cookies and cream overnight oats

Cookies and cream overnight oats! I know, right? We were going to do one of those giant milkshakes that you see floating about but having worked out the syns, we didn’t want to be responsible for Mags having one of her ‘moments’ by her hi-fi bar-shaped pool in Benidorm. So we’ve toned it down and made an overnight oats recipe instead. It’s tasty! However, before we get there, there’s the next part of our trip to Newcastle to read about. Now listen, if you’re not in the mood to read our travel tales, that’s fine. You just need to click on the GIANT BORING TOOL below to be whisked straight to the recipe!

I know, what a stinker! Still with me? Then let us begin…oh and I’m sorry this one is taking ages to rattle through, but when I’m talking about the place I love, words just aren’t enough…please give us feedback. Am I getting the tone right?

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

We awoke bright and breezy at a very respectable 9am and after a quick tidy of the room to ensure that we haven’t left anyone behind that could reasonably be considered fair game for a hotel guest to steal (Paul has to slap my hands away from unscrewing the light fittings and rolling up the carpet) we were out of our room and in reception in good time. The receptionist gave us a ‘you sure, you fat fucker’ look when I told her we had managed to avoid eating anything from the minibar and we settled our room service tab. We’d only had a round of sandwiches and some fizzy water so it came to an entirely reasonable £89,645.

I’ll cheerfully recommend the Hotel du Vin if you’re looking for somewhere fancy-ish to stay. They’re a chain and very aware of themselves, but the bed was comfortable and the room well-appointed. And just think: if you book it now, you might get the same bed as me and you can drift off to the sweet scent of sweet-potato farts and Tom Ford. Careful if you’re ovulating though, two young lads full of the joys of spring inevitably means things were squirted about that might not have caught the eye of the cleaner.

We parked the Smart car under where I work (the joys of working in the city centre: always have a parking space whilst everyone is outside fighting to the death at Christmas) and walked down to the Tyneside Cinema café for breakfast. Now, perhaps a cinema café puts you in mind of the farty smell of popcorn and pick-and-mix with a higher price-per-kg point than saffron but not this place: the food is superb. In a desperate attempt to put right the misdeeds of the night before, we opted for a late breakfast of…

Steak Benedict for me…

…eggs royale for the Missus.

The steak was a decent cut cooked perfectly, with the accompanying hollandaise sauce light and silky rather than the gelatinous jizzy goop that so often gets passed off as a perfect poached-egg partner. Sriracha hot sauce was a nice touch, if only so I could feel alive again. Paul’s salmon was even better judging by the eye-rolling and curious noises he was making. It would have been too obvious to shout out ‘I’ll have what HE’S having’ in a cinema-themed eaterie, so I kept my mouth shut.

Oh! There was a brief but terribly exciting moment just as we were settling up when a somewhat bewildered looking chap came and started banging on the window, arguing with his own reflection. He clearly wasn’t very well but it created a peculiar situation where we had to fuss about with the sugar cubes and the card reader whilst someone screamed spittle onto the window right beside my ear. I felt like an exhibit in a furious zoo. Ah Newcastle, never change.

The plan was to do some shopping but frankly, I see enough of the shops on my lunchtime during the week to warrant me never deciding to go there for pleasure on a weekend. We did stop into Fenwick to look at expensive aftershave I’ll never have and TVs the size of buses, but that’s about it. It’s unusual for me to leave Fenwick without smelling like I’ve been swimming in ladies’ perfume – I go there most lunches with El Ehma and I’m often caught in the airburst from her enthusiastic ‘testing’. Fun fact: her skin is now 90% Creed Aventus For Her. She had to give up smoking before she went up like a roman candle.

Pictured is a statue of Saint Robson Green who protects the Haymarket bus station. The inscription reads ‘haway man, lerrus in man y’awld bitch, I knaa there’s nee busses runnin, d’yis think ah’m a daft c*nt like

The Church of St Thomas, taken by the phone of Saint James

Abandoning the shopping idea, much to the collective relief of the beancounters at First Direct and American Express, we instead lumbered up Northumberland Street to the Hancock Museum, where excitement and tat-buying awaited. I’ve only been here once on a school trip and that was cut short when one of the teachers fell down two flights of stairs and had to be taken away in an ambulance. We never did finish learning about roman pottery and she never walked again, so really, who suffered most? It’s OK, I’m kidding – of course we finished our pottery lessons – they got a supply teacher in.

“Someone should iron you”

The Hancock is a lovely little museum as it happens. Plenty for kids to do – there’s interactive boards they can wreck with their sticky fingers, quiet reflection halls which they can ruin with their shrill fire-alarm voices and there’s even a very well-stocked kids play area which they can totally ignore in favour of running around your legs and shrieking. Honestly, the sooner they make it legal to pack children away into broom cupboards and disused corridors the better. I spotted an old colleague of mine who I used to work with more than a few years ago and with whom I shared a mutual hatred of each other with, so I pulled Paul into the planetarium to avoid her.

She once reported me to HR for laughing too much, I kid you not. I (ironically) had the last laugh though – she got made redundant before me when they shut the quango I worked for down. I tried not to smirk too much as she struggled through her tears to pack her leaving box. I would have helped but hey, she was the worst.

The planetarium was a bust, mind. There was me thinking we’d be exploring the universe together, gasping and whooing as stars rattled past our ears and planets loomed large before us. I mean, it’s a planetarium. You’ll understand my confusion then when I tell you we were treated to a movie all about prehistoric sea creatures that was produced and dispatched back in 2002. In this era of ultra-HD TV when you can actually see the smarm oozing out of Piers Morgan’s nose pores like mash through a ricer it was a proper shock – it was as pixellated as watching the Discovery Channel projected onto a live game of Tetris. We persevered for about ten minutes before promptly falling asleep, only waking forty minutes later when the credits rolled and the lights came back on. Thankfully, aside from the chap sitting at the door in case any fire / excitement / interest broke out, we were alone in our snoring and sleep-farting.

We wandered around for another hour or so, thankfully avoiding my old nemesis. Absolute full credit to the Hancock Museum – it’s a very decent place with plenty of interesting exhibitions and unusually, isn’t dumbed down for the kiddiwinks. I showed my appreciation by dropping a note into the donations box instead of my usual 2p and washer. Paul was aghast.

As a leathery, ancient, black-toothed, beast that terrifies men and is the very last thing you want to see coming at you in the dark, Paul’s mother also likes dinosaurs.

Random question but can anyone identify this actress? She’s famous, I recognise the face, but I’ll be damned if I can put a name to her.

We decided that as we were on a particular roll with the museums that we’d give the Discovery Museum a go, but not before stopping into nearby pub The Hotspur for more booze. Good selection of ales and beer in here, though that meant nothing to Paul as he primly ordered a gin and tonic. The man knows what he wants, I suppose, but it was match day and I confess to being worried about leaving through the window once they realised we were imposters in that masculine world. Actually, it was probably the fact that we were shrieking our way through a game of Kerplunk that would give that particular gayme away.

The key is knowing the right moment when to pull out so you don’t blow your load too early.

The pub had lovingly left some board games on the side to play and, being a huge fan of sticking my rod in and making the balls jiggle, Kerplunk was the obvious choice. I won, and I won the subsequent game of Connect 4 too. Paul’s got all the subtlety of a hot fart at a funeral so the Kerplunk victory was inevitable, but he must have taken his eye off the ball with Connect 4 as he’s usually victorious.

To be fair to him mind, his eyes do work completely independently of each other, so that’s not entirely unexpected.

I had forgotten that I played a game of Connect 4 against John Savident, but here’s the proof.

Now, actually, we’re getting away from ourselves again. Let’s close this post off for tonight and get to the recipe. Hey though, if you’ve read this far, I’d love feedback on the holiday entries – please do leave a comment or email me or whatever. Feedback always welcomed!


Right! Ready for cookies and cream overnight oats? You filthy bugger, of course you are!

 

to make cookies and cream overnight oats, you’ll need:

  • 40g of oats – any old oats will do and now Slimming World gives you 40g to wrap your lips around, instead of just 35g – I bet you feel spoiled now, don’t you? Try and remain humble
  • a vanilla with chocolate sprinkles Muller Light (syn free) – or, if you’re not a fan of all that fake sugar and aspartame, mix 1 tsp of bournville cocoa powder (1 syn) into whatever yoghurt you use – we use Skyr because we’re just so cosmopolitan
  • two Oreo thins (3 syns)
  • Anchor squirty light cream – (1 syn for 12.5g – I’ve just nipped into the kitchen to see how much that is and let me tell you, it’s a really big, enthusiastic squirt) (you do the jokes)

A lot of people ask if these overnight oats recipes need to go in a jar. Nah. Honestly, any old shite will do – as long as you mix them together, you could serve them alongside a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat and nobody would bat an eye.

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

to make cookies and cream overnight oats, you should:

  • mix 40g of oats, a good dollop of yoghurt and one crushed up Oreo together and put in the jar
  • I like to top it off with a little bit more yoghurt on top
  • now, I like to eat it straight away so I add the squirty cream and stick the Oreo in and then eat, but if you prefer to leave it overnight, do, and then add the squirty cream in the morning along with your Oreo and eat!

I’m just saying, but a couple of extra Oreos isn’t going to turn you into ten tonne tessie, so if you were planning on adding a few more crushed up, I’ll never tell…

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

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J

oh so fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps

Expecting fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps? But of course you are – who wouldn’t? It’s a rare recipe of ours that uses seafood AND gasp, barricade your front door, we’re also using avocado. You’ll get people who refuse to syn avocado – we’re two of them, actually – but I’ve counted the syns on here for ease.

Now, because we’re trying to make it easier for folks who just want to go straight to the recipe and avoid all the (hopefully) funny bits, we’re including a button on the longer entries to make it easier for you. If you just want the recipe, go ahead and click on the OLD BAG and you’ll be taken straight there.

Pfft, what a poor sport! Right, let’s crack on with our holiday at home in Newcastle! Last time you we were us we were full of food and ale from The Tyne Pub. The day continues…


 

part one | part two | part three | part four

Full as a bull’s bum and more than a little tipsy, we careered gently into the road and along the quayside to the Baltic, a world-class art gallery built inside an old flour factory.

You may recall that neither of us put much stock in art galleries – we’re about as cultured as the fluff in your belly button – but by god we try in the hope that one day we’ll have an epiphany. A chin-stroking, soiled-corduroy wearing epiphany. It didn’t happen. There was an exhibition…in fact, fuck it, have a look for yourself:

I mean, come on – I know I’m a complete philistine but that’s just shite, isn’t it? It looks like the far reaches of a factory explosion. We wandered around, reading the placards earnestly and hmming a lot, but it was tosh. This will be the final time I ever talk about visiting a modern art gallery on here because it infuriates me. Possibly because I don’t understand, possibly because I tire of trying to wrap my head around stuff that I’m 90% sure someone has just thrown together for a bet, I don’t know. There was a room with a rock hanging from the ceiling over a balloon, supposedly to represent how frail people can bear huge burdens. Pfft. I didn’t dare stand still for too long in case people thought my frail, fat ankles, bearing a huge burden as they do, were part of the exhibition and start drawing me in watercolours. Paul blundered about grunting for a good half hour, equally as disdained as I was.

Nice views though.

 

Next on the tour of the toon was Lane 7, which is a super fancy bowling alley ever-so-beloved of every ‘inspired’ work do from Darlington to Berwick. Seriously, there was a time when if you wanted to bowl, the only chance of getting an opportunity was to train as an estate agent / lawyer / accountant / professional bumfluff moustache grower and hope to be invited to a networking event. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I don’t need to network in my job – it’s all I can do to acknowledge my own reflection when I wash my hands after a piss. However, a new gin bar opened a year or so ago and that seems to have soaked up the ‘corporate do’ crowd, so it wasn’t too busy when we arrived.

I say not too busy, there were two hen parties in there shrieking like their dresses were on fire – and boy does that noise ricochet in a bowling alley. Bowling seemed like an unusual activity for lasses on a hen party to enjoy, not least because it’s usually later on in Newcastle when their pins get split and someone goes at them balls-deep in an alley. Anyway, they were lost in a mist of Impulse and Blue WKD and we were straight on to bowl. It’s a very sleek, very modern alley – not the usual verruca-soaked shoes and sticky floors, but rather lots of wood and lights and fanciness.

I won, as you’d expect, and to celebrate I sent Paul to the bar to get us some mystery drinks. He came back with two bottles of Hooch. Hooch! A bloody alcopop. I had to remind him that we weren’t at a school disco but actually, isn’t it weird how just one taste of something sends you back to being 13 and full of burgeoning puberty-fuelled hormones? It’s why I can’t bear the taste of communion wafer.

Anyway, all the sugar from the Hooch made Paul come back from behind (story of his life) and he took the second round. We were being tight so had only sprung for a couple of games so we had to settle it once and for all with a round of mini-golf. Happily Lane7 had not only thought of a very clever name (try writing it out and turning it upside down – won’t work if you haven’t progressed beyond bubble writing) but had also had the foresight to build a mini golf course in the basement.

We were straight down the stairs but again, I was left disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – it’s cool to have a mini-golf course to play on, but it was small and had no obstacles. Do you not understand how much I yearn to shoot in a clown’s mouth, or knock my balls around a tricky tunnel? For the thousandth time in our marriage I managed to put Paul off his stroke by fluffing an easy finish, and yet he finished victorious. I hate it when Paul wins anything, he has perfected just the right level of smugness in his ‘oh it was nothing’ face that really ires me. He knows it too, that’s what makes it worse. I choked back ten years of resentment and hatred as black as pitch and we requested an Uber back to the hotel.

I say we requested – we did, and it took the chap twenty minutes to navigate no more than 600m of road – we watched him drive up and down without stopping, turning at the top and coming back. We tried waving him down but no success. To this day we have no idea what his game was – perhaps it was like when a plane has to land with failed landing gear, he was burning off fuel to compensate for our fatness sliding in – but when he eventually turned up he didn’t have the good grace to apologise. Actually, perhaps he did apologise, I confess my Afrikaans to be somewhat lacking. It took us another twenty minutes to get to the hotel as he had no idea of the roads and seemed intent on ignoring both the sat-nav in the front and the fat-navs in the back, all of us giving gentle, strained instruction to his sweet, unopened ears. It was like being on one of those Hop-on-Hop-off buses, only with the scent of a Yankee Candle vent air-freshener burning our nostrils.

I wanted to try the Cigar Shack but Paul didn’t fancy listening to me gasping and wheezing through the night so he stamped on that idea. Doesn’t seem to mind when it’s me having to listen to him choke on his own fat-collar. Pfft. So, we napped, rutted and changed our clothes (well, you have to make an effort on holiday, no?) and set off for our final venue of the evening – The Stand Comedy Club. I’ve been before as part of a works night out and it was brilliant fun, but this was Paul’s first time. Not his first time laughing – he’s seen me naked bending down to pick up a coin off our tiled bathroom floor – but certainly his first comedy club.

The plan had always been to eat upstairs but actually, by the time I had roused Paul from the land of nod, there was no time to eat properly, so instead we got a burger that dripped all over our faces and chips to dip in our cider. We had great seats, near enough the front to see the strained smiles, far enough at the back for the comedians not to pick on us and make mean-spirited jokes about my effete mannerisms and Paul’s tits.

And oh, what a night! Perhaps we were lucky but there wasn’t a bad act out of the four that trooped on, whose name I can’t remember but whose jokes I’d steal if I thought I could get away with it. I have so much respect for anyone who can stand in front of a crowd of unfamiliar folk and make them laugh and all of the acts managed it. The guy introducing the acts has probably the hardest job of the lot given he’s got a cold audience but the whole room was awash with proper hearty laughing. The only duff note came from a young lass whose whole act consisted of trying to be kooky – there’s an awful feeling of awkwardness when jokes don’t land – but hey, she had bigger balls than me for getting up there in the first place.

Best comedian of the night was a local lad called Mike Milligan – he writes for our local Chronicle newspaper (he’s about the only one on their staff who does) and was full of local reflections delivered in a proper Geordie language. Everything sounds hilarious when it’s spoken by a Geordie – I’m surprised they haven’t thought to add a laugh-track onto episodes of Vera. Paul finds the language especially comical, presumably because he’s from Peterborough where they haven’t progressed away from grunting and crude hand gestures. If I ever need to break up with him I’ll just tell him ‘way ah’m filin’ fer a divorss ye bastard‘ in my very best ripped-off-her-tits Denise Welch voice and he’ll be slapping his knees whilst Pickfords load the telly into the lorry.

We drank loads from the cheap bar, laughed until I genuinely had chest pains, and had a great night out. If you’re looking for something different to do in Newcastle, or indeed your own city, dig out a comedy club. Everyone likes to laugh. ACTUALLY, that’s not strictly true. I invited someone I used to work with to a comedy club for a night only to be told ‘I don’t like comedy’. Ah yes, that old chestnut. Isn’t that like saying you don’t like wanking or eating? Pfft.

With aching sides and straining bladders we requested another Uber who, thankfully, knew what and where he was going – he drove that taxi like he had a bomb under the passenger seat but by god we were in the hotel and in bed in no time at all. Paul and I that is, not the Uber driver, though he did look the sort to be a rough lover and a kind cuddler. Ah well, maybe next time. Goodnight!


Right, shall we get to the wraps, eh? This makes enough for four.

fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps

fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps

to make fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps you will need:

  • 4x Weight Watchers white wraps – or you know, use some common sense and get a similar wrap in terms of calories and fibre and you’ll be fine
  • 150g cooked prawns
  • 1 ripe avocado (14 syns)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 little gem lettuce
  • 1 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (1 syn)
  • 1 tbsp Hellman’s Tomato Sauce sweetened with Honey (½ syn, normal tomato sauce is fine – just add on an extra ½ syn)
  • half a cucumber

At the time of writing there’s a big fuss on about those wraps because by spooning corned beef and potato into them, you’ve inexplicably made a cornish pastie. If you’re struggling to find them because some biffer has put 100 packets into her trolley, just use something similar. For ease, I’m synning these at 3.5 syns a wrap, but actually about 3.75. If you’re that anal, though, re-examine your bloody life!

to make fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps you should:

  • slice the avocado and scoop out all the lovely flesh, mash in a bowl and mix in the lemon juice so it doesn’t go manky
  • next, mix together the prawns, mayonnaise and tomato sauce and set aside
  • pull off the leaves from the lettuce and give a quick wash
  • slice the cucumber into ribbons using a peeler
  • assemble the wrap by spreading over a quarter of the avocado mix, topped with the prawns, and then the leaves and the cucumber

We know avocado is a controversial choice – if you want to make this skinnier, just slap on some light Philadelphia instead

Still hungry? Get clicking any of the buttons below to find more of our recipes!

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J

proper cheesy crunchy chicken parmo

Chicken parmo! We’ve done something similar but really cracked it with this one. A parmo is a dish originating from Middlesbrough consisting of a chicken breast smothered in breadcrumbs and cheese sauce. Plus other things – knowing Middlesbrough there’s probably about 5g of Golden Virginia scattered over it – but this is a close approximation. Bloody tasty too. But first…

Sorry, sorry – you guessed it, we’ve been away again, and it’s not as though I can announce it on here before I go because we’d doubtless get some reprobate with teeth à l’orange nipping in to steal our silver and verbally abuse our Alexa. I mean honestly. Plus, I’m writing this against the odds because I have a cat sat in front of me blocking half the screen and severely burned shoulders from too much sun. Before I get angry letters, I know I know: normally I’m super careful, but the drink overtook me. You’ll find out more about that holiday later down the line but let’s rattle off the next part of the Newcastle entry without a moment more of hesitation. If you don’t want to hear our holiday shenanigans, click on the SOUR GRAPES to be taken straight to the recipe.

Otherwise…

Now when I last spoke to you we had been busy exploring the Victoria Tunnel and I had made a malicious, mean comment comparing this foisty cavern to Paul’s mother. I apologise for my humour:  it’s a bit stuck in the eighties, it rarely makes people laugh and god knows Paul’s sick of hearing it, but that’s Paul’s mother for you.

We emerged blinking into the sunlight and full of zim for the day ahead. But first: MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Paul had decided to wear a snappy new pair of ‘yes, I am part of a senior citizen tour group of Milton Keynes’ cargo shorts (in a very fetching chyme colour) and the two hours of walking and sweating had left his thighs looking like a child’s skinned knees. Whilst it explained why the tour guide had asked the group if someone was cooking bacon at the back, it also meant we couldn’t easily explore. Well, no, I could, but it meant having to listen to Paul’s plaintive mewing about the paaaaaaaain. Oh, the pain. We doubled back to the hotel, levered ourselves into the Smart car and cut a dash straight to Byker Morrisons.

You must understand that I avoid Morrisons at the best of times – something about their lurid yellow signage and cluttered font makes my nipples ache – but the one in Byker is especially bad. You’ve never seen so much red flesh pressed into mixed polyester. We took a moment to peruse the medicine aisle for something that would cool Paul’s thighs – my suggestion of a Muller yoghurt was ignored (BUT IT’S SYN FREE) – and after much stumbling around the haemmorhoid creams and the clotstoppers, he found some lanacaine. We nipped into the gents (you know a supermarket is classy when they have that lovely lighting that makes it impossible to find a vein to shoot up with) and smeared it on Paul’s thighs like butter on a cellulite crumpet. They say you can still hear his satisfied groan bouncing around the arches of Glasshouse Bridge.

The day was ours once more. We parked the car back at the hotel and decided to try and find The Kiln, a restaurant hidden up in the Ouseburn. After a few arresting detours via a gym, a scrapyard and this particularly great bit of graffiti:

we found it. Bearing in mind it was hot and we’d spent all morning traipsing through a tunnel, we were starving and ready for our thirst to be slaked and so the sight of lots of bottles of beer all lined-up ready was enough to bring on a stiffy. However, that sharp went away when we were faced with incredibly dismissive and half-hearted service – we stood at the (quiet) bar for a good couple of minutes before we were served, weren’t offered the food menu, weren’t told where we could sit, weren’t advised on anything other than “£11” when we ordered two beers. Here, we’re the least demanding customers you’ll ever have and because we get anxious about causing a fuss we tip extravangantly, but even we have limits, and being treated like an inconvenience is high up that list.

Also, £11 for two beers? Local yes, but haway hinny, it’s Newcastle, not St. Moritz – if I buckled my ears enough I’d be able to hear the sound of a live Jeremy Kyle show rattling in the Byker Wall. Nevermind…

We paid and, sensing that we couldn’t have been less welcome had I shat on the bar, we made our way outdoors, taking the only free seats (after moving the previous occupants dishes out of the way) next to a particularly loathsome set of students. Listen, I’ve made it my thing this year to stop judging folk, I am trying, I promise. But Jesus Christ Almighty. These weren’t decent students, fun students or you know, normal students, but rather the rah-rah-raaaah set. Some walking shitshower was loudly describing his poster project as ‘mere organic foreplay for the main thrust of the movie’ – Paul had to hold me back from drowning myself in the half inch of hipster-hops I had left. Someone else was going on and on about her periods in that inexcusable ‘look at me, saying something controversial so you have to look at me, but oh my god don’t look at me’ way. Here’s a thing, pet: no-one cares what sloughs out of you, no-one is impressed by your edginess, and your glasses look like you’ve rushed out of an eye-exam halfway through. Fuck off.

We supped up and left – I took my time though as I wanted to make sure I had a fart queued as I stood up. I left them to chew that over. In the interest of balance, the online reviews of the Kiln are exceptionally positive, so maybe we’d crashed a wake or something.

Luckily, the next two places were infinitely better. First, the Free Trade Inn. I love this place – it used to be our local when we lived on the Quayside and is just a great pub – dirt cheap, no fussiness, the occasional local who looks as though he’d punch your nose through the back of your head if you sneezed and blew the head off his pint from across the room – spectacular. Nothing better than a room full of malcontent and meanness, though I tend to switch to pints instead of campari when ordering. Up until recently they had adopted a pub cat called Craig David. You’ll notice a past tense there. Life’s cruel. It also have a terrific view, see?

We had a couple of gins and tonics there and stumbled down the stairs, a bit squiffy at this point, to The Tyne, a pub under the arches of the bridge above it. We were starving by now, so I sent Paul in with strict instructions to order something a) bountiful and b) healthy. He ordered us nachos for two that almost filled the table and the vietnamese loaded fries that we ripped off a week or so ago.

There was also some sort of citrus beer involved, and things start getting a little hazy at this point, like a badly-tuned TV. I heartily recommend both pubs though – The Tyne also a free jukebox which Paul had to hold me back from. I’ve had two bad experiences with free jukeboxes, would you believe:

  • my friend and I got into a proper physical (one-sided mind, I’m a gentleman) scrap with two busty lesbians in a gay bar when we ‘accidentally’ switched the machine off and on again when we couldn’t bear to hear sapphic-superanthem ‘Left Outside Alone’ by Anastasia for the eighth time in a row; and
  • different friend, similar situation, only this time I queued up Abba song after Abba song in a bar where the inhabitants had one full set of teeth between all twenty of them – it was very much a Meat Loaf, Foreigner and Whitesnake bar – not a drunken rendition of Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) sort of place. We escaped into the night, drowned out by shouting and Anni-Frid caterwauling her lips around Knowing Me, Knowing You.

Probably for the best that Paul kept me back.

 

We ended up sharing our outside table with a few other pleasant, decent young people with an adorable dog, though I could have done without them vaping away next to me as I ploughed my way through the nachos. Difficult trying to get the guacamole to chilli ratio just right in a cloud of custard-flavoured steam, I find.

Now, let’s leave it there – we’re already nearing 1500 words again and we need to get the recipe out!


Chicken parmo, then. Dead easy.



to make proper cheesy crunchy chicken parmo you will need:

I put this down as 1ish syns as well, I’m not synning that errant quarter. Up to you how you want to do it. And yes, I’m wheeling this out again:

WHASS PANKO PLZ HUN. I beg of you, if you have that question, click this mysterious link… Panko is not this:

to make proper cheesy crunchy chicken parma you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • spray the chicken breasts with a little oil and plop onto a baking sheet
  • cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, then remove
  • butterfly the chicken breasts by cutting through the side until nearly all the way through, then spread open like a book (they might be pink in the middle – that’s fine)
  • in a bowl, mix together the Philadelphia and garlic, and a good grind of both salt and pepper
  • spoon the mixture onto chicken breasts and spread about
  • in another bowl, mix together the panko and parmesan, and sprinkle evenly over each of the chicken breasts
  • return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden

Given it’s normally served with chips, red sauce and a fingering, we had to dial it back to make it more friendly for dieting, so we’ve served ours with a portion of our amazing roasties and some beans. Champion.

Gut still rumbling? Click one of the buttons below to get even more ideas!

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Cheers!

J

chicken cordon bleu burgers

Here for the chicken cordon bleu burgers, which are so-called because god-knows-why? I understand. Far too many Slimming World burger recipes out there that have all the texture of an old gym mat. This, however, does not, and you know why?  We use chicken breast minced up ourselves rather than that watery muck you get in the supermarket that they cheekily call turkey mince. But first, speaking of mincers, it’s part three of our trip around Newcastle. Don’t want to read it? Scroll down to the food pictures…

click here for part one | click here for part two

When Paul first invited me to explore a foisty, smelly, starved-of-oxygen tunnel that has welcomed thousands of men from the 1930s onwards and now exists cobwebbed, abandoned and occasionally leaking, my first thought was that he could have warned me his mother was visiting and the second was ‘Classic Peterborough’. However, once I’d finished dry-heaving into my eggs benedict and Paul had reassured me that we weren’t about to be visited by his Mother Inferior, I realised he meant the Victoria Tunnel. Thank the Lord. We dressed in suitable tunnel-exploring attire (i.e. my work shoes and a thin coat – we’re Geordies remember, we won’t put on a second layer until at least two layers of skin have died in the cold) and we were on our way – by happy coincidence the tour started a mere five minutes away from our hotel. Naturally, we were five minutes late.

What is the Victoria Tunnel then? It’ll cause no gasps at all if I tell you it’s a tunnel, because, well, it is – but it has an interesting history. It was originally built in the 19th century to transport coal from a coal mine at one end of Newcastle (Spital Tongues, which I’ve always thought was a glorious name because it sounds like one of the made-up diseases you’d get in Theme Hospital) (which was a far better game than Theme Park and I’ll kick the tits off anyone who disagrees) down to the Tyne, where waiting boats would take it away. I had desperately hoped that the tunnel was used to get rid of the after-effects of burning coal in a boiler because then I could have used the killer line ‘…not the first time filthy slag has been deposited on Newcastle’s Quayside’ but it wasn’t to be. When Hitler started getting a bit rumbustious in 1939 the tunnel was hastily converted into an air-raid shelter, capable of taking thousands of men at once at the drop of a hat. But aren’t we all?

After the war finished and victory was declared the tunnel was closed until 2008 when a load of lovely folks – most if not all in some form of knitwear, I imagine – applied for a grant from the lottery, carefully repaired the tunnel and opened it up to guided tours. It’s listed as the number one attraction for Newcastle on Tripadvisor and I find that absolutely charming: I think of the money that gets spent on massive multiplex cinemas or exciting galleries and then look at this wee little tunnel full of absolutely nothing and it seems to captivate everyone who enters. I reckon that’s down to the volunteers who run it, and so, I’ll pick up my story back at the beginning of the tour.

We were warmly welcomed by a chap whose name I’ve already forgotten (purely because these days it’s all I can do to remember to blink) who sat us down in the waiting area around a table seemingly filled with furious looking people. Admittedly we were late by a moment or two (we’d made up some time power-mincing down the bank) but each pair of eyes conveyed the strong message that if either of us collapsed with heart difficulties down in the tunnel, not a single soul would attempt resuscitation. A couple of the kids looked like those awful children who speak in elongated vowels and whose triple-barrelled surname would wreck every form they ever completed. With my beard smouldering from the sheer force of ill-will we were experiencing, we turned our attention to our tour guides who were explaining the health and safety rules – no smoking (sensible), no going off on your own (correct), no entombing folks you don’t like down there forever (Fenneeeeeer!) and no eating. Paul looked stricken – he had a packet of Polo Mints burning a hole in his pocket. I told him to keep schtum. The reason there’s no rats or spiders down in the tunnel is because there’s no food for them to feast on, something which caught me by surprise as I’ve never seen someone from Newcastle walk more than 300m without dropping Greggs crumbs around them like greasy dandruff. We set off.

The tour begins at their visitor centre out on Lime Street and involves a short walk around the Ouseburn Valley, taking in sights such as Seven Stories and the chimneys. I used to live down on Newcastle’s Quayside a decade ago and the gentrification of the Ouseburn Valley was in full swing – I like to think that the ruffians were so taken by my fetching Florence and Fred shirts and effortless style that they thought ‘we could do that’. The river Ouseburn runs down through the burn and trickles out into the Tyne. Way back when, the riparian businesses (long since gone) dotted around used to tip all manner of chemicals and literal shite into the river, where it would eventually flow out to sea to bother some far-off Scandinavian country. The glitz! It had previously been a pretty overgrown burn under the bridges with a couple of decent pubs about and any manner of drugs available. I’m told. Now it’s still a bit ramshackle, possibly by virtue of being in close proximity to the rougher parts of Byker (if Newcastle was a slender runner’s leg, Byker is its gravel-filled knee), but full of galleries and pubs and quirky (for quirky, read ‘mildly hipsterish’) places to eat.

That’s not me jogging, in case you’re wondering.

We don’t just have fancy bridges in Newcastle, y’knaa.

Your Majesty.

Newcastle Council spent £4.7m to install a set of gates at the end of the stream to, amongst other reasons, keep the water level high to make the place look more attractive. Naturally, this barrier worked for a few months, and then…didn’t. It remains permanently open now, allowing the water in the stream to disappear into the Tyne twice a day, which in turn leads to the attractive sight of a smelly, almost drained river-bed to enjoy as you walk to the entrance of the tunnel. I’ve done a bit of research into the barrage to see why it hasn’t been fixed and it turns out that it does still work, but they just keep it open otherwise silt builds up behind it and stinks the place out. Dammed if you do, dammed if you divvint.

I’m digressing again. Our companionable host talked us through an excellent potted history of the area and led us up to the entrance of the tunnel on Ouse Street. We were given a hard-hat and a torch and you need to believe me that I’ve never felt so butch. I was a hi-vis jacket away from drinking too much and striking the children. We both struggled with getting the hat on – Paul because he has silly sausage fingers and couldn’t get the strap to loosen and me because I have a colossal, elephantine head. You know that thing David Cameron has where his face looks as though he fell onto a high-pressure tyre-inflator? I have that, and subsequently every hat causes me difficulty. I finally managed to extend the strap far enough to balance the hat on my head (just) and into the tunnel we went.

The turtle couldn’t help us.

You’ll float too.

Can I just stress how unflattering the light is? Paul doesn’t normally look like he’s fashioned from Trex. I like the angry eyebrows my glasses shadow has given me though. Please send us a stamped addressed envelope if you want an A2 laminated version to practice your snail-trails on.

Now, I’ll say this. It’s very hard to make a tour of a tunnel interesting via the medium of text – we walked for about 90 minutes, stopping and starting to hear stories from our two tour guides. Historical tours have a tendency to be dry, I find, with too much focus on the ‘facts’ of the matter, but this one was smashing because it told you of the people involved and their stories. It makes all the difference. What paints the better picture: someone droning on about brick density or someone telling you how, when everyone was sheltered in the tunnel, an incendiary bomb hit one of the sugar tanks in a nearby factory and the resulting fire resulted in a load of caramel being made? Which was great for the rationed, starving kids – at least until the diseased rats started chewing on it. There was an especially ghoulish part towards the end where they told the tale of three chaps who were caught at one end of the tunnel whilst an out-of-control coal-wagon (itself almost the exact size of the tunnel) hurtled towards them from the other end. Our guides turned off the lights for thirty seconds so you were stood in absolute blackness contemplating how it would feel to hear the rumble of your own approaching, almost-guaranteed death.

I have to confess the dramatic moment was somewhat ruined for me by the sound of Paul crunching a Polo approximately 8mm from my ear. In the dark it sounded like a horse snacking on gravel and even though I couldn’t see them, the heat registering on my face told me we were the focal point of the group’s angry stares once more. Meh.

We walked up a steep slope (fear not, fellow fatties: the slope, though steep, is short and we managed it with hardly a problem, though the guy in front did have to put up with me shallow-breathing in his ear for the next ten minutes) to be told about further tunnels that lay ahead, sadly out-of-bounds, and how the toilets worked and illness spread. It was fantastic. We made to walk back out of the tunnel with Paul and I, usually the cow’s tail (always at the back), leading the way. Naturally, I banged my head on a particularly low part of the tunnel at the top of the slope, leading to the sight of my hard-hat bouncing merrily away into the darkness. It made such a cacophony of bangs and crashes that, for the third time that morning, the skin on my neck started crinkling from the ire of the crowd behind. It didn’t help that each ‘for goodness sake’ tut from behind sounded like someone firing a musket.

Thoroughly chagrined but pleasantly informed, we all made our way to the exit where, after tipping the guides and assuring everyone in the group that we’d never meet again, we all dispersed. I did plan on writing up the full day but, having spent 1700 words telling you how we went into a tunnel and back out again, I’ll not bore you further.

The Victoria Tunnel is open for guided tours only and tickets must be booked in advance. We took the two hour tour and the time flew by – the volunteers are incredibly knowledgeable and made the whole thing very interesting indeed. You can find more information by clicking here and I strongly encourage you to do so. Don’t be put off by the idea of a long walk, it’s not bad at all, though you may struggle if you’re claustrophobic, although one of the guides will whisk you straight back to the entrance if you start getting the heebie-jeebies. It thoroughly deserves its number one spot on Tripadvisor!

OK I know, gush much.


Let’s get straight to the food. This makes enough for four burgers, see.

Got a bit of a wide-on for our chips? Of course you have. They’re Actifry chips. Not Actifaux from Aldi, not the Airtower or the Hairdryer or whatever you’ve managed to hide in the pram dashing out of Wilkinsons, but a good old fashioned Actifry. Get decent potatoes, use a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of worcestershire sauce, and you’re sorted. Life’s too short for shit chips man, buy an Actifry whilst they’re cheap.

to make chicken cordon bleu burgers you will need:

  • 4 wholemeal buns (HeB), sliced (yes, we’ve used a brioche bun for the photo because, well let’s face it – they taste nicer. If you do the same, remember to syn it!)
  • 400g chicken breast (you can use chicken mince if you want, but chicken breast is better – the ones in our Musclefood deal are excellent!)
  • 12g panko (2 syns) (normal breadcrumbs will do)
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • good grind of salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp seasoning of your choice (we used a steak seasoning mix, but use whatever you like – cajun, fajita, garlic – whatever you want!)
  • 4 slices of ham
  • 4 slices leerdammer light cheese (2x HeA, so half a HeA each)
  • 2 little gem lettuce

Oh god I can hear it now. I can. WHASS PANKO PLZ HUN. I beg of you, if you have that question, click this mysterious link… Panko is not this:

to make chicken cordon bleu burgers you should:

  • if you’re using chicken breast (which you should, because it tastes better!) chuck it into a food processor and pulse until it has a mince-ish consistency. This won’t take much doing – be careful not to over do it
  • mix together the chicken, panko, paprika, salt, pepper and seasoning into a bowl and mix well
  • divide the mixture into four and squash into burger shapes
  • next – cook the burgers. we used our Tefal Optigrill for this and it worked a treat but you can do them under the grill too
    • for the Optigrill, press the ‘Burger’ button, wait for it to heat up and cook until the light is Red
    • otherwise, preheat the grill to medium-high and cook the burgers until they’re done, turning halfway through
  • add the lettuce to the bun, and top with the burger, then the cheese and then the ham

If you can’t get enough of our recipes, just click the buttons below to find even more!

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J

one-pot half-syn homemade bacon baked beans

Here for the homemade bacon baked beans? You should be, because they’re delicious. Absolutely one of the best side dishes we’ve made and served on good bread with a proper fresh egg, it’s just pure sex. Oh and it’s a one-pot recipe with no particularly awkward ingredients. What’s not to love? Look at this gif I’ve made for you and tell me that you haven’t just had a rush of blood somewhere moist.

But come on. You know there’s no chance of us going straight to a recipe, especially when I’ve got part two of the Newcastle holiday straining in my boxers just needing release. So, here we go…

click here for part one

So, where was the first stop on our Holiday at Home? An escape room! I know, we’re terribly predictable, but we love them so and had heard excellent things about Exit Newcastle on Westgate Road, so here we were. An escape room is where a group of you are placed in a ‘locked’ room and you have to solve mysteries in order to get out. It’s like Saw, only with a lot more props bought in from Wilkinsons.

We had actually planned on heading to the grandly named ‘Crystal Maze experience escape room’ that we’d seen floating about on facebook but the disclaimer that we’d need to be physically fit enough to squeeze through narrow spots and do some slight climbing put paid to that. We’re not that unfit but at the same time my life could do without someone livestreaming a group of firemen buttering my flanks to try and squeeze me into a tight hole. No, for that video, you’ll need to click incognito mode on your internet browser and do some serious searching. We were shown to our ‘cell’ by some lovely dapper chap with excellent hair who thankfully saw that we didn’t need anything explaining to us and left us to crack on with stopping Newcastle getting blown to bits by some mad scientist. Of course.

It was great. I shan’t ruin the fun for anyone by giving away the twists and turns but there were some really inventive puzzles and creative uses of props which we adored and I was complimented, for possibly the first time in my entire life, on my mad-sick sport skills. See, Paul had drained the batteries on one of the puzzles leading me to fix it with brute force by utilising a pipe to act as a hockey stick and swiping the ‘thing’ we needed to get at from underneath the cage it was held in. I’m not saying it was world-changing but I reckon they’ll still be watching the replays with gasps and astonishment as you read this. We solved the mystery with minutes to spare and Newcastle was saved. As Paul fannied on taking pictures I gazed down at the streets below and wondered if all those passing below had sensed how close they had come to utter destruction. My guess, as I watched one member of a hen party pretend to frig herself off with a giant inflatable cock whilst her friend took a steamy piss behind a large wheelie bin, was that they didn’t.

I can’t recommend Exit Newcastle enough – have a look, give it a go. We did it as a couple but they can handle large groups too. 

After saving the world we tottered down Pink Lane (given its name as it used to lead to the ‘Pink Tower’, one of the seventeen towers on the wall that used to circle Newcastle, and not because it’s where all the prostitutes used to hang about which is the well-known rumour) – and into The Bohemian, a vegetarian / vegan restaurant that had come up time and time again when we searched for ‘healthy evening meals’. I have to admit that I had reservations, namely for 8pm. But also, what to expect from a vegetarian restaurant? Would they have anything to satisfy this bloodthirsty monster? I can’t enjoy a meal unless it’s been salted in its own tears. I’m jesting, of course, you’ve seen how we cater to vegetarians on the blog, we’re big fans. Not ready to stop eating meat but certainly more and more open to the idea. Anyway, in my head, I was expecting meals that tasted of farts served to us by folks who looked like streams of milk, hissing at the bright lights of the city outside and handing us food with wrists bending like overcooked spaghetti.

Well, shut my hole. It was wonderful. The restaurant itself was small and eclectically decorated with all sorts of tut and nonsense, the staff were quick to serve but that level of discreet attention that’s hard to find and the food was delicious. We shared a quesadilla and some tempura vegetables for a starter. As usual, I’m always slightly deflated by the fact my starter isn’t the same size as a bus steering wheel like it is at home, but that’s certainly not the fault of the restaurant. For the mains, I went for a spinach and cream cheese pizza. I asked what the cheese was made from and when he replied ‘nut milk’, Paul kicked me hard under the table, knowing I was a split second away from going ‘OOOOOH YES PLEASE, MY FAVOURITE, GOBBLE GOBBLE’ with a bawdy leer. He’s like the filter I never knew I needed. Paul chose a pulled jackfruit kebab, lured in with the promise that this slow-cooked fruit tasted and had the same mouth-feel as pulled pork.

 They were bloody right! It was lovely. We had promised to share our mains 50/50 but I had to keep engineering more and more elaborate excuses to get Paul to turn around so I could steal more of his food: no easy feat when you consider Paul is a man who wouldn’t turn away from his dinner if someone set about his back with a flamethrower. He cracked onto my ruse when I accidentally hurled my fork to the floor for the third time and that was that. I’ve looked into getting some jackfruit for some recipes on the blog but frankly, it’s a ballache. If Waitrose don’t deliver it, I’m not having it.

We accompanied our meal with plenty of lurid cocktails, each one more fruity and decorated than the last. It’s been many a year since I had a drink with a tiny push-up umbrella in and let me tell you, I regret nothing. The sight of those tiny umbrellas gives me the willies ever since a good friend of mine told me that they use something similar to test men for “morning drip” down at the clap-clinic. In the umbrella goes, perfect, but ooh when it comes out…

For the record: they don’t do anything of the sort. So if you’re sitting fretting with a bad case of crotch-crickets, get yourself away and be tested. You dirty bastard.

The bill came to a reasonable £65 and we paid in good cheer, staggering gently out into the night. Have a wee look at the menu here, if you’re interested. We decided that, given we had an early start the next day, we’d walk back to the hotel via the Quayside, taking in a couple of drinks on the way. But first: The Eagle.

Newcastle has a pretty decent gay scene for a city of its size and, more interestingly, there’s a strong blurred line between what were originally ‘gay’ bars and what are now ‘anyone’ bars. I’m not talking about those gay bars which get invaded by gaggles of hens shrieking about cocks and telling everyone with a faintly debonair air about them that ‘THEY’RE WASTED ON MEN’, but rather just excellent places to go ‘be yourself’, regardless of what you like to bump your genitals against. To me, it’s how it should be and is absolutely where the world is going, and that’s just grand.

That said, I’m not one for the more flamboyant bars in our pink triangle simply because I struggle to hear myself speak over the sound of air being sucked over two hundred pairs of teeth as we struggle to fit through the door side-by-side. With that in mind, we elected to go to The Eagle, which is ostensibly a ‘bear’ bar catering for the more husky gentleman (i.e. we’re fat, so we grow a beard to hide the chins and dress like a lumberjack because Jacamo have a bit of a hard-on for checked shirts).

The Eagle is an interesting place – at first it looks like a little sinbox full of hairy blokes and brutish looking men, but then you hear most are as camp as everyone else and there’s a giant 55” TV showing naked men behind the bar. It’s hard to decide on a local ale when you’ve got a giant penis pulsing away behind the barman. We ordered drinks and sat down at a table to admire the view. Oh there’s another interesting layer, quite literally, to the Eagle – have a trip down the stairs and it’s a full-on sex floor, with people cheerfully bumming away merrily in dark corners. You don’t get that in a Wetherspoons, that’s for sure. I only went downstairs for a packet of roasted nuts and by the time we resurfaced it was Tuesday.

Come again? Yes.

We decided to move on after a couple of drinks and not a moment too soon – there was that much amyl nitrate floating about in the air that we were both two deep breaths away from making our bar stools disappear like a magic trick. We wandered down the hill onto the Quayside and just casually took the night air, stopping for a drink in the imaginatively named ‘The Quayside’ followed by another in the Pitcher & Piano.

I’ll say this now: I can’t bear the Pitcher & Piano. It is positively awash with the type of people who think they’re classy but who have ketchup with every single meal. The air was thick with laryngealisation and showing off. I used to think I was ever so sophisticated having a quiche and a cocktail in front of the Tyne, for goodness sake, but now I’d sooner take my chances drinking the river from the  riverbed now than go back. Bleurgh. It always comes highly-recommended – it needn’t bother. Watch Geordie Shore, add a few Malberri handbags and that shite half-shaved Millennial Combover that so many walking douche-bulbs have and you’re there.

However, something far more our scene loomed just over the Millennium Bridge – Jesterval. No, I don’t know what it is/was either, but there was a big pop-up tent with dry-ice and 2Unlimited blaring out of it. We practically floated over that bridge on a cloud of Lynx-Africa-scened nostalgia – though we did stop for this excellent photo:

Amazing, right? It’s like you’re right there! If you’re wondering what settings I used for such a snap, it was done with a Samsung S8+ and a slight falling over on the stairs.

Turns out Jesterval was lots of things but, more importantly, the pop-up tent was a ‘social club disco’. We paid our ten pounds and bustled in, completely ignored by the two doormen guarding the entrance. Just once I’d like to be roughly tackled to the floor and made to feel like a lady. He didn’t even comment on my sketchy knock-off trainers, but then see technically we were in Gateshead so he was probably surprised to see someone with their own teeth. The disco was great! We didn’t stop long because we’re old and our cankles were already hurting but we had a couple of drinks and attempted to dance, which is usually a no-no for us. We had to stop when a concerned bystander called an ambulance for us ‘to be on the safe side’. Luckily there was one of those trucks that look like big silver suppositories parked just outside offering more booze for a very respectable £8,799 a pint and we finished up the evening under an IKEA blanket watching everyone stagger home. I had hoped that if we sat under the blanket for long enough that someone could start throwing coins at us or press a cup of hot soup into our hands but no. We wandered back to the Hotel du Vin, ignored the plaintive mewling of the Room Service card, and drifted off to sleep. Next time: tunnels, holes, booze and hipsters. Sigh, I know.


Now, homemade smoky baked beans. A boring recipe you might think, but trust me – these are an absolute doddle to make, syn-free and delicious. You can add more speed in the form of peppers if you wish or leave them out. I don’t care. The reason I’m making these is because I bought a tin of Heinz Bacon Beans in the supermarket and was full of excitement to try them, only for it to be the most disappointing moment of the year (second only to Paul saying we’d better leave the Eagle else I’d have no lips left). They were Schrödinger’s Beans, managing to be entirely tasteless and ridiculously sweet at the same time. I hate it when you get your hopes up only for them to be cruelly dashed by people fakin’ bacon. So I set about finding a decent recipe to make my own and here we are. The recipe itself comes from Thomasina Miers’ cookbook which is full of fancy things to cook at home (click here for that, credit where it’s due), and I promise you now it’s an easy, one-pot dish of glory.

This makes enough for eight large portions – but it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, so have it for breakfast and lunch. Tastes better left overnight too!

to make homemade bacon baked beans, you’ll need:

  • 3 tins of haricot beans, washed of all that gloopy bean pre-cum you always get in tinned beans (you can use fresh, but it’s a ballache) (I ended up using 1.2kg all in all – remember, just scale our recipe back if you want to make less)
  • a big head of garlic (we used smoked black garlic from Morrisons, but you absolutely don’t need it for the recipe, normal garlic will do – though the smoked garlic made it super tasty and it’s only about 50p more)
  • two large red onions
  • two sticks of celery
  • 200g of bacon (smoked is better again)
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika (now this is worth getting over and above paprika, but again, the sky won’t fall in if you don’t have it)
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes
  • 2 tins of chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp of worcestershire sauce
  • 250ml of beef stock
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup (4 syns, between 8)
  • salt and pepper

Hey, if you can’t find bay leaves, oregano or smoked paprika, don’t worry, just improvise. You can buy loads, absolutely loads, of bacon 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.

The only things you’ll need for this recipe is a good, thick-bottomed casserole pot (this is the beast we use) that you can use on the hob and oven (though you can just transfer the beans into a normal dish to hoy in the oven if you haven’t got one) and a microplane grater for all that stinky garlic.

to make homemade bacon baked beans, you should:

  • wash your bean, wipe your hands down and then get in the kitchen to start on dinner
  • 😂
  • cut your celery, bacon and onion into small chunks, though don’t stress about being neat – you want small pieces, not a work of art and then gently saute in your pan with a few sprays of oil
  • grate five cloves of garlic (dial back on this if you’re not so keen) of the garlic in with the onions
  • let everything gently sweat and mingle then add the chilli flakes and herbs and sweat for a few minutes more
  • add everything else, stir, season to taste
  • add 250ml of beef stock, give everything a good stir, then lid on and into the oven
  • keep an eye on it, you might need to add a bit more stock, but really you want it to dry out like the picture
  • eat it however you want, but this really is amazing on good bread with a fresh egg in the morning after

Enjoy!

Recommend this to your friends but with a FAIR WARNING: this makes you fart like an absolute trooper. Want more recipes? Natch. Click the buttons!

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J

the best Slimming World carbonara bar none

You want a perfect Slimming World carbonara? Of course you do. You’re a person of excellent taste. But first…

Expecting Copenhagen, were you? Please. I’ve got something much better lined up this week – I’m interrupting the Copenhagen posts to slide in a few girthy entries straight from my home town, Newcastle.

Yes, we’re having a holiday in our own city. A huuurm away from huuurm, if you prefer. Let me explain why. At the start of the year we were trying to come up with ideas for different sorts of holidays and Paul had the bright idea of not going ‘away’ but instead, seeing our city through the eyes of a tourist. I thought that was magical – how often do we ignore what is on our doorstep in the pursuit to get away to foreign climes? Plus, any holiday where I can speak the language is always a plus, even if Paul struggles with the finer points of the Geordie tongue.

I’m resisting the urge to make a rim-job joke within the opening paragraphs, though fair warning that such resolve will crumble like a wet Rich Tea by the end of all of this.

The original plan was to stay at the worst rated hotel in Newcastle followed by the best – but we couldn’t do it. We’re not snobs, no no, but I do rather like having teeth and I think that this would preclude us entry into the lowest-ranked hotel. Have a look at the reviews and tell me I’m wrong. I draw the line in sleeping in someone else’s blood, especially when I haven’t caused it myself. The flipside of this was that we almost booked into Jesmond Dene House but sadly, they had no availability. We flipped a coin and decided on the Hotel du Vin, which was decent enough middle-ground and far away from the Quayside to rule out having to listen to chavs fighting in the Travelodge.

I’ll also say how timely this trip was – a couple of weeks ago we got a horrendously rude message from someone having a proper go at us for ‘showing off our holidays’ when ‘she couldn’t afford to even leave the house’. Honestly, this is unfair – we work bloody hard for our little holidays and you better believe we’re as tight as a camel’s arse in a sandstorm between them. But even so – you don’t need to go anywhere ‘far’ to have a holiday. Stay at home and make a weekend of going into town and doing all the tourist things and I guarantee your eyes will be opened. However, if you’re reading this seething because we have the temerity to write about our personal lives on our personal blog, tough titty!

The night before – actually, at roughly 11pm the night before – Paul told me that we had no clean clothes for the weekend as all our washing was hanging on the washing line outside in the pouring rain. Ah great. He then went to bed with a headache meaning I had to throw all our clothes in the wash and then arrange for the afternoon off the next day so I could come home and iron. Honestly, you’ve never known glamour like my life. I rushed home, rushed around ironing, rushed around cleaning, rushed around making sure we’ve packed the eight hundred chargers that come with us, and then, after a quick check to make sure I’d forgotten absolutely everything, I was away.

The Hotel du Vin is one of those hotels that is charming, comfortable and pleasant, but a little too try-hard. If you’ve ever stayed in the Malmaison – where they pour on the ‘sexy weekend away’ schtick with such vim that I’m surprised they don’t have someone installed in the lift to suck you off as you select your floor – you’ll know what I mean. Everything is ever-so-slightly tacky, both in sound and feel, and always puts me in mind of somewhere an ageing accountant would take his impressionable secretary for a steamy, 10-minute affair. Perhaps I overthink things. The Hotel du Vin dials the sluttishness back a bit and replaces it with ‘hey, we’re cool, we’re hip’, because nothing is cooler than a verruca-covered bath mat to stop you tumbling out of the shower and signing a damage waiver form for the car-park, and is slightly better for it.

The last time we stayed in a Hotel du Vin was the night before we got married. The good thing about being a gay couple is that there’s no angst about seeing each other the night before the wedding, which was great as it meant I could get one last bout of unbridled, unmarried sex in, though I did have to make it quick as Paul had only gone out for a few minutes to get some ice. I attempted to joke about this with the lady on reception as she checked me in but all my ‘jokes’ were met with the strained smile of someone for whom I was nothing more than a mere obstacle between her desk and her car. I enquired about an upgrade only to be told that such a thing was ‘inconceivable’ and that we really ought to get a move on. She showed me across the courtyard to my room and I settled in, for once able to enjoy a holiday hotel room without having to hear Paul talk me through his bowel movements as he ‘tests out the facilities’. Watching Tipping Point without my eyes watering like I’d been chopping onions filled with mustard gas was a revelation.

The room itself was pleasant enough save for the fact it faced out onto a courtyard full of braying hoorays all guffawing and spluttering about their latest stock conquests and other such flimflam. I’d spotted online that the hotel has a ‘cigar shack’ and it was sat there in the courtyard – it sounds like a lovely way to spend a couple of hours until you realise it’s a wicker ball full of people with blue-grey lips and orange-tinted fringes choking on their Lambert and Butlers. Between the braying and the sounds of people bringing up their hockle, the window had to remain firmly shut, which in turn meant the room was far too hot for comfort. Can’t knock any points off for this though, we’re perpetually too hot in hotel rooms – I like the bedroom chilled to the point where my balls freeze like clock-weights. Never managed to find that setting on a hotel air-conditioning unit and indeed, this one was no exception – it whirred and gasped but made barely any difference to the room temperature. It was quicker and more efficient to crunch a few Polos and breathe out.

Paul joined me moments before I Alex Mack-ed my way through the floor through heat exhaustion and, after a shower and a good, unashamed poo, off we went into the night. The beauty of Newcastle is that it’s quite a compact city – most places can be reached within a generous fifteen minute waddle, although I’d exercise caution if the thought of steep gradients leaves you pre-emptively clutching at your heart. Don’t let it put you off – you can jump onto the bright yellow electric buses that whirr about serving the Quayside, or an Uber from the hotel to the centre of town is about £4. You can use a local taxi firm if you desire, though I find that you have about a 1/5 chance of getting a load of spittle-flecked rhetoric about immigrants to go with your taxi ride. That said, I had a lovely taxi driver take me to the hotel who wanted to set up his own blog writing taxi stories – if you’re reading this, please do! You were funny and it made a pleasant change for me not to have to nod my way through a conversation about tits and football like I care, understand or could possibly relate.

Off we went – and we’ve got some bloody good blog entries coming up over the next few days to cover this…


Right, shall we do the perfect carbonara recipe? Yes. Why is it perfect? Because it’s not made with bloody Quark, bloody natural bloody yoghurt or some other random ingredient that adds nothing to the taste other than make the dish look as though it’s already been eaten. Remember we’re trying to move towards ‘proper’ food and this is a perfect example of that – syn-free and delicious and made properly. This makes enough for four normal portions or two big fat bowls of deliciousness. Remember to share!

to make perfect Slimming World carbonara you will need:

  • 350g spaghetti
  • 140g bacon medallions, diced
  • 60g parmesan, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (a microplane grater is the perfect tool for the garlic AND the parmesan in this one – if you haven’t got one yet you’re missing out)
  • 1 egg, plus 4 yolks

We used the medallions from our fabulous Musclefood deal in this and they were a corker – you can see all of our excellent deals, including a new pick ‘n’ mix one right here

to make perfect Slimming World carbonara you should:

  • cook the pasta according to the instructions, keeping aside a cup of cooking water and drain
  • meanwhile, cook the bacon bits until they’re nice and crispy
  • add the garlic and cook for another minute, then remove from the heat
  • in a bowl, whisk to together the eggs with 50g of the parmesan to make a nice yellow thickish paste
  • pour the egg mix into the spagetti and stir well, add a tablespoon of the cooking water to loosen it a bit, and add a bit more if you need to – the heat of the pasta will help to cook the sauce
  • add the bacon and give it another good toss to mix it in
  • serve, and sprinkle over the remaining parmesan

Still wanting to stuff your hole? Just click one of the buttons below to be transported to even more recipe ideas!

porksmall lunchsmallpastasmall    slowcookersmallovernight-oatstastersmall

Part two coming soon! Enjoy!

J

roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad

Don’t worry yer boobs: the roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad will follow shortly, so try and keep your girdle on. But first, it’s part two of our trip to Copenhagen, land of swearing children and amazing sandwiches. But even before we get to that know that this might all be cut short again by my new office chair collapsing under me – we finally caved and bought a new one after almost a year of crippling back-ache and slowly sinking into the carpet as we typed/wanked/twanked. However, in our haste to get out of Costco before spending our annual wage on bulk-buying baked beans and Pepsi Max Cherry, we bought a cheap office chair without looking at the instructions. How foolish: there’s a weight limit of 15 stone. I’m closer to being a straight black lady than I am under 15 stone. The whole thing is creaking ominously under my arse. It’s like the time we went to Disney and took a Segway – the weight limit was a good four stone under my weight. Did it anyway. You’ve never felt guilt until you’ve made an autonomous self-balancing scooter shriek with pain.

click here for part one

When you last left us I was barrelling down the plane stairs on my arse like a low-budget Indiana Jones skit and Paul was looking disdainfully at me. No concern, ever. I could have been sucked straight into the engine and he would have merely tutted and wiped the resulting James-jam off his face.

Let me tell you, that certainly wouldn’t have been the first time.

Oh, and I forgot to post our typical photo from the aeroplane, so here we are. I know it’s a pretty pat photo but hey.

After our recent experience of waiting approximately four years to clear security at Charles de Gaulle airport, we were naturally concerned about clearing security, not least because my bladder was at full ‘strain’. I couldn’t go on the plane – it was an old easyJet plane with the packed in seats and once I’m sat down, that’s me for the entire flight come hell or controlled descent into high water. However, thankfully, the wait was minimal indeed and, rather unlike our visit to France, the customs people were cheerful and didn’t look at us visitors to their fine country as though we’d swam up through the sewer. Oh and the best bit about Copenhagen Airport? You have to walk past all the people waiting to board the flight back home after their holiday. Don’t you lie to me, you love it as well: getting to grin and wink and do the ‘WAHEY I’M ON HOLIDAY’ walk whilst they stand there looking as though they’ve been told they’ll be sat in the cargo hold for their flight. It doesn’t work the other way – when I’m stuck in the queue for my flight back home I’m silently wishing everyone traipsing in with their bright sunglasses and cheap suitcase an awful holiday. I know, I’m a sod.

That said, Copenhagen Airport does have a down-side (at the moment, at least) – they seem to land the plane in Belarus, given how long the bloody trek was to get our suitcases. I swear halfway to the luggage hall I had my passport stamped and my pockets searched. I’d made the fatal error of not wearing a belt ‘for comfort’ meaning I had to do the hike in that awkward ‘trying not to let my trousers fall down’ gait that all of us men know. I desperately tried to get an erection just to hold my trousers up but all the blood was rushing to keep my heart pumping, for shame. I had to beg Paul to go on ahead without me whilst I decamped to the toilet to dispense of what felt like Kielder Water from my bladder. I’ve never felt relief like it, I swear – the entire English rugby team could have rushed into that cubicle and tugged me off and it would have still paled in euphoria to that piss, I can tell you.

Seven stone lighter and considerably less sloshy, I resumed the hike through Lithuania, caught a ferry and undertook a seven hour taxi ride to arrive at the luggage hall where OF COURSE, Paul was nowhere to be found. He’s a hard man to miss, given he looks like a pillbox in Jacamo slacks. I searched high (in that I looked up) and I searched low (in that I sat down) and waited fifteen minutes. I had his phone in my fag-bag so I couldn’t call him, so waiting it was. He appeared twenty minutes later, flustered and beetroot red, to tell me he’d gone back to look for me, like I was a cat in a house fire. How the hell we missed each other I don’t know, but I can only presume that the gravitational effect of two large, planet-esque bodies approaching each other at equal speed on opposing travelators caused a fat-rift in space and time. I pushed him a little further and it turned out that whilst he had been looking for me, he’d also decided to get himself a hot-dog on the way. Did he get me one? Did he balls. It’s OK, we’re starting divorce proceedings soon.

Having located our luggage we made for the exit, jumped on the local train to Ørestad station and then switched to their wonderful, driverless Metro system to take us a few stops to Bella Center St station, where our hotel loomed large in the distance. Their metro system is amazing – driverless, reliable and cheap. We bought a three day Copenhagen Card allowing us unlimited use of their transport systems for about £80 each – seems expensive until you realise that it includes entry to all sorts of tourist places around the city, including Tivoli Gardens, which would normally cost £15. I’m telling you this because we completely bloody forgot about the pass and paid full price everywhere. I had to put Paul on the game for a night just to fund our shenanigans, but he came back in desperate need of lip-balm and owing £240.

It amazes me that other cities get transport so perfectly right. The metros (and trains) were spotless, they turned up exactly when they were supposed to and you didn’t need to sell a kidney just to get into town. Compare that to Newcastle’s Metro System – it costs a bomb, the trains always smell like a cheesy cock and the only perk you get is that you might not be punched in the teeth by some smackrat off his tits on spice. Oh, and that’s only when the bloody system is working. I follow our local paper on Facebook and I swear I read at least two stories a week where the rail infrastructure has failed because it’s too hot, too cold, too windy, too icy, too busy, too quiet, 2Unlimited or Tupac Shakur. I’d no sooner rely on that to get me to work than I would a bicycle made of steam.

Anyway, I digress. As ever.

Paul had picked the hotel and, as usual, I had no say in the matter. It’s the only way these things work – he has to pick the hotel otherwise I spend so long dithering and umming and aahing that we’re desperately trying to secure a booking somewhere as the plane taxies down the runway. I worry about picking the wrong place, see – it only takes one bad review on Tripadvisor and I’m comparing the place to Beirut and stroppily demanding somewhere else. Which, on reflection, is daft: I couldn’t care less where I eventually end up, but see, there’s always some new hotel, some better hotel,  just waiting around the corner. That’s why I keep checking out…forty points if you get the reference. The only input I have now is for Paul to call out the price, the star rating and then, once he has the nod from me, he books it. No fussing about! It works for both of us.

For our few days in Copenhagen Paul had picked the  AC Hotel Bella Sky and I swear he’d only picked it because, well, look at it (apologies for the quality, Paul took it on his Nokia 3310):

It looks like two cornflake boxes squaring up to one another for a scrap, doesn’t it? Even more confusing is, as you walk towards it, the perspective shifts and the walkway that joins the building at the top looks as though it’s at a forty-five degree angle. It hurt my eyes looking at it, although the bountiful clouds of weed smoke drifting over from a nearby bus-shelter took the edge off somewhat. Fair play to Paul – once we were inside the hotel it was gorgeous – very modern and stylish, which is exactly what I like from a hotel. I don’t want ‘home comforts’, I want to spend twenty minutes trying to figure out how to turn the light on and what all the little switches next to the bed do. I was especially taken with the plug socket, who seemed positively delighted to see us:

The chap who had checked us in – Lego haircut, charming smile, come-to-bed-and-destroy-my-hole eyes – had followed up our request for a high floor and gave us a room on what used to be the ladies-only floor. Tsk, honestly, you offer one blowjob in exchange for a better room and you’re pegged for life. There was an awful amount of pastel pink in the corridors but the room was swish and fancy and just look at the view:

I know, right? I’ve never seen such an extensive cruising ground. As ever, Paul tested out the facilities, I grimaced for a good twenty minutes and then we had a wee sleep, tuckered out from our luggage-hall shenanigans. We’ll pick this up next week – I apologise that once more I’ve eked out 1500 words and we’ve only just arrived at the hotel. What are we like? The next holiday entry will be a bit of a change of pace – instead of detailing our adventures chronologically, I’m going to write about key places we visited. Hopefully that’ll plug my verbal diarrhoea, but who knows? Until then, I welcome feedback always.

Finally, did you know we have three books out, all of which contain our travel stories from times gone by? Why yes! In proper paper form and Kindle, no less. Have a look and take us on holiday – we’ve got over 170 5* reviews between them!


Shall we do the roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad, then? You know we should. Here’s the thing: if your idea of a salad is a bit of lettuce, half a tomato and a cucumber with a splash of vinegar, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Dinners like that leave me wanting. But if you make a proper fuss from your salad and use interesting ingredients, then they’ll become a proper meal. This, would you believe, is a Heston Blumenthal recipe. I’m not his biggest fan – he looks like a thumb with glasses on – but this turned out tip-top. We’ve tinkered with it to make it SW friendly. This makes enough for one, but double, triple or quadruple it accordingly. Fatty.

roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad

to make roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad, you’ll need:

  • a decent handful of rocket
  • 30g of good Gruyère cheese (HEA)
  • 3 slices of decent parma ham (1.5 syns)
  • 25g of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • one large peach
  • one tablespoon of Tesco Honey and Mustard Light dressing (1 syn)

to make roast peach, parma ham and Gruyère salad, you should:

  • pop your parma ham in the freezer whilst you do the initial bits of this recipe – it’ll be easier to slice when you get to it
  • dress your rocket leaves in that dressing – obviously – don’t go mad though, it’s meant to be very light
  • just lightly boil your vinegar (said that before) until it goes thick and fairly stiff (said that before) – you don’t need to do this if you want
  • take your peach and slice it in half, removing the stone, and spray it once or twice on the flesh side with good olive oil
  • get a decent non-stick pan and get it up to medium heat, placing the peaches flesh-down so they lightly caramelise, then remove; OR
  • use the grill on your Optigrill to grill them – press temp control until it is red – but don’t close the lid – just ‘sear’ the bottom of the peaches
  • either way, once they’re cooked, slice the peach thinly
  • thinly slice your Gruyère – I recommend using a potato peeler for this, saves the faff
  • slice up your parma ham
  • assemble on the plate as shown above
  • drizzle with your balsamic glaze if you want

If you have leftover Gruyère, you could always make our bloody amazing cheesy rosti!

That’s it! A gorgeous salad with lots of different textures and tastes. Some SW hardnuts will probably tell you, between blowing flakes of eggy brownie at you, that you should syn the peach because you’ve heated it up. Up to you – personally, I think it’s bollocks. If it makes you feel better, put it in the fridge to cool down and that’ll cancel out any hot syns, making it fine. See how silly it gets? 300g of cooked peach is 5 syns, and you use nothing close to that here, plus it isn’t cooked through. Frankly, I wouldn’t syn it for all the tea in China.

Happy? Want more ideas? Something fancy? Click the random buttons below!

porksmallfakeawayssmall lunchsmall sausagessmall

Cheers all. Remember to please leave me feedback if possible on the holiday stuff! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

J

cooling summer gazpacho – full of goodness

Here for the gazpacho? I have bad news – it’s right at the bottom of tonight’s blog entry, and, for the first time in ages, it’s a new holiday story! You may remember we’re doing 12 holidays this year? If not, we are, and whilst we have a few already under our sleeve waiting to be typed up, you can join us in Paris, having a wet weekend in a seaside caravan and er…on a coach trip. That didn’t end well…

Does it feel like forever since we whisked you away with us, seeing the world and tripping the light fantastic? Weeks since we popped you in our suitcase like the optimistic bottle of lube that all married couples bring along? Pfft. Listen, we can’t bring you – I’m a tightarse Geordie: I need the lube but I don’t need the extra luggage charges for being overweight. We travel the world with one Amazon Basics trolley-bag between us. We’re light-packers, which is halfway to what we were always called at school. Well you know what they say, if the cap fits, bend over…OH AND REMEMBER, I really LOVE feedback on the holiday entries. It makes me happy!

So where are we off to? Unless you’re especially slow-witted, you’ll have spotted Copenhagen on the banner there. Copenhagen – Denmark’s capital and only a mere two or so hour flight from Edinburgh. We chose it for one reason: Rick Stein went there for a ‘long weekend’ and sold it so well that we had the tickets booked an hour later. We’re shallow, but at least we’re honest.

No need to fuss about with the pre-holiday details – we were flying from Edinburgh (again), we argued over who should drive (again) and I won, meaning a nice steady drive up into Scotland in the evening after work. As a treat I had finished work early and created a wee little picnic (in a proper hamper, no less: remember, I am gay) full of exciting treats from Lidl. Paul’s partial to a bit of brie so I went overboard with the brie and grape sandwiches, packing four a-piece. We could have been dashed from the road into a ditch en-route and still had enough food to see us through the cold months. Be prepared – that’s the Scouts motto, isn’t it? I wouldn’t know, I never went. Frankly, unless they gave out badges for tossing off the local farmhands, I’d have been wasted.

Paul finished work late meaning it was getting dark as we set off and, unbeknownest to him, the cheese sandwiches had been sweating merrily away in the back of my car for a good few hours. Please, you mustn’t worry – I have an iron stomach, and Paul needs to lose some weight so a bout of the shits would be just the ticket. We drove for a good ninety minutes or so before deciding to find somewhere nice to sit and eat our nicely-warmed-through picnic. Paul spotted a layby that looked out over the sea on the other side of the road and I dramatically swung the car across the A1 and parked up. The view was marred by a lorry that was parked facing us (to be fair, he was on the right side of the road) but we thought nothing of it.

Until he started wanking merrily away. Not subtly, not with the little curtain drawn, but rather standing crouched over in his cab, pumping merrily away. He knew we were there and could see – I can only assume he was an exhibitionist – but that takes some balls, doesn’t it? Taking a gamble that the two lads in front of you are homosexual and might have a passing fancy in what you’re busy choking. I wonder what gave the game away? I removed my ‘BEEP IF YOU’RE A FELCHER‘ bumper sticker ages ago, but I can only assume it was the sight of Paul daintily spreading Boursin on the water-biscuits that set him away.

Look: I’m no prude. Nor is Paul. We’re both very open about our predilections and normally the sight of a lorry driver putting on a show like the world’s sauciest Punch and Judy act would at least give us significant pause. Had it been a decent looking fittie in a hi-viz jacket then the lights of our car would have been flashing away like we’d accidentally lit a box of fireworks in the glove-box. But, no, this guy looked like the type of man you just know puts his hard-drive in the microwave every time the police drive up his street. We primly packed away our sandwiches and the rest of the picnic into the boot and drove on.

We spent the night at the Dakota Edinburgh, with me having decided to upgrade us into a nicer hotel than the Soviet-Bloc experience we had endured at the little ibis back in February. That’s not fair, it was perfectly pleasant. I was over-the-moon to arrive there at 10.30pm – thus not getting the benefit of the nice room at all – but we had a good sleep and were through Edinburgh Airport in no time at all the next morning. No-one sat next to us on the plane meaning we could spread out, the take-off was smooth and the drinks were being served in record time. All good.

The flight takes a couple of hours so, whilst you’re here, let me regale you of a few facts that I learned about Denmark and Copenhagen. It’s OK, you can have a light nap, I’ll give you a prod when I’m done. Oh and if my notes are wrong, please don’t think ill of me, I’m not putting myself out there as an alternative to Lonely Planet. Firstly, there’s no real substitute for ‘please’ – it’s just not said. This horrifies me, I pride myself on good manners – someone could set my lips on fire and I’d still compliment them on their choice of matches. Remember when I got locked into a thank you war with my neighbour? I bought them a framed photo of where they got engaged, so they bought us some wine, so we bought them flowers, so they bought us chocolates? It’s still going on, albeit with ever diminishing returns: yesterday they pushed 5p through our letterbox, tomorrow I’ll nip over and smile disinterestedly through their window.

They were the first country to legalise pornography (in 1969, which seems fitting), which makes perfect sense when you look at some of the blue-eyed, blonde visions of perfection wandering around. Porn is so much more elegant with the Danish – with the British I end up focussing on their awful B&M wall-art and spotty bottoms. Plus there’s a definite lack of sexiness in the sound someone from Birmingham makes when having an orgasm – it sounds like two cats fighting to the death in a lift-shaft. I’m sorry Birmingham but it’s true: I’ve been there, done that and stained my t-shirt.

Of course, the downside of this sexy boom is that they’re also the country with the highest recorded rate of sexually transmitted diseases. They don’t mention that in the inflight magazine, do they? All them seraphic smiles but they’re all baking bread in their knickers.

Now this one I like: children are encouraged to swear in English. There’s plenty of swearwords in Danish from the unimaginative pis af to the slightly more colourful sut røv, pikhoved which means suck ass, dickhead, which frankly sounds like a step-by-step guide to staying the night at Chubby Towers. However, children are naturally told not to swear in Danish in public and to swear in English instead. I find this absolutely hilarious: I was itching to hear some wee dolly-dimple drop her toy and call it a fucking useless c*nt but it never happened, alas. We did see one lad fall over in the street and exclaim ‘SHIT’ very loudly, but Paul and I assumed he was British and immediately set about tutting and shaking our heads.

Finally, I read that they have a concept of ‘kvajebajer‘ – eating humble pie. The idea is that you don’t take yourself too seriously, you laugh at yourself, and accept you are there for the merriment of others when you go tits-up. Make a mistake? You ought to buy everyone a beer and get over it. I love this. Everywhere Paul and I go there’s calamity, we’ve birthed a blog from the very idea, and you know, if you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point?

Anyway, that’s quite enough about Denmark. Come back to us, we’re still on the plane. Flicking through the inflight magazine – it gives me something to do between elbowing Paul to stop him snoring and brushing the skin flakes off my knees that were slowly drifting down from the scalp of the gentleman in front  – Copenhagen seems like the place to be. It looked absolutely chøc-a-bløc of hip places to eat and fun places to drink. Photos show achingly-cool young folk having a whale of the time, looking effortlessly stylish perched on upturned beer crates or lying on the deck of a floating home. You could almost hear their collective shriek when we stepped off the plane in our ASDA trainers and shirts with all manner of plane food dripped down them.

The landing at Copenhagen Airport is a slightly unusual one in that there doesn’t appear to any airport at all and the pilot has decided, somewhat rashly, to set us down in the North Sea. This leads to the arresting sight of water looming closer and closer until you’re quite sure you could pop the window open and grab a 99 from the ice-cream seller on the beach as you hurtled past at 500mph. Naturally, I stayed stoic, merely plucking erratically at Paul’s sleeve as I prepared for an entire Airbus A320 to be crumpled through my soft tissue. Luckily, at the last second, a runway appeared and we glided elegantly to a smooth stop. I, somewhat forlornly, removed my armbands and we left the plane.

Naturally, nothing is that simple – I actually made a spectacular entrance by tripping halfway down the plane stairs and crashing all the way down to the tarmac on my arse. Thank god it’s so well-upholstered. We saw a fleet of fire engines go burring past, presumably mistaking the crash-bang-wallop of my bulk cascading down the stairs for the sounds of a fully-fuelled aeroplane crash. Velkommen!


There we go – we’re off! Do you enjoy our holiday entries? I know they’re long and quite a bit to get your lips around, but you can manage, because you’re filthy! Shall we get to the gazpacho? But of course! I found this recipe via a chef called José Andrés and it’s the perfect summer soup. Yes, it doesn’t look great, but if you’re a fan of fresh tastes you’ll bloody love it. This serves four and I heartily recommend it!

to make gazpacho, you’ll need:

  • one large cucumber
  • one large green pepper
  • 700g of ripe tomatoes (if you’re buying them in the supermarket, spend a bit extra – or at the very least, leave them on your windowsill for a few days to ripen
  • one glove of garlic (minced: using a microplane grater – that way you don’t need to peel – but any grater will do!)
  • one tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar – you can buy it in most supermarkets and it’s just as cheap as normal vinegar

to adorn the top:

  • 150g of cherry tomatoes, ripe and tasty, halved
  • two radishes cut into matchsticks
  • two spring onions finely sliced
  • a good chunk of cucumber, cubed
  • a load of cress
  • lots of black pepper

to make gazpacho, you should:

  • chop up the veg of the main soup and mix it all together with your hands, together with a good few twists of salt and pepper
  • seal it in a zip-bag and leave to marinate for ages – I waited overnight
  • in the morning, blend everything together until nice and smooth – we’ve got a Nutribullet for this kind of thing and it works an absolute charm – but you can do the same thing with a £5 blending stick, so don’t fret – add a few ice-cubes if you’re serving right away
  • adorn the top with the chopped veg above, or whatever you fancy
  • the key is to serve it as ice-cold as possible

Very, very good for you! If you’re on the fence, get down and try it. Nothing ventured nothing gained!

You want more veggie recipes? But of course. We’ll look after you. Take our hand. We won’t even shiver at your papery skin and clammy hands.

lunchsmallvegetariansmall    slowcookersmalltastersmallsoupsmall

J

the perfect Slimming World Big Mac

Big Mac in a bowl? Big Mac tater tots? What happened to a plain old Big Mac stuffed firmly into your mush until the grayus runs down yer chin? Well, on Slimming World, that dirty Big Mac will cost you 25.5 syns and a threatening midnight call from Commandant Bramwell. Something needs to pay for her timeshare in Magaluf and the second-hand, nicotine-tainted Subaru Impreza (private reg: MMB 4EVA), let me tell you.

So, us being generous Cubs, decided to finish our American holiday entries with a Slimming World Big Mac which weighs in at an altogether less unseemly 6.5 syns. You could have four! But don’t, you greedy bugger. Before we get to the recipe, indulge me for another few minutes as I give you a happy ending to be proud of, as it’s part seven of our New York trip!

slimming world big mac

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

We decided that it was imperative we be at the airport in good time lest we be late and miss our flight – I mean, can you imagine being stranded in New York? I’d feel like little Kevin McAllister, only without the shenanigans and inappropriate touching. As such, rather than clart about with the trains, we hailed a taxi. Our taxi driver was colourful with his language, going to great lengths to tell us what’s wrong with most Brits (we don’t tip, we’re too hoity-toity, Paul’s too fat, that sort of thing) and speeding through the streets like he’d stole the car. When it came to paying the fare I made a gag about asking Paul if he had twenty cents so we could give the exact fare and I swear to God, I thought the driver was going to shoot my face through the back of my head. I don’t like to exaggerate but I’ve never seen such ire in a man’s eyes – and I’ve gone in dry on more than one occasion. Just saying.

Naturally, with Speedy McMoodytits at the wheel, we arrived at the airport thirty minutes before check-in even opened, meaning we had to sit around forlornly by the front doors with our suitcases. It’s about the only time I miss smoking, at airports – it gives you something to do between getting fingered by some terse security attendant and spending the rest of your ‘foreign money’ on expensive tat for work colleagues. Do you know, I don’t think I’ve successfully managed to pass through an airport without buying a giant Toblerone since I was eighteen and got my first job? There’s always sarky remarks about originality but hey, at least it wasn’t a giant bag of wax fruit sweets that every other fucker brings back from their holiday.

I remember the first time Paul and I flew long-haul together (to Orlando, the tales of which you can find in our honeymoon book, which I’ve told is attractively priced on Amazon and available at the touch of a button on the very device you’re reading this on now). We were committed smokers at that point and the thought of nine hours in the air filled us with terror and dread.  We spent almost an hour mainlining fags outside of Manchester Airport then, once we had landed, it was literally the only thing we could think of. Fuck Mickey Mouse I cried, we’ve got emphysema to nurture. Naturally, Paul had lost the lighter and we spent a tense fifteen minutes trying to buy matches before some kind soul wheezed to our aid. It’s embarrassing, looking back.

Anyway, without smoking to pass the minutes, we occupied ourselves by streamlining our hand luggage and eating the bags of sweets I’d bought for my parents. It’s what they would have wanted. Finally time moved forward just enough for us to be granted permission to check in. The guy behind the counter was another grumpy sort who spent more time than I thought was decent fannying about with my passport. I resisted the urge to touch his hands and say ‘I’m sorry, I’m married, but I can send a signed photo by Fedex’ but he looked as though he’d snap my fingers.

What followed was the longest three hours of my life. Is there a more surprisingly awful, boring airport than JFK? I assumed that, being an exit hub, it would be full of vibrant shops and classy eateries for the carefree tourist to spend their money in. Nope. We had a Starbucks and watched the planes for a bit. Then we had a McDonalds and watched the planes for a bit. I enjoyed twenty-five minutes of furiously looking at my iPad whilst it failed to connect to the public Wi-Fi. We both went for a shite just to pass the time but found ourselves unable to commit the dirty deed because yet again the toilets only had a metal postage stamp for a door. I hate making eye-contact with anyone, let alone when I’m trying to birth an otter. Bah!

After looking around the duty free shop for the fourth time (why? Perhaps we thought there was an undiscovered wing to explore just behind the Smirnoff stand? Or that they rotated the stock on an hourly basis?) we succumbed and bought some aftershave: Paul some cloying Issey Miyake stuff, me some classy Tom Ford. I’ve come a long way since spraying my Mum’s bottle of Mum under my boobs before PE, I can tell you.

Finally, it was time to board. As usual, four hundred people leapt up at once as though fearful the plane might accidentally nip away before they’d had a chance to fuss about with the safety cards and put their duty free in the overhead bins. We hung back – we’re too fat to move safely in crowds – one of us trips and we’re taking people out on the way down. When we eventually made it to the final beep-beep check of the tickets and passport, a very stern lady with ice-blonde hair and a face that had never seen sunlight told us to stand to one side.

They then took our passports and tickets away from us whilst people walked past tutting at us as though we were terrorists. I mean, fair enough I hadn’t shaved, but I wasn’t a complete disaster.  For almost five minutes we waited whilst they let other people past. My arsehole was nipping so much I was surprised the two kilos of coke stuck up there didn’t fall out. Paul remained calm – as usual – I could hurl a burning pan of hot oil into his ear and he’d still yawn and look impassive, though he might feel a bit sad that he wasn’t getting chips.

Finally, we were given new tickets and told we had been moved from our original seats. We’re not fussy so didn’t say much and rejoined the queue. It was only on boarding that we were told we’d been upgraded. Hooray! Premium Economy is the lowest class we’ll fly because we’re fat and snotty (just kidding: it really is just because we’re fat) so anything higher was always going to be great. A genuinely lovely end to a fantastic holiday.

Quick thoughts? It was great being able to lie down properly on an overnight flight, although I didn’t like not being right next to Paul – I find it hard to sleep unless some of his fat isn’t rolling over me and the sound of him choking on his own neck is lullabying me to the land of nod. Having my own ‘pod’ was a novelty though – I spent a good forty minutes pressing every switch, turning on every light, opening every little drawer (a drawer to put my shoes in: how clever!) and carefully secreting every freebie into my bag. It was only when the Captain announced that someone was draining the power from the engines that I stopped whirring my chair, charging my iPod and frying myself some chips.

slimming world big mac

BYEEEEEEE LOL MISSING U HUN

The stewardesses came around shortly after take-off and asked everyone if they would like anything to eat. Paul, much to my horror, said he was full and only wanted a vodka. I was foaming. Everyone knows you need to make the most of this type of situation, even if it makes you look like a grasping harlot. I ordered a gin and tonic and a full meal (despite having already had a three course meal in the airport – ah well, I had plenty of time to sleep it off).

Here’s the thing – this is why I can’t have nice things. I was served a wonderful array of dishes but to me, they were nothing special and the portion sizes were tiny. I appreciate this is just me being a big fat pig but it seems the more you pay for food, the less you get. Don’t get me wrong, I put it all away in record time and did a discreet celebratory burp into my pillow for good measure, but I don’t like being served a big white plate with a shaving of radish on it and a flea-bite of cheese. I could have breathed my dinner into my lungs. I did make Paul watch me eat a delicious chocolate melting pudding, though – I stared right in his eyes and smacked my lips. That’ll teach him.

The night flight passed smoothly, soothed as I was by the sounds of my fellow fliers sleeping soundly and farting long into the night. Paul woke up at one point thinking the landing gear was coming down until I explained it was merely the mechanics of my chair straining under my bulk.

I was disappointed by the toilets – I wasn’t expecting someone to come in and wipe my taint but really, it’s not very upper class to be standing in someone else’s piss whilst you slap on the Elemis eye-cream. I know that on Emirates’ A380 you can actually have a hot shower whilst you fly. I can’t conceive of something I’d rather do less at 38,000ft – I know that as soon as I undressed and climbed into the shower we’d hit extreme turbulence and I’d end up shooting out of the bathroom with suds in my hair and my cock a-flapping whilst everyone screamed around me. It’s what happens when I get changed at the gym, why should it be any different in the sky?

We landed in good time and, unusually, were through security in no time at all. We did the usual things – updated Facebook to show off our fancy flying, texted my mother to tell her that I hadn’t made an unscheduled stop into the sea and that she could cancel the hearse, then made our way through grey London for our Virgin train back home. As you’d expect with a train journey, it was entirely uneventful, and we were home in no time for a good sleep.

That’s that! New York – done. It’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to go and it was made all the sweeter by Paul not knowing about it in advance. Normally I can’t keep a secret for toffee but somehow I managed to pull off a full holiday without giving the game away. The people, for the most part, were friendly, and everything we visited was absolutely worth it. I can see why people go back – we’ve only scratched the surface of what the city has to offer.

We’d move there in a heartbeat save for the fact that a decent flat in a nice area is over a million quid and well, we don’t have that sort of money hidden down the sofa (feel free to buy more copies of this book though, it might pay for a lamp or something). I think my favourite day, of all of them, was walking around Central Park – nothing much happened but it was so beautiful and so New York.

We travelled with Virgin Trains (reasonable), British Airways (excellent) and stayed at the Wyndham New Yorker (lovely, but ask for a newer room – our room was a bit old-fashioned and stuffy. We liked it, but you might not).

Onto the next holiday…


Right! Yes. THIS MAKES FOUR! If you want fewer, just reduce the amount as you need to.

slimming world big mac

to make a Slimming World Big Mac, you’re going to need:

  • (this makes enough for four, mind you)
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • 6 wholemeal rolls (use 4x as a HeB each, and then syn the remaining two at 12 syns to make the middle bun)
  • half an iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • sliced gherkins
  • 4 slices of reduced-fat processed cheese (12 syns)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced

for the special sauce

  • 4 tbsp extra-light mayonnaise (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp reduced-fat thousand island dressing (1 syn)
  • 4 tsp chopped gherkins
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt

We used a proper bun for the pictures and don’t even care – if you’re using white buns with sesame seeds, you’re looking at about 12 syns, and even then it’s half the syn cost of a proper one. AND you can reduce the syns further still by swapping out the cheese for some of your proper HEA cheese, but if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to do it properly, see?

Two things we used to help with this recipe, neither of which are critical to the recipe but they do help: our Optigrill and our canny little burger maker (dirt cheap)!

to make a Slimming World Big Mac, you should:

  • bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and add the chopped onion – simmer for 30 seconds, then drain and set aside
  • next, mix together the sauce ingredients in a bowl, including 2 tbsp of diced onion, and set aside
  • add salt and pepper to the mince and then divide into 8 balls (just over 60g each) and flatten into burger shapes – they don’t need to be perfect, and remember, McDonalds burgers are normally thin!
  • if you’re using the OptiGrill: fire it up and select the ‘burger’ option – when the light goes blue simply whack the burgers on, close the lid and cook until the light is orange
  • otherwise – preheat the grill to high and cook the burgers until done – remembering to flip over
  • whilst they’re cooking, toast the buns
  • next – assemble the burger – you want it in this order:
    • bottom bun
    • tbsp special sauce
    • tbsp diced onion
    • chopped lettuce
    • slice of cheese
    • burger
    • bun half
    • tbsp special sauce
    • tbsp onion
    • lettuce
    • gherkins
    • burger
    • top bun
  • forget you’re on a diet
  • turn into poo

How nice is that? For the full McDonalds experience, try and eat your burger whilst eighteen kids off their tits on e-numbers and sugar run screaming around your ankles whilst neck-tattooed dads stare glumly at you with their dead, soulless eyes.

Big thanks to @TEFALUK and @Foodies100!

Fancy more to fill your pie hole? Just click one of the buttons below!

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J

chicken and mushroom one-pot paella

I’m saying our chicken and mushroom one-pot paella is a paella even though it doesn’t have seafood in because for goodness sake, seafood ruins everything and I don’t care who knows it. Next part of our New York entry for you today, with the finish line in sight…then how about a few new entries that aren’t holiday related? We did receive a snotty comment that someone comes here to read the recipes, not the holidays of two gay men – pfft. People shouldn’t forget – this is a personal blog and the food is a mere afterthought. If you don’t like sodomy and sass with your slimming slop, then bugger off to 💓 💓 Cutezy Mom & Her Moonlight Children 💓 💓 or some other asinine shite and don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out. Eeee what a thing to say. Let’s go travelling! Remember I love feedback on our travel entries!

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

At SOME point during this holiday we visited the Empire State Building – but can I balls remember what day it was. As a result, I’m just going to squeeze it in right here, on the last day we were there.

We woke with a start at around 6am – it’s true, you know, New York is truly the city that never sleeps. We know this because there was a mad person shouting obscenities down on the streets below. Nothing rouses me from slumber quicker than someone with spittle on his lips shouting about the coming apocalypse and the risen Jesus. It was the last day so we showered glumly, packed our things sadly and exchanged blowjobs with a downturned mouth. It’s difficult to be enthusiastic on the last day. We left our luggage with the charming staff in the lobby and made our way out.

Well, it was certainly bright. Turned out that the city had received a fair dumping of snow overnight and the streets were white and pretty. I fretted momentarily that we would be trapped in New York (oh no, imagine my devastation) but found that this thought was giving me far too much joy for so early in the morning. We could see the Empire State Building way off in the distance so decided to head there, walking the three miles or so slowly to prevent any accidental slips or falls. We were in the most litigious country in the world, after all. We stopped for a quick breakfast in a tiny corner deli – I had a sandwich the size of a church draught excluder, Paul had a slice of cheesecake. Of course!

The Empire State Building was astonishing, though. The lady dishing out the tickets warned us that we would be unable to see anything much due to the heavy cloud but we waved her worries aside – we at least had to tick it off the list. I’m so glad we did. It’s an absolutely gorgeous building, both inside and out, done out as it is in the fabulous art-deco style of the time. We had the tourist part of the building to ourselves, most likely due to the early morning and the winter weather, and we were able to wander about and take our time.

Proof that we enjoyed the tour was the fact we took on board two facts about the Empire State Building: two separate people have attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the observation deck only to be blown back into the building on the way down. I’d certainly feel like I was born again in that situation: imagine expecting to be a thin red jam on the pavement only to find yourself safe and sound with only ruffled hair to account for your troubles. Along similar lines, the world record for the longest survived elevator fall took place here, when rescuers saving poor Betty Lou Oliver from a plane hitting the building managed to miss the fact that the elevator carriage she was riding in had weakened considerably. Just as they reached for her the cables holding the lift snapped and she, and the lift, fell 79 stories.  She survived with serious injuries but fuck me ragged, I had my heart in my mouth on the Tower of Terror ride at Disneyworld, I can’t imagine doing that for 79 floors! Blimey.

The kiosk lady was right, by the way – we couldn’t see very much. But the feeling of standing on the 102nd floor in the middle of a snowstorm was incredible. I felt like I was in a chewing gum advert. However, a minute standing outside had sent my bollocks retreating somewhere behind my lungs so we sharp made our way back in and into the gift shop, where we bought all manner of tat and nonsense.

See, brisk.

Knowing our flight wasn’t until the evening we decided to spend the rest of the day just walking about to see where we ended up. Oddly enough, after much random mincing and stopping for coffee, we found ourselves down on Pier 86 at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a museum devoted to well, air, sea and space. We had time to kill and ankles like jelly, so why not? They have a decommissioned aircraft carrier to nose about, and well, I haven’t had a chance to visit an old wreck full of seamen since the last time I visited Paul’s mother. Ouch.

As seems to be the way with attractions in New York, there was a bewildering array of entrance tickets to be had – some with simulations included, some with access to the space shuttle, some with a frisky handjob by a passing sailor. We chose the standard admission and were immediately told to decide which simulator we fancied. We elected to have a trip on the exciting G-Force Encounter, half-thinking it might be one of those centrifuge things where they spin you around and you’re left with the arresting sight of your own double chin snaking its merry way up over your eyes.

Well, it certainly wasn’t that. We were ‘boarded’ by an indifferent Kenan and Kel and told to strap ourselves in. Sounds exciting! Well, let me tell you this: I’ve felt more G-Force getting out of my computer chair when the takeaway man knocks on the door. The perils of war-time flight were bought to life via the medium of Windows 95’s very best graphics. The simulator creaked this way and that and there was an awful lot of hissing – we probably broke a hydraulics pipe somewhere – but that was it. Thrill ride? I had more excitement reading the opening hours.

That was the only downside, though. The rest of the exhibition was great. We spent a good hour or so wandering around the aircraft carrier, getting a taste of what it must be like spending all that time locked away with nothing but other men to keep you company. We both signed up for the US Navy as we left.

Not just content with letting us explore the poop deck, the museum also had all manner of aeroplanes and helicopters to look at. I have to confess: this struggled to hold my attention. I mean, they looked great and all, but a plane sitting on the ground is still a plane sitting on the ground, you know? We did spot that they had a Concorde parked down by the water so we bustled over to it. I’ve been in Concorde before, though not for a flight (sadly) and the bloody thing is tiny. You’re fair jammed in with the rich and famous and I imagine it’s like crossing the ocean in a cigar tube. Of course, you get no sense of this lack of space as you’re not allowed to board the Concorde at the Intrepid, which is a pretty poor show.

I do wish they’d bring back Concorde, however. Imagine flying from London to New York in three and a half hours, as opposed to double that with BA’s current fleet. I’d barely have enough time for the blood around my swollen ankles to clot before we landed. Paul’s dad has been on Concorde, and, having met Paul’s mother, I can absolutely understand the need for supersonic flight. That’s two jibes in one article, I am awful.

Next on the list was a trip into a submarine – one which was hilariously named ‘Growler’.

This meant that Paul had to endure about twenty minutes of me saying ‘I’ve never seen a Growler this big’ and ‘do you reckon I’ll be able to fit in the Growler, it looks tight’ and ‘I hope the Growler doesn’t smell of fish and damp from being underwater’. I only stopped when blood started trickling from his ears. We joined an orderly queue of prim, exceptionally thin people who were all shepherded aboard before us. This meant that we were now at the front of the queue with people behind us which immediately gave me the heebie-jeebies. Why? Because what if we didn’t fit through the absolutely tiny doors onboard?

Look at them!

There were warning signs everywhere. All I could imagine is my arse acting like a giant plug and everyone behind being slowly starved of oxygen. As it happens it was an incredibly tight fit but I managed fine – it was actually Paul, with his tiny coffee-table legs, that struggled, given you had to lift your legs really quite high to climb through. At one point I nearly cried ‘abandon ship’ and made for the exit but it all came good in the end. I bet though – in fact, I absolutely guarantee – that our denim-clad arses are on at least eight Japanese iCloud accounts as we speak.

To be fair, my rack has indeed been a welcome sight for many seamen.

We wrapped up our visit with a trip around their space centre, which held the space shuttle Enterprise and lots of bright and interesting information boards. I’ve been to NASA in Orlando so seeing the shuttle wasn’t so amazing, but I’ll say this: when you see it up close you realise exactly how much fun it must be being in space. Honestly, I’d never get tired of shooting various liquids around in zero gravity – after twenty-four hours the live feed to the inside of my space-shuttle would look like a badly tuned TV channel.

I tried to buy a helmet from the gift shop but yet again, my elephantine head defeated me.

See? Look at my sad face.

Seeing that we’d need to get a move on and head back to the hotel, we wandered up the streets, retracing our steps from the morning. We were side-tracked for another hour or so by a stop at a beer bar (The House of Brews, firmly recommended) where we managed to put away several pints of various beers together with a plate of nachos that was positively indecent. I love American nachos – they do it properly, with loads of chilli, cheese, sauces and spice. What do we get? A microwaved packet of Doritos with a Cheesestring melted over the top. Bah. We spotted a dartboard and, perhaps fuelled by that rare beast testosterone, had ourselves a little tournament. Naturally, I won, but then I’ve always been accomplished at finishing myself off with a double-top.

So manly, even if it looks like I’m wanking off a tiny pint of Guinness.

We made it back to our hotel, had a very strong coffee to stop our eyes swimming, and picked up our luggage. With a heavy, cheese-stuffed heart, we were bidding goodbye to New York.

Nah, I’m good thanks…


Did you enjoy that? If not, tough titty, but the end is in sight – one more entry to go and then we’re back on track. Actually that’s a fib, we’ve got Copenhagen coming down the line. And London. Oh god it never ends! But before we get to all of that, let’s do the recipe. This is adapted from Macheeshmo’s website so full credit to him, but we’ve taken out the seafood because that shit is nasty. This made enough for four big portions!

to make chicken and mushroom one-pot paella, you’ll need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 150g shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 100g button mushrooms (or whatever type you like), chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (get one of these!)
  • 300g paella rice
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 litre chicken stock (dissolve two chicken stock cubes in a litre of boiling water)
  • pinch of salt and pepper

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

to make chicken and mushroom one-pot paella, you should:

  • prepare the onion, chicken and mushroom and place into bowls – it makes it much easier!
  • preheat the oven to 200°c
  • in a large ovenproof casserole pot, add a little oil over a high heat
  • add the chicken in two batches until seared in each side (this will take about five minutes)
  • remove the chicken the pan into a large bowl and set aside
  • add the mushrooms and cook for another few minutes, then add the onions, chopped garlic and some salt and pepper
  • tip the mushrooms and onion in with the chicken
  • add a little more oil to the now-empty pan, and then add the paella rice and spread out well int he bottom of the pan
  • add the chicken stock and give a good stir, and then add the tomatoes, chilli powder and paprika
  • stir in the chicken, mushrooms and onions and give another good stir, then bring the lot to a simmer
  • place the pot in the oven uncovered for about 40 minutes
  • serve!

Canny right?

Hungry for more? You know what to do:

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Enjoy!

J