I feel I should warn you – this is a long one. But if you relax, grit your teeth and just persevere, you’ll enjoy it all the way to the end.
Wah-hey! It’s American week, we’ve got our fancy new banner, and you’re actually getting two recipes today, both of which are easy to make. Before we get started though, just something quick. I found a vest in the reduced bin at Tesco today for £2. I don’t wear vests because I don’t have fabulous arms and I feel the world can do without seeing my milky white, hairy shoulders catching the sun. Nevertheless, it’s good for dossing around the house, but the very moment Paul saw me in it he said I looked like Onslow from Keeping up Appearances. So that’s nice, bearing Onslow was a man in his late fifties who had yellow teeth and a very ‘lived in’ face.
The recipes are at the bottom of this page!
American week means I get to step back from writing and rest my fingers for a bit – so in the meantime, I’m going to post seven days from my honeymoon book. We travelled to Florida for four weeks and it was amazing, and I kept a diary because I didn’t want to forget any of it. I know, mushy. If you enjoy it, please do consider buying it – it means a few extra pennies for our Iceland jar see. And it’s only £2. Click here! So, this is day zero…
Day 0 – our wedding and travelling to Florida
Given I’m going to prattle on about Paul and I for oooh…about 50000 words, it seems prudent to introduce us properly, and what better way to illustrate who we are then to talk you through the day I accepted Paul’s ring. Yes, the wedding. We’re not exactly Wills and Kate, though I do have a fabulous arse, but it was a lovely day full of smiles and the perfect start to our honeymoon full of sin, sarcasm and blue sunscreen.
Way back in 2009, also at Disney, I proposed to my stout little barrel of a man and he gleefully accepted. I think it was the fact we were in the middle of a lake and I’d be watching an awful lot of Dead Calm recently that hastened his positive reply. We got honked at by a passing Disney ferry whose inhabitants thought I was down on my knees doing something other than proposing. The nerve. I mean, it wasn’t Christmas! Zip forward to 3 January 2011 and the day before our wedding. Well, the glamour started right from the off with one of the cats deciding to do a dirty protest in the car whilst we ferried him over to my sister to look after. You’ve never seen someone wind a window down quicker than us that day, and because the cat is fearless and would have jumped, he stayed in his messy box all the way to my sisters. It was with tears in our eyes (and Vicks under our nose) to see our pooey little furball depart, but there you have it.
We spent the evening before the wedding in our first treat, a room at the Hotel du Vin in Newcastle. You may think Newcastle is purely the land of bust noses, bare flesh and broken hymens, but we’re more than capable of bringing the class, and this is one of the nicest hotels in the area. I mean, it has a cigar bar attached, for heaven’s sake. Our very first surprise of the honeymoon? We were upgraded to the best suite in the hotel, the Dom Pérignon suite. It was bloody beautiful. It’s the honeymoon suite and I was overjoyed, especially as I had only paid £68 for the room through my shrewd discount plans. A massive thank you to the staff of the beautiful Hotel du Vin, that’s for sure. The room had two bathtubs in the living room, and I think we were in the room for a grand total of two minutes before they were full of bubbles and we were laid in them watching Deal or no Deal on the giant TV and feeling like kings. The bed was wonderful too – it felt like it was 9ft wide – I could lie in it, stretch myself out and STILL not touch the sides. Sometimes I wonder why Paul married me.
After a meal on the Quayside and a romantic stroll back to our room, we settled down to sleep – our last night as bachelors! Here’s a sweet fact for you – in all the time we’ve been together, we’ve never had a night apart. A good start to the marriage methinks! And so…to the wedding!
We had decided a couple of months previously not to have a big do at all, and just a small registry office affair followed by a good dinner. I wish I could say it was for any other reason than the fact we’re both terribly selfish and Northern and thus the idea of spending money to facilitate other people having a good time appals us. Plus, I wanted to avoid the three horrid old clichés of a civil partnership:
- non-Scottish men wearing kilts. We know you’re a Mary but let’s not wear a skirt, eh;
- rainbow decorations absolutely anywhere. Paul may be the height of a leprechaun but he doesn’t have the cheeky disposition; and
- bloody cupcake towers. Nothing cloys my blood faster than this fad for cupcakes. I’m not Polly bloody Pocket. If I had my way, there would only be two cakes allowed – fruit and urinal.
Bah! I’m not casting aspersions on anyone else’s wedding but it suited us to have a small, tidy, manly do. So we did. Well, we did toy with the idea of dressing up like the sisters from Shakespeare’s Sister’ Stay video but we were talked out of it. We became Husband and Husband in Newcastle Registry Office, presided over by an official who was the spit of Annie Lennox, and watched over by our immediate family and good friends. As an aside, my gran was there, and she’s brilliant – despite being 87, she’s thoroughly accepting of our relationship and is always asking after Paul when I call up. I mean, there are limits to her acceptance – I didn’t dare explain what fisting was when she asked me one day after seeing the word on my phone (I might add, someone had texted it in a joke to me, I’m not that FILTHY). It still felt a little bit too formal for me, as I’m not used to someone addressing a suit-clad Paul without adding ‘the defendant’ afterwards. We decamped to SIX, the faffy little restaurant on top of the Baltic. It’s very posh. NOW, we’re not a posh lot, and class McCains as a ‘fancy potato style’ but you have to let your hair down once and a while, even if (as is the case in all the males at the table) you don’t have any.
So, a suitably lovely meal was had, only enhanced by the snotty waiter looking down his nose at us and rolling his eyes when I ordered a couple of bottles of reasonably-priced champagne. Well, reasonably priced for them – paying £65 for a bottle of fizzy cat pee gave me such a cold sweat that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom to calm my shakes. My nana, bless her, didn’t really fancy anything on the menu (I can’t blame her, I’ve never heard two bits of chard, a sliced tomato and a bloody drizzle of balsamic vinegar described as a French Salad before) but they were very good and cooked her up her own individual meal. I stopped short of asking them to put a glass of Banana Complan on ice, though.
After the meal, we went to the pub for an hour, then everyone dearly departed, and our honeymoon officially started. Yes! Back to the flat to really put the bed through its paces by er…putting the suitcases on it and tipping our wardrobe into them. I have to say, it wasn’t the first type of packing that I had planned for the wedding night. We slept, butterflies in our stomach (SIX would call them an amuse bouché) and in no time at all, we were in a taxi being bellowed at by a rather brusque taxi driver who wanted to know the far end of a fart and when it came from. Honestly. I spent the entire trip to the train station trying to hide the fact I was attempting to take a photo of his face on my phone so I would be able to identify who had burgled our house when we were away. Thankfully, that didn’t arise.
Straight onto the train, into the first class carriage (where you too can travel in style with an extra doily and a few crappy biscuits) and we were disappearing over the Queen Elizabeth bridge, saying goodbye to Newcastle from the bridge. Now here’s a tip for you. If you’re coming into Newcastle (or indeed leaving) from the South on the train, don’t look slackjawed to the right and admire all the bridges, but instead, look on the other side of the river, up the Tyne. As you cross the bridge, there’s a little wasteground, and it’s always full of men out ‘badger-hunting’. Yep – whereas most people are taken by the beauty of the moment, Paul and I spent the first minute of our honeymoon journey playing ‘Count the Cruiser’. What larks!
In no time at all, we were in London, our seedy capital. Kings Cross is lovely, yes, but in no time at all we had tubed our way to Victoria and onto the Gatwick Express, heading for the giddy heights of the Gatwick Hilton. What a place! After spending seven years navigating to the hotel from the train station (seriously, we spent so much time walking there that I almost gave up and set up base for the night), we were checked in by a clearly-couldn’t-care-less-customer-divvy and in our room. Grim. I’m not a hotel snob but after spending the night in the Hotel du Vin only two nights ago, the Hilton’s tired brown sheets and tiny bathroom didn’t exactly enamour the soul. After spending only a moment admiring the view (car-parks are just SO fantastic to gaze at), we trekked back to the airport and checked in super-early (is it still Twilight Check-in if it is during the day?) with Virgin Atlantic. We had pre-booked our seats in the bubble but no sooner had we dumped our bags than the lady behind the counter told us we had been moved. Argh! I was too busy trying to work out the best way to hide her body to take in what she was saying, but when I was back at the hotel I checked online and we were RIGHT at the front of the bubble. Get in! Not only do I get to look down at the cattle-class, but I was going to be on first-name terms with the pilot. OK, maybe not THAT close. And we don’t look down our noses at anyone…well…not much.
We spent the evening in the hotel, watching a home movie entitled ‘Britain’s Fattest Man’ starring Timothy Spall. It was very good, even if we didn’t feel a shred of shame stuffing a pork-pie into our gob the very moment he had his fat chopped off. A good nights sleep was had, and we were ready for day 1…introduction over!
Oh how we laughed! So the first recipe is for a berry medley breakfast – we were served something very similar at the Polynesian at Disney, so why not replicate it here?
There doesn’t really need to be a guide on what to do, really – I just scooped out a giant watermelon and put all that disgusting, rancid watermelon into the bin. That’s really the most important part, because no-one in their right mind can enjoy watermelon – it’s like sucking on a dishcloth. I’ve had farts with more structure, seriously. Then, fill up the hollow with a selection of berries – in this case I used strawberries, raspeberries, blackberries, a Mary Berry, pomegranate seeds, melon balls and blueberries. I then whizzed some raspberries together with the juice of one lime, mixed the whole lot together, and served with chopped mint. This EASILY serves four and is so rammed with superfree food it brings a tear to my eye. Next…
We had loaded hotdogs at Universal Studios – here we have wrapped the hotdog in bacon but you could easily load it with chilli or tonnes of softened onion. Just do it!
to make bacon wrapped hotdogs, you’ll need:
- a hotdog bun (now look – dig out wholemeal hotdog rolls, ASDA sell them, but we used a white bun because it looked better for the photo – GASP. The hotdog bun was 38g so I’m calling it a HEB. If you don’t want to do that, that’s OK, just swap out the hotdog bun for a normal HEB breadbun and you’ll be laughing)
- wasn’t that a lot of bold text? Well I’m a bold guy
- some cocktail sticks
- 6 rashers of bacon – now you’ll want decent bacon here, not something that looks like the bottom of a flipflop – you want plenty of meat, fat removed
- an onion
- hotdogs or sausages – we used Ye Olde Oake hotdogs jumbo, which work out at 2 syns each, but you could use Slimming World sausages instead, think of ALL THAT FLAVOUR
- 100g of quark
- your Heathly Extra allowance of strong cheese (we used Red Leicester and only 35g)
- whatever side you want, we just did ours with chips because we had so much speed food earlier)
then just do this:
- cut the bacon into inch long strips and wrap gently around the hotdog or sausage (if you’re using sausages, cook them first – don’t incinerate them but get them to ‘almost done’) – secure the bacon with cocktail sticks
- pop under the grill for ten minutes or so until bacon is lovely and cooked
- meanwhile, cut your onion up into small bits and gently saute in a drop of oil or Frylight
- add chopped bacon from your scrappy bits left over, don’t be adding chunks of fat mind or I’ll slap your legs
- to make the cheese sauce, carefully heat the Quark through and stir in your cheese – you might need to thin it with a drop or two of milk
Easy. We had two – an extra finger roll being 6.5 syns, but really it was heavy going, so just have one and fill up on sides! If you use ketchup and mustard, you’re looking at a syn extra per tablespoon or so.
Enjoy! WE’RE OFF!