leave it there!

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


Right, to the recipe, which works wonders as a posh starter or for a taster night or a tapas night! You can use the rubble to stuff a pepper with if you prefer. Or a marrow. Or your big gob. Whatever!



to make chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms you will need:

  • 16 biggish button mushrooms
  • 100g chorizo, finely diced (12 syns)
  • 4 bacon rashers, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp sherry or white wine (not sure how to syn this, to be honest – it’ll be around 2 syns, if that, divided by 16, and most of it cooks off – so I’m not choosing not to syn it)
  • 1 tbsp breadcrumbs (same)
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan (same)
  • ½ tsp paprika

If you want to be super anal about it, work out how many syns in a tbsp of breadcrumbs and cheese and divide it by 16. There’s your answer.

For this whole recipe, we chopped everything in our little Kenwood mini chopper. It doesn’t need to be uniform or fancy, just everything cut really fine. Can’t fault ours – we use it all the time, and it even handled the chorizo well. Just like Paul. Buy one here: opens in a new window!

to make chorizo and bacon stuffed mushrooms you should:

  • preheat the oven to 220ºc
  • chop off the mushroom stalks and – you got it – finely chop
  • add the mushrooms stalks, bacon, chorizo, onion and garlic and cook for five minutes – you don’t need to add oil here as the chorizo will release plenty of oil
  • add the parsley, chorizo and then the white wine or sherry and cook until the booze has evaporated
  • remove the pan from the heat and add the breadcrumbs and cheese, add a little salt and pepper to taste and then the paprika
  • spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps and place on a baking dish
  • cook for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms have browned and the mixture is hot
  • stick a cocktail stick in each one to make them easier to handle and eat

Done! Less than a syn per mushroom. Good for a taster night, a tapas meal or anything else you like!

Want more ideas? Fine! Click the buttons and go!

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J

cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls

Cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls awaits you, but before we get there, we have a small diversion to take via Benidorm. Buckle up folks, it’ll be a bumpy ride. Not interested in our holiday stories? Click the LEATHERY OLD SLAPPER just below to be whisked straight to the recipe.

Pfft, like we wanted her to stay anyway, eh? Let’s do this.


I know that technically that’s not the Spanish flag but honestly, saying as I think I heard one sentence of Spanish in the entire holiday, I thought it was fitting to overlay the United Kingdom flag behind it.

Let me start by reminding everyone that these our own views and that your experience may differ. Whilst I’ll play up our snobbiness for the blog, we don’t really think that bad of folk. Hell there were some sights to be seen for sure, but for the most part it was a decent holiday. Before you light your rolled-up copies of That’s Life and march on my doorstep, remember: shut up.

So, why Benidorm? Why, on the Earth full of beautiful places, interesting cultures and wonderful sights, did we settle on five days in a concrete wasteland full of boggle-eyed Brits shouting at waiters for DOS BEE-URS POR FAV-WHORE? Easy. Paul. The problem I have is that I’m very easily led – work hard enough on me and I can be persuaded to do pretty much anything. Anything, just saying. I once drove home behind a bus with an advert for ladies private healthcare on the back and had to be stopped from booking myself in for a full cervical screen and a hysterectomy. Paul takes advantage of my suggestibility an awful lot, which is why I have a Smart car on the drive and a bumhole like the end of an exploding joke cigar. He had seen me slumped in my chair on the plane back from Portugal, working my way through a rum and diazepam on ice, and suggested we go to Benidorm. He’d watched a programme on Channel 5 and thought it would be hilarious. I was too busy seeing individual moments of time fragment before my eyes to argue, and so it was that we’d no sooner landed, got home and fed the cats than he had the flights and hotel booked.

Great! I spent the next three weeks moaning to all and sundry that it wasn’t my idea of a good holiday place, and, as a result, I could barely get excited for it. If I want to see port-coloured Brits wearing full football kits and kicking in the locals, I need only nip down the road and book myself into a hostel in Whitley Bay, possibly the only place in the UK where the beach is more dog shit than sand. Nevertheless, time rolled on, and here it was the night before our flight and I had to pack. Paul had one job – wash our work clothes so we didn’t have to blunder about when we came back. Easy, yes?

No! He did indeed manage to wash them and hell, they even ended up in the tumble drier right on schedule – but he neglected to check the pockets, meaning our debit cards were treated to a full hot wash and tumble. They were wavy, and completely unable to fit inside a cash machine. This meant that for the entire holiday we had to withdraw money via our credit card which, because banks are bastards, ended up costing more (roughly) than the hotel. Pfft. Imagine the kind words that were exchanged between us. Actually, I just look into those protuberant, wobbling, bloodshot eyes (or try to, one is usually swivelling around like Mad Eye Moody sitting on a washing machine) and all is forgiven. I can’t stay angry with that wee face.

Our flight in the morning was an altogether reasonable 9am, but Paul does love to be at the airport in plenty of time, so usually we end up setting off the previous Christmas to ensure we make the ten miles to the airport without incident. I always mock him for this but for once, he was actually right to tip me groaning out of bed, into the shower, wash me under my boobs and get me dressed because – catastrophe – my car had a flat tyre. Although I didn’t admit it at the time, I later confessed that I thought I’d damaged the tyre when I was making the car bump and groove to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun as I drove home the day before. Taking his car was a no no because we were carrying more than a leaflet with us and thus, there wasn’t room.

What a to-do! I’m sure folks out there more manly or competent than us wouldn’t have spent ten minutes looking at the jack in the boot of the car, wondering whether 6am was too early to wake a neighbour to come and be butch for us or discussing whether to chance a ride to the airport with a flat tyre. In the end, we caved and ordered a taxi. We were told it would be here within ten minutes – it actually took forty, and the unshaven, brutish oik of a driver didn’t so much as apologise. We did spend the entire car ride nodding politely at his stream of racist comments. Paul had to hold me back when he started banging on about the work standards of immigants (sic) – I looked around at his filthy taxi, stinking of smoke as it did despite the no smoking sign, looked at the footwell full of litter and the clock which showed we were thirty minutes behind schedule, and all I wanted to do was to say that if this was the benchmark upon which to compare work ethics, well, the quicker Krzysztof arrived here in the back of a lorry the better.

We didn’t tip.

Newcastle Airport remains a disappointment. It has a few shops but I mean, come on, which joker thought Sports Direct was a good idea? There’s also a kebab house, a Greggs and a poky WH Smith for good measure. I nipped in there to buy some chewing gum and was asked to show my boarding card. For a packet of chewing gum. I think he knew from how loudly I rolled my eyes that it wasn’t going to happen. We went to the only place that wasn’t full of stags and hens – so, so many hens shrieking and cackling – indeed, the only place that looked halfway decent. We ended up paying over £16 for two coffees and two bowls of yoghurt and muesli. I mean, get fucked.

Oh and to top it off, Paul was upset by some braying skidmark in a cheap suit who, when asked to move out of the way as he was blocking the entrance, told him to fuck off. Pfft! Because we’re British and hate direct confrontation, it was only later when I was able to respond in kind – we were stood behind him waiting to pay for our breakfast when I loudly wondered out loud if ‘when your nose hair gets to such an extensive level, do you not consider a combover’. The guy knew we were talking about him because he touched his nose as he left. Let’s hope he develops a complex and ends up old, alone and covered in matted nosehair.

I hate airports – it just feels like everything is designed to piss you off in some way. Security is a ballache – a necessary one, absolutely, but for goodness sake crack a smile, tell a joke, lighten the mood a little – if you’re going to be groping my cock to see if I’m carrying on an extra 20ml of Tom Ford at least be gracious about it. You go into shops and it’s the same shite for sale as everywhere else, only with fake reductions on it, and everyone gets in your way. You get corralled into tiny ‘gates’ where there’s enough seating for the five people on your full flight and then when they call you to the plane, they don’t let you board, preferring instead to keep you penned together at the bottom of a flight of stairs, sweating and collectively tutting away. I know you can pay extra to get into the airport lounges but Newcastle’s lounge is an absolute joke – if you like piss-weak flat prosecco and scrapping over lukewarm Costco muffins with a Grouponed-gaggle of hens, maybe it’s for you. Frankly, I’d be more relaxed if I board the plane freefalling from 35,000ft in the air.

Perhaps I’m just being grumpy. But see, I had two other concerns. Firstly, we were flying Ryanair, and it was just at the time when they had started announcing flight cancellations and all sorts of problems with the schedules. The relief when I glanced outside our gate window and saw they had actually sent a plane rather than a cardboard cut-out to fool us was immeasurable. But the fact that the plane was there at all created another worry – we’d never flown Ryanair but have heard all sorts of horror stories about how they gouge you at every opportunity. I was that ready to be shafted that I’d lubed myself up in the toilets and soaked my boarding pass in amyl nitrates. To top it off, they charge you to sit together – actually actively go out of their way to pull you apart to force you to pay more – and so, out of protest, Paul had ignored this, meaning we weren’t sitting together for the flight out!

Great! I’m not scared of flying but I do like to have Paul next to me so that, if the plane was plummeting towards the earth in a ball of fire and wrenching metal, I could push him in front of me to act as a crude take on an airbag, even if that airbag is full of air that smells of pure, concentrated death. We had speedy boarding so we were the first to be released from the holding pen and we took our seats.

Thoughts? Awful. Listen, Ryanair is very much ‘what it says it is’, but for goodness sake, there’s not even a seat pocket in front of you to put your stuff in, meaning you have to balance your iPad, phone, headphones, water and headphones on your lap. By the end of the flight I was a grade four juggler. Actually, that’s a fib, but I was technically deaf. I’ve never been on such a loud flight. There were no groups of stags or hens – thank God – but everyone was speaking at about twenty decibels more than necessary. I tried listening to a podcast but it’s difficult to concentrate on Sheila Dillon when you’re sat in the middle of a People’s Postcode Lottery advert. People who, rather than get up and walk down the aisle to talk to a family member, preferred to yell down the plane like they were hijacking the flight.

Oh and christ almighty, the coughing. It was like being on a last-chance flight to Lourdes. At one point I was actually thankful for the lack of seat pockets because they’d be full of blackened lung. I hoped for a small fire just to get the oxygen masks to deploy and give their lungs a break. We’re not talking delicately coughing into a tissue here like Satine in Moulin Rouge, but rather, huge rasping barks where you can hear the air-sacs ripping. Half of the time there wasn’t so much as a hand in front of their mouths, meaning the air in that cabin was probably 80% lungbutter particles. I couldn’t bear it and I could sense from the shade of Paul’s ears a few rows in front that he felt the same. Folks, if smoking means you can’t get through a three hour flight without sounding like you’ve just escaped a house fire, give it up! For goodness sake!

Aside from the volume and coughing, the flight passed smoothly – it was canny of Ryanair to make sure we didn’t get a moment’s rest by coming onto the intercom every five minutes to sell us sandwiches, drinks, duty free, scratchcards, perfumes, a 15 minute turn in the cockpit and the odds on the plane having enough jet fuel to land safely. They should have came round with a trolley full of Strepsils, they’d have turned enough profit to pay John Travolta to fly all of those cancelled flights.

We landed safely, if somewhat abruptly, and cleared passport control in mere moments, which was lovely. I was still hoping that someone had slipped a kilo of coke up my arse at this point and we’d be sent home but no, no such luck. We had arrived – for better or for worse. Let’s leave it there and do the recipe though, eh?


This makes about twelve rolls, more if you’re stingy, and make for a nice little tapas style dinner!

 

to make cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls, you’ll need:

  • two aubergines, as big and thick and as phallic as you dare – if you’re not worried about the neighbours seeing them tumble out of your car, they’re not big enough
  • 200g of ricotta (two HEA)
  • 80g of soft goat cheese (two HEA)
  • 25g of breadcrumbs (just use ready made, 4.5 syns – or you could clit about with your healthy extra but zzz)
  • 200g of wilted spinach
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • salt and pepper

In total then, if this makes 12 rolls, you can have three rolls for 2.5 syns and a HEA. You’ll need a griddle pan for the best looking rolls, an Optigrill, or hell, even a frying pan will do it but you’ll not get the fancy griddle marks.

to make cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls, you should:

  • thinly slice your aubergine, lay them out flat and rub salt into each slice – leave for thirty minutes to pull some of the bitterness out of the slices
  • pop your oven onto 180 degrees
  • meanwhile, wilt your spinach – not a euphemism, don’t give yourself a strum in the kitchen – once it’s wilted, chop it fine
  • want a tip? put your spinach on a plate and put a plate on top and squeeze – it’ll get all the water out
  • mix the spinach, ricotta, goat cheese, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper into a bowl
  • when you’re ready to cook, take each slice, pat it down to get rid of the water, and brush each slice with the oil – you only need a little bit of oil per slice so don’t go mad here, I did make the tablespoon last!
  • time to grill your slices:
    • if using an Optigrill, whack the heat sensor up to red and let it get up to temperature – I sprayed the plates a couple of times with spray oil (not Fryshite) – when up to temperature, lay your slices on and cook them until the griddle marks are nice and clear – done!
    • if using the griddle pan or frying pan, same as above – get it out, cook for a few minutes, remembering to turn and take off the heat when the marks appear
  • take each slice, put a teaspoon of the filling at one end, and then roll up
  • pop them all into an ovenproof dish and whack it in the oven for fifteen minutes
  • done!

Easy! Looking for more ideas for quick dinners? Here’s a random collection of buttons that’ll see you right!

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J

 

 

ready steady go overnight oats – a fruity breakfast treat

Ready steady go overnight oats! For the sake of easy searching I probably should have called it ‘fruity tooty’ overnight oats or some other nonsense but hey, I’m a sucker for a catchy title. But first, before we get to the recipe, we’re going back on holiday. If you’re not a fan of our holiday waffle (oh please, you’d eat our holiday waffle without so much as stopping to wipe the syrup off your under-lips), that’s fine, just click on this RUSTY, SEAMEN-FILLED OLD WRECK.

Thank god she’s gone, right? Did you smell her? Smelt like a fire in a rendering plant.

Goodness me, we wrap up one holiday and we’re right bang into the next one. Apologies for the Geordie sidetrack but I wanted to get it out whilst it was still fresh, which weirdly enough was also the same line I used to get Paul into bed when we first met. Ah that’s a fib – it was actually the promise of a McDonalds and a loan of my Family Guy DVD boxset that got him to drop his knickers. Is that a record? We’re two sentences in and I’ve already deviated from the holiday to a time ten years ago? I’ll do my best to stay on track.

click here for part one | click here for part two

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

When you last left us in Copenhagen we had arrived at the hotel, admired the plug sockets and gazed in abject despair that yet again we’d ended up in a hotel whose only British TV channels were Fox News and CNN. I’d sooner take my political and global news from a skidmark on the toilet than Fox News, so we were left with the shrieking of CNN to lull us to sleep of an evening. Don’t judge me, I don’t usually fret about these things, but I can’t go to sleep in a quiet room, lest I hear Pennywise scratching from under the bed. Somewhat shamefully, we spent the evening ordering room service…

Syn free because I used HEB.

 …and then falling asleep, making sure we would be bright and breezy for the next morning.

The next morning rolled around, as you’d expect, and we awoke, as far from bright and breezy as you can imagine. The hotel was faultless save for the fact that the bed was quite small and the air-conditioning somewhat lacking. By somewhat lacking I mean the heat generated from running this clunking beast cancelled out any wheezing chilling efforts it may have made. I had to peel myself away from Paul in the night – like pulling apart two slices of cheap ham – and go snort a line of toothpaste in the bathroom just to cool myself down. We aren’t attractive people at the best of times but take sleep away from us and we emerge from the hotel room looking like we’ve been locked in a cellar for eight months. However, buffet breakfast awaited.

We’ve discussed before how much we love a buffet breakfast – there’s something so appealing about being able to combine a continental, full English, pure greed and Danish delicacies into one wobbling tower of food, isn’t there? In the 80 minutes I had spare whilst Paul was doing his morning poo I’d researched Danish breakfasts and came across (not literally, though it was close) pålægschokolade (gesundheit!) – thin slices of chocolate that are used to top bread at breakfast. My watery eyes scanned that buffet table several times for such a wonder but sadly, no – though there were plenty of hot boiled eggs to slip into our pockets for later. We have no shame: if we learned anything from our trip to Iceland it was that free food is worth keeping as the stuff in the shops is invariably expensive and sounds like a hacking cough when you try and order it. A charming chap in a waistcoat and the full flush of puberty came to our table and offered us what looked like an excised cyst in a little glass tumbler. I asked what it was only to be met with a blank stare and a polite smile. Clearly his English was fluent as my Danish. I passed it to Paul to try just in case it was a rohypnol colada (that way, I’d still get my end away) and he swallowed it like the old pro that he is, declared it delicious, but was completely unable to tell me what it was. To this day I’m not entirely convinced that Paul didn’t just neck back a shot glass of tomato ketchup that the waiter had brought over for our bacon and sausages. Ah well, he’s still here.

I was just finishing my yoghurt and trying to work out whether this place was too posh for me to lick the foil lid (it was, sadly) when an ashen-look swept across Paul’s baggy-eyed face. “We’ve come on a bank holiday!” he cried, to which I pointed out that we’d done the same on his birthday and one weekend back in March, so what was the problem? Delving deeper into his angst, he pointed out that everywhere will doubtless be closed – he’d read about it online and everything. Catastrophe! Of course, he’d neglected to tell us this when we were booking the holiday, but never mind. We decided to just go for a wander, see what was about and do whatever we fancied. Personally, I think those are the best holiday days anyway – I hate being beholden to a schedule of booked trips and ‘things you must do’. I like to walk until my cankles ache and my belly blows out from too much pastry.

So, with nothing but blank hours in front of us, we caught the Metro system to Islands Brygge, a few stops away, and somewhere approximately in the centre of the city. I marvelled once more at their Metro system – quick, reliable and cheap, and not once was I offered drugs, a handjob or the exciting chance to see the inside of my belly on the outside of my shirt. It’s a step-up from Newcastle, for sure. Did I mention it was driverless? Not since our heady trip around the fully automatic Heathrow Pod system has Paul had such a turgid hard-on for mass transportation systems. We alighted and wandered, indeed seeing that most shops seemed to be shut and the streets relatively quiet. Hmm. We decided to walk down to the waterfront – I’m not sure what you’d call it, as it technically isn’t a river but rather the sea cutting through, but I’m sure someone will come along and tell me in an entirely non-patronising way.

After a leisurely mince and a stop for coffee at a peculiar café which saw the ground floor dedicated to the tables for eating and then, upon taking a lift to the basement to use the lavatory, a whole floor full of screaming children and flustered parents. It was really quite unsettling, like I’d stumbled into something terrifically sinister. I’m sure it said nursery on the eighty-nine letter spelling out the café name but who knows. A further wander and we happened across our first activity of the day: solar-powered picnic boats.

What is a picnic boat? Well come on, it’s clearly a boat with a picnic table on it so that you can float about the sea whilst having ginger ale and cucumber sandwiches. We were sold but before I get to it, let me tell you our reservations. I have a slight inner-ear problem which means I’m always nervous of floating about on the water lest I become one of those poor souls who always feel like they’re out on the sea despite being sat at home watching Jeremy Kyle. I know, I’m a fanny. I’m also really quite wary of canals and sluices and weirs and all sorts of man-made water contraptions. I know, as I said, I’m a fanny. On top of that, imagine trying to balance a ball-bearing on the edge of a 50p whilst all the while someone is slapping your boobs around and setting your legs on fire – that’s Paul’s level of personal coordination. Between his boss-eyes and inability to concentrate, he’s not one for climbing elegantly into a boat and then piloting us around Copenhagen’s waterways with any sense of panache. To add another layer of ‘no, this is a bad idea’, it was a particularly windy and overcast day, which is just the ticket when you’re piloting a solar-powered boat without any sails, no?

Well, have no fear – I manned the fuck up, paid the very reasonable £90 for two hours, and after a stern lecture from the bearded chap behind the counter and a frantic search for two lifejackets that would fit us (I offered to stitch together three medium life-jackets but a needle and thread couldn’t be found in time), we were aboard. Naturally, I immediately delegated all piloting (and it is piloting, I’ve checked, you only sail a boat with sails, so fuck you) duties to Paul, made myself comfortable at the back of the boat and immediately started shitting myself as the boat rocked this way and that in the wind. Paul had an eye on our destination which was reassuring – it was the fact his other eye was somewhere down the shoreline that concerned me.

However, what followed was an absolutely brilliant two hours. You can get the measure of a city from walking its streets but seeing it from the water is another thing entirely. There’s a loose route to follow around the canals and you’re encouraged to drift along at your own leisure, taking in the sights. I mean, look at the photo they use to advertise it on their website to get an idea of how relaxing it is:

I mean, you can almost hear the yah-yah-ing and the fizz-plink of an elderflower pressé being opened, can’t you?

Still not as good as our take on it:

That is a spectacularly bad photo of Paul (and me, to be fair) – he doesn’t normally look like Hoggle drawn on a melted candle, so forgive us.

The wind had returned our map to the sea within 5 minutes of our boat setting off (I blame Paul) so we were going in blind, but we spent a good two hours taking in views of the Amalienborg Slot (I’m sure I’ve met her), the lovely opera building, the ramshackle houses and boats of Christiana and the many, many moored up boats that line the canals.

Those people on the left waved at us. I like to think it’s because they had never seen such style and elegance on the water but actually, I think they were warning us of the giant boat coming through the tunnel straight towards us. Pfft.

Copenhagen is awash with beautiful painted houses like this – it’s possibly the most colourful place I’ve ever been. Have a look on google maps at Copenhagen from the air, it’s just amazing.

Of course, it was not without peril, oh no. Thanks to our inability to navigate, Paul’s poor vision and my shrieking and screaming, we ended up with more clumsy scrapes than an alcoholic gynaecologist. That’s fine – they know you’ll probably put a few dings in the side of the boat, it’s expected. We returned our boat looking like Herbie does at the end of The Love Bug and they barely raised a Danish eyebrow.

One thing you must be mindful of is the knowledge that the massive yellow taxi-boats, carrying 200 or so folks around the waterways, have absolute right of way. You stay away. You slow down. You absolutely do not do what Paul did and gun your boat, with its top speed of 6.4km (and that’s when it isn’t laden down with two fat Geordie bastards), in the hope of getting passed. Eee, it was like Speed 2, only with better acting and special effects. We did actually make it past, though I still need to look up whatever ‘klodset kusse’ means in English. I’m sure it means ‘after you, kind Sirs’.

Here’s some more pictures to get you moist.

What you can’t see here is how close we are to hitting a bridge pillar on the right. The air was blue!

The Copenhagen Opera House, as seen from the viewpoint of someone lying down.

I absolutely love this photo – a rare bit of good photography from me. It’s The Marble Church, not Photoshopped.

Bloody caravans, even manage to ruin waterways!

Beautiful, right? The two hours were soon up and so we had to race our way back to the little harbour area to return our boat. As we neared the jetty one of the cheery bearded men came out to wave us in. How canny. I sensed danger. We drew up alongside this tiny wee floating jetty and the man hopped aboard to tie the boat up, telling us to wait until we were tied up before climbing out of the boat. I duly followed orders and sat back down.

However, Paul didn’t get the message, oh no. Whether he was touching cloth, desperate to get on land or just showing a rare bit of athleticism, he made to step out, only for one leg to land on the jetty and the other leg to push the boat away. You know on You’ve Been Framed when you see someone do this and their legs spread apart and they fall in? Yep. Well, not quite actually – in quite literally the deftest move I’ve ever seen him make, he flung himself towards that jetty like he was scoring the winning try for the English rugby team. He was a positive blur of obesity and elasticated polyester. I was absolutely sure he was going in the water but no, he hurled himself down on his belly onto this tiny jetty, arms wrapped tightly around either side, and let out the loudest ‘OH FUCK’ you can imagine.

Well I couldn’t do a bloody thing for laughing, could I? I feel bad retrospectively because I, of course, should have dashed to his side and helped him up, but no. I was bent double with unending paroxysms of laughter, to the point where I almost fell out too when the guy in charge brought the boat back. But you know what was the funniest part? It wasn’t Paul’s face as he realised what was happening, it wasn’t even the loud crack that so much fat makes as it slaps against wet wood, no…

…it was the fact that a little hard-boiled egg came rolling out of his back pocket and came to rest neatly on the jetty beside him, looking to all the world like he’d hatched an egg in sheer fright.

Even now, quite genuinely, if I bring that image to mind, it makes me crack up. Paul took the embarrassment in good humour, he always does, and we both had to sit on a nearby bench to get our breath back, albeit for two entirely different reasons. He’s a good sport, isn’t he?

I’ll leave this entry there for now. It seems like a terrific place to stop. Before I go though, can I just point out that I managed to make a nautical blog entry without resorting to these obvious three jokes that I had lined up in the chamber ready to fire:

  • if there’s one thing we’re comfortable around, it’s a poop deck;
  • the place was awash with seamen, and I bloody love it;
  • tiller? I barely knew ‘er

We’re getting better. Until we meet again…

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


Right, let’s do these ready steady go overnight oats, shall we? They’re ready steady go because of the colours, in case you haven’t quite worked it out. Although frankly, if you haven’t worked that out, you ought to be ashamed.

ready steady go overnight oats

ready steady go overnight oats

to make ready steady go overnight oats, you’ll need:

  • 40g of oats mixed with whatever syn-free yoghurt you like – we’re a big fan of Skyr because you don’t get all the added shite you get with Mullerlight, but all is good
  • one kiwi fruit
  • one mango
  • a good handful of strawberries

to make ready steady go overnight oats, you should:

  • it’s really terrifically simple – mix your oats and yoghurt together
  • chop your kiwi fruit into small bits and press it down into the bottom of your jar or glass
  • add yoghurt and oats on top
  • chop your mango* and layer it on
  • add yoghurt and oats
  • chop your strawberries and top the whole thing off!

Couple of top tips for you. If you chop your fruit unevenly and then just break it up with a fork, you’ll get a bit more juice and it’ll look prettier. Also, you’ll probably have half a mango over – just keep it for the next day or chop it up and make coronation chicken!

You’ll note that we didn’t serve ours in a jar. I know, herecy! But that’s the thing with overnight oats, you can serve them any way you want. A jar, a glass, a sink, serve it alongside the Aurora Borealis…yes, at this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localised entirely within your kitchen!

That said, there’s a nice set on Amazon if you need them!

Want more overnight oats recipe? Of course you do. Take your pick!

Want more ideas? Click the buttons!

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Enjoy!

J

this is nacho normal salad

I’m so sorry, but I can never resist a pun. I just can’t. I’m just glad I’m not a doctor. or I’d spend my days trying to work a gag into telling someone they had six months to live. But why nacho salad? Wait and see. But I have some business to attend to first…tonight’s travel entry, wrapping up Newcastle as it does, is a long one, and if you just want the food, then I’ve created a wee shortcut. Just click the LEATHERY OLD BOOT to go straight to the food…

I’m so glad she’s gone. Did you see what she was wearing? Sweet jesus…


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

Last Newcastle post! I know, I bet you’re so furious you could punch a toilet-attendant for handing you a lollipop, but try and hold your shit together. When you were last with us I’d just kicked Paul’s arse at Kerplunk and Connect 4 and he was crying into his gin. To sober him up and to add a touch of local culture to the weekend, we decided to visit our local museum dedicated to the North East – the Discovery Museum. It’s quite an apt name, as you’ll discover new levels of disappointment as you look at broken exhibit after broken exhibit.

I’ll be there!

No, that’s mean, and I’m being glib. It’s a perfectly fine way to kill an hour or two, even if everything interactive was either out of order or in the hands of a child. I shan’t open that particular wound up again. For the most part it’s about local history, so you get plenty of bits about the Tyne, about the ship-building areas, kids being sent down the mine with only a 20-deck of Capstan Full Strength and phlegm sandwiches for dinner, that sort of thing. There’s a ‘god bless them, they tried’ science lab where you can turn on lights and move handles and press buttons. It’s terrifically exciting, never quite knowing when the next yawn is coming along. We did have fun in the shadow room, mind:

I used to do my studies in here back when I was in the nearby college and I was keen to see if the little café upstairs was still the same – you used to be able to get a jacket potato the size of a sea-swollen foot with beans for £2. But of course not. No, it’s gone down the panini route like most other museum places, where you can get a panini that you could have a full shave together with eight crisps and a token bit of salad that looks like something scraped off the inside of a hamster’s cheek. Haway, shall we not. I had a sweet chilli chicken panini, Paul had coronation chicken, and I think it tells you everything you need to know that we didn’t realise until after we’d finished them that we had choken down each other’s order. That’s how fresh and flavourful they were. Harumph!

There was, at the very least, one saving grace – an exhibition devoted to our local annual funfair, The Hoppings. It promised to recreate the experience of being there, which alarmed me a bit as I didn’t fancy being ripped off by someone who owned eight caravans and seven wives, nor did I want to see Paul get shanked for successfully winning a rigged hook-a-duck game, but we went in regardless. What fun! They had a great collection of old games and creaking fruit machines and we spent a good half an hour wasting our time in there. All of the machines had been gifted to the museum for a few weeks by a group dedicated to restoring them and there was a friendly fella in there talking about them. I love anyone with proper enthusiasm and even my eyes didn’t glaze over whilst he told us about his push-a-penny machine. I was captivated! Paul had to drag me out as he’d spotted the rain that had been plaguing us all day had momentarily stopped, so we dashed out to find somewhere new.

Naturally, the heavens opened the split second those automatic days slid open and we had to dash like the two fat, breathless sods that we are to the nearby station for shelter. Gone are the days we would have cheerfully Ubered that 300 metre dash, and I can’t wait to tell you why…in time…anyway.

Paul took a moment to lead the station in a singalong around the old Joanna…

As we sat and steamed in the Central Station – a beautiful 19th century listed building ruined somewhat by 21st century bastards and the occasional spiced-up zombie – our phones buzzed and Tripadvisor recommended a nearby bar as being ‘right up our street’. It was, quite literally, so we squelched over, only pausing briefly whilst a chap I used to work with bumped into me and I spent a good two minutes trying desperately to remember who he was. Not because he was awful, you understand, but because he’d lost lots of weight and I’ve got a memory like a sieve. Is there a more awkward feeling than someone recognising you like an old chum and you not having the faintest clue? I was hoping for Paul to explosively shit himself as a distraction but his balloon-knot remained tightly clenched. Boo-shucks to him. Anyway, by the time I’d realised who he was it was time to leave, and I left feeling a right rotten bastard. Still, we had a science-themed bar to cheer me up…

…except it didn’t. I’ve genuinely never been served by someone so disinterested and with a contemptuous attitude in Newcastle. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect people to start doing the fucking can-can when we walk in but at least look up from your phone, you prissy column of hair-gel and unmerited superiority. We ordered drinks – as the only two people in there – and were served with all the interest you might give to a scab on your knee. Admittedly we ordered cocktails but we were told (lies!) that these would be fun, science based cocktails served in beakers. We got some syrupy-sweet sour nonsense mixed with tonic and a shitty look. We took our seats at the table, played with the chalk lovingly left for us:

and left before the atmosphere overcame us and we pitched ourselves through the glass windows in despair. Science? He was certainly a fucking alchemist when it came to turning joy into despair.

Luckily, Paul’s nose led us straight to the next meal, hidden away under the arches of the nearby railway. We seem to have a bit of a thing for eating under the arches of a bridge – The Herb Garden is another restaurant which has been stuffed neatly somewhere it shouldn’t, namely under the East Coast Main Line. We ate here on a whim – it was late in the afternoon and Paul was so entranced by the giant pizza oven in the window that it was a done deal before I could finish my ‘but Paul, your thighs’ sentence. We were the only ones in, but that’s purely down to the time of day – normally it’s packed solid, much like we both were afterwards. We were seated and served by a lovely friendly waitress and our food arrived in no time at all. We barely had time to work out who had the difficult job of dusting the lighting down…

We ordered the antipasti selection for two (we wanted to order it for four, but kept our dignity) and it certainly passed muster – tasty cured meats, olives far beyond the usual slop from the supermarkets and decent bread. We tried to eat slowly but it was gone before we could blink: may I stress, we’re greedy.

Given they’re famous for good pizza, we elected for a (deep breath) spinach, egg, pecorino, garlic, mozzarella, olives and basil pizza (£10) and, in a vain attempt to mitigate that cheese, we ordered a flower power chicken salad to share (£12).

They came within ten minutes of ordering and believe me when I say they were as tasty as they look. The pizza – clearly fresh and made to order – was cooked perfectly, with a big gooey egg in the middle. The salad, usually always the bridesmaid to the main meal’s bride, was a revelation to the point where we’ve tried to recreate it at home for the blog and failed miserably. The mix of textures, flavours and looks made this a dish more than capable of standing on its own. I didn’t want to share!

There’s the usual array of sides and appetizers to chomp your way through together with an extensive specials board with each dish inviting us to come back and to hell with the diet. There’s a breakfast pizza called The Fannie Farmer – who wouldn’t want to push their face into that on a weekend morning? Me. That’s who. Never been one for eating sushi off the barbershop floor. We waddled out, content, and wandered down to the High Level bridge to read the graffiti.

Read the graffiti? Why yes, and here’s some choice cuts…

       I can’t see PETA using this as a tag-line.

Brilliant stuff. There was also the usual array of rusty padlocks that people seem intent on leaving everywhere there’s a bridge. Why? I know it’s a love thing but if you feel like your love is only worthy of a view of the Ovoline Lubricants factory and the hearty stench of piss, perhaps it’s time to look again at your relationship. Anyway, we were off to hunt for a rabbit.

Hidden in a corner of Dean Street is the Vampire Rabbit – an odd little curiosity perched high above a door. Why is it odd? Because it’s a menacing looking stone rabbit with bloodied fangs. Because of course. Newcastle’s full of little eccentricities like this and I love it. The best part? It was supposed to be a cute adornment on a fancy door, but one of the owners of the building decided to make it a little more macabre by painting the sandstone. That’s my town.

The final stop on our Holiday at Home was our pre-arranged appointment at Dog and Scone, Newcastle’s first puppy restaurant. Controversial yes, but once you’ve had a puppy pizza you’ll never look back. So much meat on those little legs! Oh I’m kidding, clearly, just before anyone accosts me outside of work and throws red paint all over my best Jacamo coat. Newcastle has had a couple of cat cafes for a while now – somewhere where you can go and stroke cats with a cup of tea. I blogged about one of them and can cheerfully recommend them as a lovely way to waste an hour. But how do you upstage cats? You can’t, to be clear, but someone has opened a puppy café as an attempt to do so. Same principle – have a cup of tea and coo at the gorgeous puppies that frolic about. What next? Perhaps they’ll open a horse café. Ah that wouldn’t work – there would be nowt on the menu, but hay.

So proud of that one.

We washed our hands, took our seats and spent a lovely hour watching the dogs gambol around, chasing each other and hopefully having fun. They did look tired though, and I’ll come back to that later. There was a pug there called Laughing which I fell in love with – there’s something about saggy-jowled, snuffling, wide-eyed bags of barely-breathing flesh that I like, as my marriage to Paul demonstrates. They wrapped the pug in a towel and he fell asleep in my arms which was just lovely. Paul was given a corgi called Coffee which kept raucously farting and then looking at its own anus as if in absolute shock that such a thing could happen. If we ever get a dog Paul wants a corgi but I think that’s ridiculous – if you’re going to get a dog, get a bloody dog, not some silly bugger that looks like a roided-up cat. Oh, there was one little bitch that we didn’t like and who wasn’t on the menu – some foppish waste of skin and spunk who, upon being told the place was shutting imminently, made a fuss about getting a fresh pot of Darjeeling and that really it isn’t any bother at all for the staff to wait around whilst he finished it because he was the customer. Never before have I wanted a dog to bite someone on the bollocks so much. We left at closing time, he was still there being a bellend.

  

It did get me thinking how much money is in just buying a few dogs and a catering box of teabags from Costco and setting up a dog café of my own. Two Chubby Pups. Wags ‘n’ Fags. Puffs and Ruffs? I mean, the list is endless even if your enthusiasm isn’t. We did agree that we didn’t enjoy the puppy café as much as the cat café and let me tell you why – cats can get up on high and hide when they don’t want to be touched or handled, whereas the puppies kept going to their bed only to be picked up again and I genuinely can’t say I’m alright with that. I stress that I have no doubt that they are looked after amazingly well, but if you’re having to wake up a sleeping dog just to parade him about for photos…it left a sore taste in our mouths. Plus about half a dog’s worth of hair. We made our way home and, as usual, were greeted on the path by both cats looking nonchalant. That changed once they realised we’d been petting other animals and it was straight back to indifference and shunning and passively-aggressively licking their arseholes in front of the telly so their paws blocked the sensor on the front. Pfft.

And that’s that! Our holiday in Newcastle, done. Paul’s got some thoughts he wants to share with you all – god help us – and they’ll come next, but let me say one thing – explore your own city! We had such a fun weekend being tourists in our own city, doing things that have passed us by or that we would never normally be arsed to do because they’re on our doorstep – but here’s the thing, unless you open the door, you’ll never see them. Newcastle is an amazing city full of wonderful people – some of us have unwebbed feet, you know –  and I implore you to give our city a go. Paul will touch on it, but we’re so much more than Brown Ale, men punching police horses and Sherrul Curl, thank God. You can get a cheap hotel right in the city centre if you’re willing to go down the Premier Inn route, and then the weekend will be as expensive or as cheap as you want to make it. We’re a big city that feels compact thanks to easy walking routes and a decent Metro system and if you’re feeling adventurous, you could even step out into Northumberland to try our amazing beaches, cracking local food and rolling hills. There’s a pretty famous wall to walk along, you know, and you might even bump into Vera as she solves her crimes in that wee little hat.

If you do, try and tell her that every single sentence doesn’t need to end in ‘pet’, ‘sweetheart’ and ‘love’ and that ‘Mordor’ isn’t a crime but rather where those little hobbits destroyed a ring.

We’d love your feedback guys!


Right, let’s do this not your nacho salad, shouldn’t I? Worth the syns, trust me! Makes enough for four bowls.

to make a nacho normal salad, you’ll need:

  • 400g of extra lean beef mince – 5% or less
  • one chopped romaine lettuce mixed with rocket
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • a cucumber cut into chunks
  • a mixture of gherkins, sliced olives (25g – 2 syns)
  • one onion
  • tin of black eyed beans
  • 160g of grated extra mature lighter cheese (4 x HEA)
  • one packet of doritos (30g – 7.5 syns)
  • one carton of passata (preferably with chilli)

You can buy loads, absolutely loads, of perfect mince in our Musclefood deals where, finally, you can choose what you want to make up your hamper! No more having to compromise! Do it your way.

to make a nacho normal salad, you should:

  • chop up all your veg (bar the onion) and crush up your nachos and keep to one side, like this

  • meanwhile, chop the onion, fry it off lightly in a bit of oil until softened (or Fryshite), then add the mince and cook it off until brown
  • meanwhile again, bubble off your passata to thicken it nicely into a sauce
  • put everything into one bowl (bar the sauce) and mix it all up – then add cheese, crushed doritos and a drizzle of sauce
  • done!

Want some more inspiration? Fine! You know what to do!

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J