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

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

click here for part one, god-help-you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

to make spicy szechuan beef you will need:

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

for the sauce

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

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

to make spicy szechuan beef you should:

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

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

fakeawayssmallpoultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmall

J

cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni

No time for shenanigans tonight, so it’s a cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni for you and an early night for me. An early night? Yes. I’m in desperate need of one. I don’t want to be crass but we had a takeaway last night and the twilit hours became an assault on all the senses. Twice I was woken by my own flatulence, then by Paul laughing at his own flatulence, then the cat gagging, then the vet’s ambulance arriving, then stomach pains, then being unable to breath due to the lack of oxygen in the room. I swear if our alarm clark had been faulty and started sparking we would have ended up in a Backdraft style situation. I didn’t get to sleep until way past 4am and Paul hasn’t been to sleep at all. Not going to lie, it made it difficult driving into work on the motorway, not least because everyone was so loud with their beeping as they rudely drove towards me. Tsk.

I will however take a moment to say THANK YOU to everyone who has bought the paperback and proper weighty versions of our books – I didn’t think anyone would want us in hard form but here we find ourselves, looking at the Amazon sales, seeing tonnes of you snapping the buggers up! Perhaps you’re planning on taking us on holiday, perhaps you want your husband to get jealous at the thought of you spending the night with two strapping men, who knows? Either way, thank you. You’ve paid for our next holiday! If anyone else wants to hold us firmly in your hands and demand satisfaction, you can buy all of our books here!

Right, dinner then. Nowt to this, very easy to make but lovely and tasty!

to make cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni you will need:

  • 350g rigatoni
  • 280g frozen spinach
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (this bad boy will make the job easier)
  • a handful of basil leaves
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 60ml red wine (2 syns) (we use Asda cooking wine to avoid opening the fancy stuff)
  • 1 medium courgette, sliced and then quartered
  • 180g ricotta (2x HeA)
  • 140g reduced fat mozzarella, torn up into small pieces (2x HeA)

to make cheesy baked boozy basil rigatoni you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • cook the rigatoni according to the instructions but still with a little bite to them, then drain
  • heat a little oil in a large frying pan and and add the spinach until it has defrosted and wilted, tip into a sieve and squeeze out as much water as you can and plop back into the pan
  • add the chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, wine and courgette to the pan, mix well and bring to a simmer
  • reduce the heat and then add the ricotta and a quarter of the mozarella, and give a good stir
  • spray a large baking dish (save your pans and ditch the Frylight, get this instead!) with oil and tip in the pasta and then the sauce, giving it a good stir to mix it up
  • top with the remaining mozzarella and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes
  • eat

Hungry for more? click one of the buttons below to get even more tasty recipes!

lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall seafoodsmallbreakfastsmall

J

strawberries and cream overnight oats

My word, just take a moment to look at those strawberries and cream overnight oats –  what a thing of beauty. Normally our food looks crap but I’m happy with how that picture turned out! Overnight oats seem to be making a bit of a resurgence amongst the slimming rabble online so I thought it’s about time we had a new one. This meant a trip to Lidl – normally I’d send Paul but see he went to bed ‘to rest his eyes’ at 2pm and he’s still in bed now! I should probably check he hasn’t choked to death on his own fat tongue but meh, Doctor Who is on shortly. So no, I went to Lidl myself, and that’s a very dangerous thing indeed.

Why? Because anyone who knows me will tell you I’m as tight as a nun’s gee but somethings comes over me at Lidl and I’m throwing the cash around like Barry Big Bollocks. Admittedly, this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans because you could probably buy the entire stock inventory of our local Lidl and pay the staff with the total of the coins in my car ashtray. It isn’t an ashtray but I can’t be arsed to google and find out what the compartment is called. You may remember I contemplated pissing in it once, though (don’t worry, that risky click will open in a new window).  But see I went into Lidl this afternoon to buy one box of strawberries and spent nearly fifty quid on absolute tat. This doesn’t happen to me in Aldi, possibly because I’m too stressed about approaching the checkout and having my shopping hurled off the back wall by a cashier with a forearm like a Russian shot-putter, but Lidl, every fucking time.

So what did I buy? I bought some strawberries, yes, very good. But I also bought two giant bars of Ritter chocolate. Some stuffed vine leaves. Some kirsch. A self-watering plant pot which has already broken from when I threw it in the boot. A ‘chips and dip’ bowl I wouldn’t even sell at a car boot sale. Some suncream – why? I live in Newcastle, the closest I get to a tan is walking past the heated cabinets in Greggs. A citronella candle with a wick so thick I feel like I’m part of the lighting of the beacons from Lord of the Rings. I bought a selection of real ale simply because the names amused me, even though I’m about as much into real ale as I am playing football and punching horses. There’s also a bag of crisps made from pasta which I’m sure will actually make Slimming World spontaneously combust as they battle to work out whether it is a tweak or not. I had to stop myself buying a set of telescopic hedge trimmers on the basis that a) all of our hedges are about 10ft and growing wildly b) I’m lazy and c) we have a gardener for that sort of thing. Not showing off, it’s just two hilariously obese blokes aren’t exactly cut out for hard graft in the garden (see Paul’s current status, above).

I did go too far, though. I bought my cats some Coshita, or whatever the Lidl cat food is. I’m not a snob, not in the slightest, but by Christ my cats are. I slopped this out of the sachet, gagging all the while (who knew that ash mixed with horse sphincter and mouse droppings could taste so nasty) and our cats wandered over to try it. I say try it, they didn’t even sniff it – just looked at the pile of food and then back at me with a look that said we’d never be friends again. I actually had to rush to our first aid box because I was so severely burnt by their coldness. They both turned and stropped straight out the cat flap and I haven’t seen them since. If I didn’t know that cats don’t have opposable thumbs I’d be willing to bet they were currently hitchhiking down the A1 to London in the hope of meeting a kinder owner who would feed them fresh chicken every day. I can’t understand their mentality – I’ve seen one cat chew up the brains, eyes and skull of a poor mouse only to then sick it back up and have the other cat have a bash at it. They’re certainly very picky considering they must spend at least 30% of their day rasping away at each other’s arsehole.

Pah. The list above isn’t even exhaustive, you know. I came back with three big bags and nothing to actually show for it. That’s why I send Paul – he knows that if he spends money on nonsense he’ll have to put up with me sitting around with a face like a collapsed mine kvetching at him for frittering money away.

Anyway, enough about me and my sexy temperament. Let’s do this recipe!

strawberries and cream

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

  • 40g of oats – any old oats will do, maybe not the wild oats that your male friend keeps asking you to try
  • as much syn free natural yoghurt as you want – or use a Mullerlight if you’re not feeling fancy
  • a couple of good handfuls of strawberries
  • lighter squirty cream (12.5g) (look, I just put a good squirt in there, I don’t care) (1.5 syns)

I suppose if you cook the strawberries you ought to syn them if you follow SW’s diet to the absolute letter. People will feverishly tell you, whilst covering your blouse with their yellow spittle, that it’s because ‘IT RELISUS THE SHERGARS‘ or other bumtwattery. It isn’t. The rule is there to stop you over-eating. It doesn’t apply in this case. If I was asking you to blend fifteen punnets of strawberries then yeah, you should syn it. But as I’m assuming that you not a fucking dormouse and thus could easily sit and eat five or six strawberries in one sitting – and therefore, as you’re not ingesting any extra calories then you normally would – I don’t think you need to syn it. However, if you’re one of these people who demand everyone follows it 100% or else they’re worse than Hitler, here’s a pro-tip: have yourself seventeen Muller-lights and a Hifi bar, do it your way, I’ll do it my way, and everyone can be happy! Tra-la-la.

to make strawberries and cream overnight oats, you should:

  • mix together your oats and yoghurt
  • chop up all of the strawberries into little chunks and mix half into the oaty mix
  • pop the rest into a cup and microwave for ten seconds, just to get the juices running, and then mash lightly with a fork
  • take your phone off the hook to stop the Slimming World Mafiosa ringing you up, slurring down the line about tweaaaaaaks
  • layer the jar like in the picture – half the jar with oats, then the layer of mushy strawberry, then the rest of the oats
  • put it in the fridge overnight
  • in the morning, top with your squirty cream and another strawberry
  • easy!

OH we got our jars from here!

Want more overnight oats recipes? We’ve made loads! Hell, there’s even a boozy version for all of you who shake your way through the day!

More breakfast ideas? More inspiration? Just click what you need!

overnight-oatsbreakfastsmallsnackssmall dessertsmalltastersmall

Enjoy!

J

corned beef nacho bites for taster nights

Very quick post for the corned beef nacho bites tonight as it is our local election and damn it, I want to be out there throwing eggs and shaking up the system. If you haven’t voted, get those wibbly-wobbly legs on the go and vote – doesn’t matter whether you’re voting to ruin the country or who wins The X-Factor – if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. I’m not one for political rioting and fighting the powers that be – that honour belongs to Paul who, if there’s an excuse to put on a tabard and his woolly hat and cause a ruckus, will gladly do so.

I remember a few years back when he used to work for our local council and they were led out on strike over pensions. I begged him to keep a low profile as being sent as a rabble-rouser at a time of redundancies and cuts was never a good idea. Hardly heard a peep from him all day until I was busy making lunch and I heard his voice bellowing from the living room. Oooh he’s back early, what fun, afternoon delight time – no.

No, there was my dear heart, giving it large about ‘GUURLD-PLATED PENSIONS’ live on BBC News at 1pm, live in front of the nation resplendent in his ASDA hoodie. I don’t know why he’s got such fat lips in the photo but we can assume it’s not from suckling on the tit of capitalism. Or something.

Oh, and he managed to throw himself in front of the Chief Executive’s car whilst calling her a scab for crossing the picket line. Here’s a picture of the car all parked up.

Ah at least he has morals. I’d give up workers’ rights and pension pots for the first hunky politician to make a bit of side-eye at me.

Recipe then! Look, we’ve tried to make these look appealing but you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. We thought these would be a nice thing to take along to a taster class (you would assemble them there, mind you, don’t fancy carrying these towers on the bus). Has to be a better option than a bunch of bloody grapes or a quiche with cat hair and fag ash in it. The whole recipe makes enough for 24 discs, so at about 8 syns for the lot, that’s three for a syn. Eeee, you couldn’t make it up!

to make corned beef nacho bites you will need:

  • 2 large potatoes, cut into half-a-centimetre slices
  • 250g lean corned beef, diced (3½ syns)
  • 160g reduced-fat cheddar, grated (4x HeA)
  • handful sliced jalapeños
  • 4 tbsp reduced-fat soured cream (4 syns)
  • half an onion, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

for the salsa

  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • half an onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Or just buy salsa and live like a queen!

to make corned beef nacho bites you should:

  • preheat the oven to 220°c
  • place the potato slices onto a lined baking sheet and spray with a bit of oil (don’t use Frylight – use this instead and get a proper mist!)  and sprinkle over the salt and pepper
  • bake the potatoes for about 20 minutes, then flip over and bake for another 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on them!)
  • meanwhile, mix the salsa ingredients together and set aside
  • when finished cooking, remove from the oven and place a little pile of grated cheese on top of each potato slice, followed by some corned beef cubes
  • whack under a hot grill until the cheese has just melted
  • add a dollop of sour cream and salsa, then chuck on the jalapeños and onion
  • serve!

Want more dazzling party ideas? Click the buttons below to find even more!

snackssmall tastersmallnaughtyfooddrinkssmallbbqsmall

sunshine potato salad and minted pea crush

Here for the sunshine potato salad and minted pea crush? Well, let’s be frank, you’re not going to be here to buy a set of bulbs for your hallway or tips on cleaning your yeasty clout. The recipe follows, unusually shortly, but first…

Can someone kindly explain to me the fuss about these fidget spinners thing? I’ve seen so many people wandering down the streets looking like they’re clicking their fingers in that insufferably smug manner adopted by professional Rent-a-Gobs like Michael Buble lately that it makes my head spin, and not even ironically. I’ve seen people paying a tenner for something they can hold in their hands and fidget with, which, for at least 50% of the population, is overlooking the obvious choice, although playing with your cock whilst you ‘concentrate’ in the cat food aisle at ASDA is only ever going to get you into trouble.

I abjure from most fads – I grew my hair long and dark way after all the other Emo McGee boys at school did it, but then Snape came along and ruined it for me with his fabulous locks. I avoided the whole ‘charity wristband’ nonsense by wearing one that said ‘fuck commercialisation’ – listen, I know, it’s a wonder I didn’t cut myself on all that edginess! That was ridiculous mind, you’d have people walking around with ten of these wristbands strangling their ham-hock wrists and turning their fingers blue. They’d look like the necks of the Kayan women, only with SPORTS DIRECT and FIND SHANNUN COME HERM on there. I planked only accidentally – by lying down when I was tired and/or to rest my ankles, though gone were the days when I used to tuck them behind my ears.

I pierced the wrong ear by mistake – imagine, had I not pierced the ‘gay’ ear, I’d be living at home with a pleasantly plump wife called Jenny and two wholesomely toothy children, I’m sure, though I’d be spending more time in a layby than an AA van. I attempted to put a piercing in my eyebrow but given my brows look like Kevin Webster’s nineties moustache, no-one noticed. I have thought about a tattoo – something tasteful, you understand, with lots of colour – but I lose weight and gain weight so often that it would end up just a blurry smear on my elasticated skin, as though I’d fallen asleep on a page from Take a Break. No, I’ll stay as I am.

The recipe, then. Both sides make enough for four people. Serve this with the amazing lamb I put up a few posts back. Can’t recall? Let me help.

to make sunshine potato salad and minted pea crush, you’ll need:

for the potatoes:

  • a bag of new potatoes, nice and small, cut into halves
  • half a red onion, chopped nice and fine
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt, pinch of pepper
  • two tablespoons of olive oil (12 syns)
  • a good pinch of turmeric, ground ginger and if you have it, lemongrass

You might be thinking: three syns for a portion of potato salad. Yes! But it’s nice. You can certainly buy syn-free SW potato salad from certain ‘cold’ retailers, but what price dignity?

for the peas:

  • 500g of frozen peas
  • 30g of grated pecorino, or any other hard cheese (HEA)
  • pinch of good salt
  • one clove of garlic
  • nice bunch of mint with the leaves removed
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (6 syns)
  • 3 tbsp of lemon juice

to make sunshine potato salad and minted pea crush, you should:

for the potatoes:

  • boil your new potatoes and chop the onion nice and fine
  • blend everything else together to make a light, creamy sauce – you’re not trying to drown an ex in it, you just want a lovely light coating
  • mix everything together!

I know, ridiculously easy. I used our poxy wee chopper thing from Amazon but it did the job perfectly – anything will do though, as long as you can whisk it super fast. Use the cat’s leg for all I care!

This is all the better for sitting in the fridge for a bit.

for the peas:

  • cook your frozen peas for just a moment in boiling water
  • blend absolutely everything together – you’re not aiming for a sauce but just a nice chunky mix – then plop it into a dish and season to taste

I know that seems so obvious, but I think getting sides to go with your dinner can be tricky – at least this is something new! Enjoy!

Looking for more ideas with what to do with vegetables other than scraping them directly into the bin? Well click the button and rejoice!

lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall sausagessmall  seafoodsmall

J

rich and tasty guinness BBQ meatballs

Guinness BBQ meatballs – yes, Guinness. This is a nice, hearty, manly meal which is sure to put hairs on your chest, which at least will be a pleasant distraction from whatever sauce you’ve managed to slop down there. I love a Guinness, although ordering one in a pub round here normally means deafening tuts and COPD-esque sighs as people are delayed getting to their fizzy piss pint.

As an aside, before we get to the recipe, I want to hear from anyone out there who works for canal boat holiday sorts – we’re looking to get something booked in but goodness me, is it expensive. Some help appreciated!

Right, the recipe…

to make guinness bbq meatballs you will need:

for the meatballs

Now, this is where I’d traditionally link to our Musclefood deal which has lots of mince 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 pork, say (unlike me), hoy some more chicken in there. Up to you. To help you, we’ve updated our Musclefood page so it has all of the syn values on there – click here for that – it’ll open in a new window.

for the sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ tsp sriracha (or any hot chilli sauce will do)
  • 250ml guinness (4.5 syns)
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp honey (5 syns)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (1 syn)
  • 80g tomato puree

to make guinness bbq meatballs you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200°c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • mix together all of the meatball ingredients until well combined
  • roll out the mixture into about 20 meatballs and place on the greaseproof paper
  • bake in the oven for about thirty minutes
  • meanwhile, mix together the cornflour with 2 tbsp water until dissolved and set aside
  • place a saucepan over a medium high heat and add a little oil
  • add the garlic cloves and stir for about thirty seconds
  • add the rest of the ingredients and the cornflour mixture into the pan and whisk to mix
  • bring to the boil, and keep whisking, then reduce the heat to a simmer
  • cook for another fifteen minutes, whisking regularly until the mixture has thickened and reduced
  • when the meatballs are cooked, remove from the paper and stir gently into the sauce to coat
  • serve

We’re here to make your life easier! Want some more ideas? Just click the buttons below!

beefsmallporksmallfakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmall sausagessmall  seafoodsmallbreakfastsmall soupsmallnaughtyfood

J

absolutely gorgeous lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb

Goodness, I meant to post this lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb recipe over Easter, but I completely forgot. I’m terribly sorry. I was only reminded to do so as I drove through the countryside yesterday and saw the cute little buggers prancing about finding their feet and trying out their little baa? Yes, I was so struck by their cuteness that I thought I must tell you all how best to cook them. Ah I’m kidding, I’ve had this recipe typed up for ages. If lamb isn’t your thing, that’s fine – remember, we do an awful amount of vegetarian recipes too. We cover all bases here at twochubbycubs! Look, I’ll even break with tradition and put the vegetarian button in right at the front! No excuses!
vegetariansmall

Right, with that out of the way, let’s get to eating! But first, the next part of our caravan tale! Would we have a comfortable sleep? Would Paul become Patient Zero on a super-gonorrhoea outbreak? Would I get change from a £20 note for any transaction? Read on!

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

click here for part one

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so: to bed.


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

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

lemon, garlic and rosemary roasted lamb

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

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

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

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

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

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmall

Enjoy!

J

marmalade glazed chicken

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

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

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

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

Montparnasse Tower

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

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

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

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

Le Relais Gascon

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

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

Boy, did we find somewhere lovely.

Basilique du Sacré Coeur

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

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

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

Le Bear’s Den

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

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

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

(I’m being slightly facetious).

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

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

I did, however, spot this.

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

Flight home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fin.


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

to make marmalade glazed chicken you will need:

to make marmalade glazed chicken you should:

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

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

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmall lunchsmall

Until we meet again…

J

speedy mexican lasagne and día de las madres

Mexican lasagne, yes, but first: happy Mother’s Day! Yes, it’s that time of the year again where mothers all around the country have to smile wanly through being woken up early and eating a poorly made fry-up just because their spawn have put a macaroni approximation of Mother on a card and can’t wait to give it over. A day where boxes of Dairy Box go through the roof, the Ambassador has a run on his Ferrero Rochers and there’s someone stabbed to death over a bunch of Tesco flowers at quarter to four. With my birthday on Wednesday I was hoping to come to some sort of arrangement with my mother where we don’t bother with cards and presents for each other but sadly she beat me to it. Bah! I know, my generosity warms your heart, no? I love my mum to bits – she’s me but twelve stone lighter and with a better moustache. I’ve typed many words over the years about how supportive she’s been, how honest she is, how hilarious I find her, how generous she can be, and well, we don’t need to go to that well again.

So, to mix it up, I thought I’d share a memory about my mother (I was going to call it a mummory, but that sounds too much like mammory, and Christ that wouldn’t be appropriate…well, perhaps for Paul’s story) and Paul would do the same. I’m even taking off his leash so he can type out his own words, bless him. You know, he always frets that he isn’t funny when he writes his bits so if you’re reading this, do me a favour and show him some love. Now, I know I always describe my childhood as some dystopian timescape where I was left foraging for seeds whilst Father toiled in the sun for pittance, but actually, it was full of laughter. I’ll give you one memory plucked from deep within.

James’ memory

I’ll open with a confession: my sister and I were horrible people sometimes growing up. But all kids are, even yours, so please don’t sit in judgement, you’ll only break the seat. We grew up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere and fighting and bickering and bullying was the only thing to do. My sister and I had a mortal enemy (well, no, we would be friends with her one minute and then, following a fall-out over a Madonna CD or something we’d all be bickering) in the village who we used to call by a very mean name to do with her top lip. She’d give as good as she got, mind, and we were forever fighting. Things came to a head one day on the school bus between my sister and this girl and there was an almighty scrap. Hair was pulled, there was lots of screaming and shrieking, but once I calmed down the fight itself was the usual girlfight. We were all unceremoniously chucked off the bus and made our way back to our own houses to calm down.

My mum comes into it at this point. She was busy watching Countdown when we snuck in, only to have the phone ring and it to be the mother of the other child ranting and raving. Now given we all used to fight with each other no one child was in the wrong, and my mother wasn’t having all the names being thrown at us via the phone. On went the comfortable shoes and out she strutted with a face like thunder, Lambert and Butler furiously clamped between her teeth as she departed. At the other end of the village was the other mother and they’d agreed to meet in the middle. Gasp! It was like a duel at sundown. We followed as surreptitiously as we could, hoping to see a flurry of fists and fag-ends and hair pulling, but it was all terribly anticlimactic – they shook hands, agreed their offspring were all little bastards and agreed to become alcoholics together and run away like a budget Thelma and Louise. We then both got the top layer of skin smacked off our arses and sent to bed.

Pfft. Oh and as a quick aside, who could forget the time I went careering off my bike, landed on my face tearing my lip open and I suspect breaking my nose, and she came running across four farm fields and a motorway with merely a teatowel to staunch the blood loss. No trip to the hospital either! No wonder I’ve got a nose that constantly whistles.

Right: over to Paul.

Paul’s memory

James loves me telling this story – I sometimes have to go through it as some sort of bedtime story to help him drift off but if anything it just makes him more awake through chuckling. This story takes place back in…oooh, I reckon about 2002-2003. I was a fresh-faced yet acne-pitted sixteen year-old on a residential weekend for some youth worker event. Me and my friend James (not my James, he was just whoring himself in Newcastle at the time) had been nominated to attend which was pretty much just an underage piss-up over at Loughborough University with a couple of workshops on during the day to make it seem a bit more legit. I had a whale of a time! Now, because my family were so poor, I was sent away with no more than £5 in my pocket – thankfully everyone else was kind enough to let me share their bottles of 20/20 and the odd Superking.

Anyway, when I returned home I did the usual thing of firing up the Compaq and dialling-up onto AOL to check on my Faceparty etc to see what had happened when I was gone. Mother, in all her Littlewoods-outlet-glory, was on fine form and almost as soon as I’d walked through the door (a fog of Lambrini fumes behind me) started arguing about something. Mother has this great knack of when she’s in a huff managing to pull an argument out of nowhere and flogging it and flogging it and flogging it until you just admit whatever wrongdoing she’s pinned on you just to get her to piss off. This argument started with something innocuous like me leaving the milk out (easily done), but then managed to snowball into a multitude of other things. I think she was just getting a weekends’ worth of whinging out of her system, like lancing a boil. So on it rolled –

“You drink far too much fackin’ squash. It’s no wonder you’re so fat! A pint! A fackin’ pint of squash!”

“I can never get you trousers, I have to go all the way to BHS for ‘em! They ent cheap, yer know!”

“And you nicked my Fleetwood Mac CD” – for some reason she was convinced that I’d stolen her Fleetwood Mac CD. Bear in mind that I was sixteen at that time and hadn’t even heard of Fleetwood Mac. What did she think I’d need with ‘Rumours’?! Anyway, it turned up years later in a DJ Sammy DC case of my brothers but she’s still convinced that I snuck in during the night after hopping on the midnight train from Newcastle to slip it back in.

This went on for a few hours and I was getting pretty tired (I was also likely still pissed) when she come around to “and I know you’re on that internet, speaking to them mens” – that’s a direct quote by the way, the Fens have a lot to answer for. I feigned outrage at such a suggestion, as I hurriedly minimised as many Gaydar chatroom windows as I could and ‘brb’d all the busily-wanking 40 year old blokes. I wasn’t prepared to put up with such slanderous accusations so I leapt out of that chair in preparation for a mega-strop out the back door. She must’ve been just as frustrated as I was and grabbed her flip-flop to give me a slap across the arse with it (as was the style at the time) and duly did, but in a state of pure rage I pushed her onto the sofa. I didn’t have a clue what to do next so I thought that I’d made it that far, I might as well do *something* so I grabbed her flip flop and slapped her on the arse back just as hard as I could. They still talk of the Phantom Slap that ricocheted round Yaxley to this very day, inbetween gazing cluelessly at aeroplanes and interbreeding. Her face was an absolute picture and it was completely worth it. I think it was a mixture of shock, bit of pain but also trying to understand what had just happened. Before she had a chance to retaliate I ran screaming from the house and spent a week living between friends houses so she could fucking find that CD and stop bloody whinging.

Back to James.

Bless him, he loves her really. The way one might miss the ache of an ingrown toenail once the doctor has removed it. Speaking of cheese, let’s do this mexican lasagne. Why is it Mexican? Who knows. I had refried beans in a Mexican restaurant a while back and, having spotted they’re free on SW, and inspired slightly by that meat’n’beans mince you get in ASDA, here we are! This serves six – we served ours with wedges done in the Actifry before you ask: the new Actifry is dropping in price again on Amazon!

mexican lasagne

to make mexican lasagne you will need:

  • 1kg beef mince
  • 16 pitted sliced green olives (3 syns)
  • 1 tin of refried beans (free!)
  • 3 tbsp of taco seasoning
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp sliced jalapeños
  • half an onion
  • half a box of lasagne sheets
  • 160g grated low-fat cheese (4x HeA)
  • 4 tbsp low fat sour cream (6 syns)
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

You get so much beef packed into our freezer filler with Musclefood that’ll give you a tingle somewhere intimate just thinking about it! Treat yourself: you can’t beat our meat. Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window!

to make mexican lasagne you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180°c
  • brown the mince in a large frying pan
  • meanwhile, chop up the green olives in a mini-chopper
  • tip the chopped olives into a bowl and then add the cherry tomatoes, jalapenos and onion and blitz to make a salsa
  • (you can do the above two steps by hand if needed)
  • add the chopped olives to the mince along with the taco seasoning, salsa and tin of refried beans, and stir well to combine
  • spray a little oil around a 9″x 13″ baking dish
  • add one third of the mince mixture to the dish and top with lasagne sheets
  • sprinkle over a quarter of the cheese
  • spoon over another third of the meat mixture and top with lasagne sheets and a bit of cheese, and then do that once more
  • sprinkle over the remaining cheese, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour
  • remove from the oven and add the diced tomato
  • drizzle over the sour cream and sprinkle over the spring onions and extra jalapenos
  • enjoy

Good news with all that spice too: you’ll have plenty of time to re-evaluate your life as it thunders back out of you later on!

More recipes you say? Of course.

poultrysmallbeefsmallporksmalllambsmallfakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmall

J

ooey gooey Slimming World risotto cake

Here for the fabulous layered risotto cake? Listen, we’d expect nothing less. But fair warning, it’s a savoury cake, so calm your boobs. Like us, you want something gooey, starchy and warm in your mouth, and you know that we are the guys who will give it to you without questions. No-one can pretend that this is going to be super-healthy for you as a day to day meal, but it’s low in syns, full of flavour and surprisingly easy to make. A perfect family dish. But first…oui oui! Let’s head back to France, my loves!

click here for part one  | click here for part two

You may remember we’d had a rather drunken night in the hotel the night before? Well, we had booked a tour of the Paris Catacombs in a gin-soaked fit of YEAH FUCK WAITING IN LINES that would normally leave me hyperventilating with the extravagance. As we stepped out of the hotel a passing Frenchman asked if I had a light for a cigarette so I passed him my American Express card, which was smouldering like a spent match. We Ubered our way over to the catacombs entrance and were immediately glad of the fact we had booked a private tour – the queue was already out the door and away down the street.

Serious tip: if you’re planning a visit, pay the extra and get on a tour. I looked on TripAdvisor and lines of four to five hours are common, with the added bonus of the organisers shutting the catacombs without notice and making you queue all over again the next day. We paid about £140 through getyourguide (paying extra because it was last minute) but the ability to just turn up and go in was brilliant. I do think that it’s usually worth paying the extra for these things when you’re on a short break because your time is as valuable as your money.

We were met by our tour guide Ari, who I instantly recognised as the actor who played Philip Martin in Neighbours, who counted us in and explained we would see bits that others don’t get to see and that the whole thing would take about an hour and a half, capped off with the return to the summit up a tight, narrow and exceptionally steep staircase of eighty eight steps. Paul and I both gasped audibly at this point, causing the group to stare at us with utter disdain and the tour guide to radio ahead to have an ambulance on standby.

The tour involved lots of walking and staring at the neatly stacked bones of millions of dead French folk. Sounds awful, yes? It wasn’t, it was utterly fascinating. Knowing that these tunnels were build so long ago, in such cramped and awful conditions, and that there are literally hundreds of miles of them, was a sobering thought. Even I stopped cracking jokes when met with a pile of skulls and bones bigger than my house. There’s lots of hidden things too, such as a miniature hospital carved into the limestone and a facsimile of a seaport that some intrepid miner had created. Mind-boggling. You forget, and it’s really terribly sad, that all of these bones belonged to living people with families and jobs, and they’ve been interred beneath the city without a name or a memorial other than to have hundreds of thousands of tourists ignoring the no flash rule and photographing themselves pulling silly faces in front of a stack of legs. When I die I want to be stuffed and sat in a chair (in a tee-shirt covered in blood with IT WAS MAGS WITH A SHARPENED COCK-SHAPED SHAGALUF LIGHTER scrawled across it) at the local Slimming World class, a reminder to everyone that there’s bigger things to worry about than spending half a syn on a sausage.

I’m going to post a few pictures now, but do feel free to scroll on by. Spin that wheel quickly if bones creep you out.

“Wherever you go, death follows the body’s shadow”

To give you an idea of how cramped it can be – but it is far more open when you’re in the crypts. Well, you need space to stretch your legs when you’re dead.

To give you an idea of how tall this pile is, I’m 6ft 1″, and I took this on my tip-toes with my arms outstretched above my head. Think how many ‘people’ are in this photo alone.

Miles upon miles of bones stacked like this – beautiful, creepy and amazing all at once. Oh, and it was good of Paul’s mother to drop in:

“yer yer y’know Bejewelled 3 yer HOW de yer get credits yer yer WELL ‘E GOES ON ABOUT JIMMY FACKIN’ SAVILLE ALL THE TIME COUGH COUGH SPLUTTER COUGH”

We were joined briefly and awkwardly by some lovely but super-flighty woman who asked us a stream of random nonsense – were there tarantulas down here, did I think the air smelled funny, what do the bats eat? Paul made the fatal error of not looking at her blankly and gesturing to his ears to pretend he was deaf, and she was away, jolly-hockey-sticking about her holidays in Paris and her homes in Berkshire and all other such terribly interesting flimflam. I made as though I wanted to take a picture of a pile of skulls and disappeared to the back of the queue, where I was able to look at her high-heeled shoes with disdain. Who thinks that high-heels are just the ticket to wear to an underground crypt full of puddles and mud and cobbles? I could barely make the distance and I was wearing my usual Build-a-Bear shoes! I mistook the clattering of her shoes for some of the bones reanimating like the old Scotch video-tape adverts.

The tour lasted a good two hours and I have to confess, towards the end, I was beginning to wonder if it was a cruel joke and they were planning on leaving us down there. I don’t care who you are, you lose the ability to sincerely go ‘eeee never’ and ‘goodness’ at yet another pile of bones. I’m just being honest. Everyone was respectful but you could tell the mood was turning and it was with barely hidden relief that Ari told us we were at the end of the tour and freedom was that worrisome flight of stairs away. Paul and I loitered at the back so that no-one would be treated to my especially fragrant arse in their face as we ascended and fuck me, we nearly died. I know it’s not a terrific amount of stairs but it was steep and very, very tight, plus you can’t stop to admire the view / hyperventilate. Thankfully our group had spilled out onto the street and only a couple of eyebrows were raised at our beetroot faces and shaking legs. You’d think we’d escaped from Alcatraz via Ben Nevis – it was all I could do to pretend I was interested in some tatty nonsense in the gift shop whilst I desperately tried to replenish my oxygen levels. I know for next time: bring a spare tank of oxygen ‘just in case’.

We managed to get our breath back and our resting heartbeat back to its usual 166BPM after four hours and by that time we were bloody starving. Nothing sobers the mind about your health like a shocking burst of exercise and so we thought it only right to have a small side salad with our colossal pizza. Don’t worry, we’re not pigs, we left it. We had ducked into the first promising little bistro we came across and it’s only a slight exaggeration to tell you our pizza was the size of a conference room carpet. You know you’re in trouble when it takes eight waiters coming in like pallbearers to fetch your dinner. We sat and ate our quarter-tonne of dough whilst people watching, our favourite thing. Paris is so stylish, isn’t it? Even the roadsweepers looked graceful as he tried to brush a dog-shit into his little sweeper, leaving a cheery doughnut-smear on the path just by our table. I wish I could say it put us off our lunch but fuck it, you know we’re fat bastards.

We paid the bill, as ever unsure as to whether to leave a tip on the table or don’t tip at all because it’s rude to tip, so we settled on slipping the waiter a note (of money, I mean, not our phone number scrawled in lip-gloss with ‘we’ll be gentle’ underneath) as we left. We’re just so smooth. We wandered for a bit just to take in the scenery. Well, no, that’s what normal folks do, we however spent a good fifteen minutes trying to find a toilet so Paul could ‘drop the kids off’. He was, apparently, too embarrassed to ask where the lavatory was at lunch and so it was that, yet again, I found myself loitering outside an automatic toilet for longer than could ever be considered reasonable. This time, determined not to be arrested for being a sex pervert, I went off into a tiny little bakers and bought us both something gooey and delicious. Paul emerged a good while later, having deposited something gooey and absolutely not delicious, and was delighted to see I’d rewarded him for his foul behaviour by buying him a treat. I hope he’s not like a dog – I don’t want him stopping at every toilet we see thinking he’s going to get a tarte aux pomme for his trouble. Anyway, enough toilet talk (we’re just going through the motions!) (eh?).

We Ubered back across the city to visit the The Centre Pompidou, despairing as we arrived at the site of a colossal queue snaking around the building. Why? Why can’t WE be the only tourists visiting Paris? It seemed so unjust. We were about to move on when, seized by a combination of rashness and swollen ankles, I decided that we really just ought to queue. Paul was aghast, but I promised him an ice-cream when we were inside. As it happens, the queue moved quickly, not least because we were afforded the chance to snark on every single stereotype about drippy artsy-fartsy folk whilst we waited. See:

  • nobody wants to listen to you play two notes on a didgeridoo over and over and over whilst slapping the ground with your foot – that isn’t expressing yourself, it’s being an annoyance, and that’s why people were avoiding you;
  • nobody wants to see the black soles of your filthy feet whilst you walk around ‘being free’ and giving people flowers;
  • nobody is going to buy your bangles and trinkets, they look like fire-damaged electrical cord, you lunatic wench;
  • no, I don’t want to donate to your cause;
  • no, I don’t want to fill out a ‘survey’ where we’ll get to the end and you’ll ask me to donate anyway;
  • no, I don’t want to hear anything other than Paul reading the ice-cream menu aloud.

It was like this:

Anyway, after fourteen weeks of waiting, we were in the building. Paul got himself a Magnum and I had a prim bottle of water so I could sip it and look thoughtfully at the art. If only I’d grown my beard I could have stroked it in that bloody aggravating manner people have.

Now: I’m sorry. I know we’re going to sound like philistines. I know. But it was boring. There were some pieces of art that did jump out at me and I enjoyed having a gander at those, but personally, I found the mix of modern art (wank) and the more traditional pieces to be very tiring indeed. I know my faults and having very little interest in gallery art is one of them. There was an exhibition by Cy Twombly there that looked like something a troubled child might do with a box of Crayola and the threat of violence. I’m about as artistic as the stuff you bleed from a radiator but even I thought I’d do a better job with an Argos pen.  People were gazing at each painting and I felt like I was going mad – that I wasn’t seeing some revelatory twist to the paintings that everyone else was experiencing. One lady looked like she was about to come and all that was in front of her was a white canvas with some blue squiggles on it. I’ve never been more perplexed in my life. In fact, I was trying so hard to work it out that I bumped into Paul sending him stumbling over the little black tape on the floor which in turn set off an alarm and caused a very gruff security man to shout at us. A French couple, clearly sharing a moustache, spat at us as we left.

The view from outside, over the streets of Paris, was lovely, mind. Oh, and it was good of Paul’s mother to drop in:

“well ofcourse ‘e don’t fackin’ listen see yer yer I mean I’ve told ‘im and ‘e still goes on a-mean it’s not right yer hockle hockle phlegm yer”

There were two exceptions to the pile of wank, though. There was an installation of contemporary art from the old USSR which was interesting – I didn’t quite have an epiphany but at least I wasn’t scratching at the walls to be let out. Lots of hammers and sickles and people saying ‘but yes of course’ and ‘how daaaah-ring’. I nodded my way through. The other piece was a giant ultramarine painting by Yves Klein and I was only struck by that because I’d love a car in the same shade.

Hmmm yes, yes I see what the artist is trying to say: every man is an island, time is fleeting, don’t oversalt your pasta and the oppressive commercialisation of the modern age is terrifying.

We did give it a good try, though – we went into every exhibition, we read all the little wee leaflets, we tried not to look like thick Geordies abroad, but I’m guessing we failed. We stepped into a tiny cinema on the second floor which was screening a tiny arthouse movie. We took our seats and promptly fell asleep, our bodies glad of the chance to sit down and digest all that dough from earlier. We woke a good twenty minutes later when the bombast of the closing credits brought us round. We left, shame-faced, although I’m sure we’ll be listed on some tosser’s Tripadvisor report in no time at all: “My children, Persephone, Hedge-Fund and Hugo Chinnery-Pissflaps, were paaasitively screaming to watch the Hungaaaarian tilt-shift documentary on corn-growing but it was simply ruined by the two rubenesque leviathans farting and snoring in the corner. Can’t recommend”. Pfft.

Seems like a good point to leave it, actually. So much more to come! Remember, I’d truly love your feedback!


Anyway, you’re lucky to get a post at all – I’ve been playing Breath of the Wild pretty much non-stop since last Friday. Can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is. If you’re on the fence about getting a Nintendo Switch and/or this game, you need to get off and take action.

This recipe then: it’ll serve eight if you have it with a side-salad or four as a hearty bowl of yum. Customise it however you want – stuff it full of asbestos for all I mind – it’s just a fun way of presenting the food and also, perfect cold night fare. It lasts well in the fridge too so champion if you want it for lunch. Let’s do this! We found this recipe in a Sicilian cookbook which a friend bought and I coveted so badly I had to Amazon Prime Now it. We’ve adapted it for Slimming World. Oh, and it’s known as a rice timbale, but I much prefer an ooey-gooey risotto cake, and, as I’m the fat bugger in charge, that’s what we’re calling it. Although this does serve eight, I’m going to err on the side of fat caution and syn it as though it makes four servings, so you can have a canny big serving.

to make an ooey-gooey risotto cake, you’ll need:

  • 500g of arborio/risotto rice
  • two large onions, cut finely
  • two cloves of garlic (minced, using one of these bad-boys for speed)
  • 175ml of white wine (optional, leave it out if you want – if adding, add 1.5 syns per serving)
  • 500ml of good passata – don’t be tight, buy a decent brand – we used a passata with basil in for a bit of oomph, but you’re really looking for something made from cherry tomatoes where possible – though don’t shit the bed if you can’t find it
  • 900ml of chicken stock (or veggie) made up
  • 50g of fresh parmesan (10 syns)
  • 240g of light mozzarella (4 x HEA)
  • 600g of spinach
  • a jar of those big roasted red peppers (optional)

to make an ooey-gooey risotto cake, you should:

Think of this recipe as nothing more than making a risotto, taking it a wee bit further than you normally would when cooking it, then assembling it into a ‘cake’.

  • whack the oven onto 180 degrees and carefully line a cake tin (if you don’t have one, you could do this in a pyrex dish just as easy) – I used a square cake tin like this one but really, anything that’s deep and about 8 or 9 inches across (I’ve said that before) – we line our tins with greaseproof paper and a top tip, if you have some metal (NOT PLASTIC) bulldog clips to hand, use them to clip the paper in place once you’ve lined the tin
  • get a big heavy pan out (preferably non-stick) and gently fry off the onion and garlic in a few sprays of olive oil until they’re softened
  • chuck in the rice and allow to toast gently – couple of minutes at most until it crackles
  • if you’re using wine, throw it in at this point and allow to simmer off for a good three minutes (stir to make sure things don’t stick)
  • add the passata, pinch of black pepper, salt and two thirds of the stock
  • now the boring part – it’ll take about twenty to thirty minutes, but you want the mixture to bubble away on a medium heat with you stirring every now and then, topping it up with stock when the liquid gets low, until you have a nice thick risotto – remember, you want to bubble away past the point of normal risotto – you want a good ‘firm’ risotto – add in 40g of the parmesan, stir and set aside to cool
  • prepare your spinach by chucking it in another pan with a splash of boiling water – keep it on a medium heat but allow the steam to wilt the leaves right down – then sieve and chop it finely to remove as much liquid as you can and make sure you season with a bit of salt and pepper
  • assembly time: put half the risotto in the bottom of the cake tin, flatten it out the best you can, then top with the mozzarella (sliced, obviously), spinach and red peppers (they open up like a book) – don’t worry about neatness, just chuck it in any old way
  • put the rest of the risotto over the top, sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan, and cook in the oven for about twenty five minutes
  • once everything is lovely and golden and bubbling, remove and leave to stand for a good ten to fifteen minutes to firm up
  • dish up and fall in love!

Now, like I said earlier, customise this to your heart’s content. Change the risotto, change the filling, add more veg, add meat (cooked slice bacon would be lovely), use a different cheese. It would also look slightly prettier in a round cake tin rather than a square tin, but make do with whatever you’ve got. If it all slops apart, don’t worry, you’ve still got a delicious dinner! Keep some for lunch the next day. To sex it up, I’d add some chorizo to the risotto, but remember to syn it or your consultant will be farting through your letterbox.

Want more recipes? Of course you do. Click the buttons below and crack on!

fakeawayssmall lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall

Enjoy!

J

PS: we’re currently changing the ‘share this buttons’ – so if you’re wondering where they’ve gone, just hold on, they’ll be back!