the best Slimming World carbonara bar none

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

to make perfect Slimming World carbonara you will need:

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

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

to make perfect Slimming World carbonara you should:

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

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Part two coming soon! Enjoy!

J

bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs

Is there a more unattractive name than sloppy cubs? I’m worried that if you type that into google you’ll end up with our other blog, where we discuss things to do with willymilk that’ll really put hairs on your chest. But hey, I like a bit of clickbait title, so bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs it is!

I’m going to talk seriously about something that’ll make you panic. Wheeze. Clutch at your chest. Possibly even cry.

Exercise.

Now before I do, let me explain that I know there’s nothing worse than the fervent zeal someone who has just started doing something (like going to the gym, or not smoking, or wiping their arse the proper way) (front to back) and feels the need to tell everyone else why they should do it. I’m not going to be that person. But here me out.

If you’re wanting to go to the gym, and you’re scared of what people will think of you, put your trainers on and go. Don’t waste another second worrying about the looks you’ll get as a fat person exercising, or the snide remarks people might make as you struggle on the machines, because honestly, it just doesn’t happen. If it does, people hide it well. I’ve had support from blokes built like they could compress me into a cube the size of a fluffy dice, women who could run further in an hour than I have in my entire life, but for the most part, thankfully, wonderfully, I’ve been totally ignored. Don’t let a pointless fear hold you back.

And I love my gym. I won’t tell you which one it is, partly for the paragraph following this one but also because I don’t want anyone joining and interrupting my treadmill with ‘HOW MANI SYNS HUN’ whilst waving a bottle of Lölt from the Aldi next door. You know someone would. But I enjoy the fact I can turn up any time I want, sweat a bit on the treadmill and then leer lasciviously at the chaps doing the boxing. Everyone just gets on with what they’re doing, and, unlike that time we signed up at David Lloyd, it isn’t full of peacocking men grunting in front of the mirror like the bellends they are.

That said…

I have a real problem with the exercise bikes. You’ll laugh, but it’s incredibly awkward. I can sit and merrily pedal away for a good thirty minutes now, working up a sweat, but I must be pressing on a nerve or something because it always gives me a solid, diamond-cutting, hammer-a-nail-into-a-brick-wall level erection. I genuinely have to sit for a good few minutes ‘cooling down’ before I can dismount and sweat somewhere else. I stress that I don’t get a sexual kick out of watching a blurry More4 on the bike monitor, it must be a purely physiological reaction, but god help me if the fire alarm ever goes off and I’ve got to jump down fully torqued and ready for action.

I asked Paul whether he suffered the same thing and he advised me to put the saddle back on the bike before I sit on it. Because ha-de-ha-ha. He’s not the one inadvertently pressing the emergency stop button without moving his hands. You’re thinking I’m boasting? It’s not like I told you I used it to open the window with and wipe my face.

Whilst we were having a gym conversation, I also asked Paul what the funniest sight he’s even seen in a gym was. Turns out there used to be a gym in deepest darkest Peterborough where people smoked as they exercised. I don’t know what tickles me more – the thought of the ashtray on a treadmill or the fact that people could be so contradictory. That said, you may recall the time I witnessed a lady outside of Tesco with her fag in one hand and an inhaler in the other: now that’s commitment.

Anyway, yes, just a short entry tonight if you please as we have things to do, but by God it’s a good one. You know sometimes you just need something sloppy, cheesy and packed full of meat – but you don’t have Katie Price’s number to hand? Well this will hit the spot, I promise.

bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs

to make bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs you will need:

  • 4x HeB buns (we used brioche buns in ours, because it makes the photo nicer, but you get the drift)
  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp passata
  • 1 tbsp american-style mustard (1/2 syn, between four, I mean haway)
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 4 slices bacon medallions
  • 125ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (mixed with 2 tbsp COLD water) (1 syn, between four, so again up to you…)
  • 160g reduced-fat cheddar cheese (4 x HEA)

We’ve got loads of good Musclefood hampers at the moment but, SHOCK, you can build your own hamper! Pick which slimming items you want and go go go! Fill yer boots with mince and bacon until the cows never come home again. Click HERE to build your own hamper!

Whilst we’re here, Musclefood are also selling Frylight – three bottles for three quid! We don’t use it ourselves but if you fancy it, it’s right here!

to make  bacon cheeseburger sloppy cubs you should:

  • first of all, get the bacon cooking to however you like it – we put it in our OptiGrill but you can do yours however you like. When it’s cooked, remove to a plate until you need it
  • meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium-high heat, add a little oil and chuck in the mince
  • cook until a nice crust forms on the bottom, then begin to break up
  • when the mince is nearly fully cooked, remove from the pan and add the onion
  • let the onion cook for 2-3 minutes, THEN stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes
  • add the mince back into the pan
  • stir in the beef stock, cornflour, worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and mustard
  • cook the mixture until it’s nice and sticky and not as watery – you want it to be a bit wet, but not too wet (fnar)
  • remove then pan from the heat, add the cheese and stir until it is all melted
  • add a slice of bacon to each of the buns, and top with the mince mixture.
  • eat!

Serve it with chips and chest pains.

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J

syn-free carbonara quiche – yes, it’s amazing

Evening all! Carbonara quiche if you don’t mind – I was looking at the proper ham and egg quiche we did a long while ago and wondering how we could make it better without adding to the syns. And boy, have we managed it. You’ll find the recipe below. Now, because we have guests coming over tonight, we’re going to hand you over to a guest writer! It’s been a while but I love getting new writers in, not least because it means I get to rest my wanking wrist for a bit. I implore you – please, as fans of my blog – to leave feedback. There’s something fun about reading comments from an audience who appreciate you, and I love to share. If you want to write for us, leave a comment below or contact us via our Facebook page here.

This one’s all about pregnancy – you can understand, can’t you, why we’ve never covered this on our totally gay blog? I can’t remember much about my own labour other than it was a fairly easy one. Well, no, I finished typing that sentence and called my own mother to ask her whether it was true. Her response? “It was like trying to shit a melon”.

See, it’s that type of chat that meant we were never on the front cover of Prima or Your Baby. Sounds like I was a big bugger though – 9lb! First and only time in my life I’ve wrecked a woman’s vagina. Paul was even worse – he didn’t exactly come swinging out like Tarzan like you might expect from his mother, but rather, in typical Paul fashion, he finished eating his tea (his twin sister, who he absorbed in the womb, the fat bastard) and slopped out at a mere 4lb.

Plot twist: he was so weak when he was born that the vicar gave him the last rites. To be fair, the poor bugger was probably gasping for a cigarette. The only baby I know who has yellow fingertips in the photographs. Eee, on that note…


baby, baby, baby nooo – by Julie Wansboro

So it’s bad enough that you end up the size of a small cottage when you fall pregnant without then having to meet all those ‘Mothers of Year’ in waiting rooms. It starts in the doctors surgery when you come out with a little cheesy grin and you see people smiling at you knowingly. Of course they don’t know but you think your smile has given it away instantly.

They’re like velociraptors, seeking out a new mum and ripping her ideas to shreds.  Why, oh why do they feel the need to tell you about their horrendous child birthing experiences?  It could reduce you to tears or hurling depending on your strength of stomach. They talk of tears, stitches, forceps and ripping, the burn, the stretching.  They’re not content with that, they go to discuss the whole labour experience from the first ‘braxton hicks’ and the hilarious mad dashes to the hospital thinking they’re in labour followed by laughter.  All the while you’re trapped in this waiting room praying they call you in next.

Dignity leaves the room the day you fall pregnant, no end of clinicians will view parts of your body that you’ve never seen in your life and nor did you want to (well you might want and if you’re a contortionist might well have).  During one of my four birthing experiences I was asked if I’d like a mirror to be held at the business end so I could see the head crowning?! What kind of sadistic bastards are you?  No, no I don’t want to see that, if I’d wanted to see that I’d be a midwife.  Are they trying to scar me for life?  Beautiful my arse!  Whilst I agree the whole falling pregnant, having a healthy baby is indeed a minor miracle at the same time millions of women manage to give birth every day without having to watch.

J Edit: I’m sorry but this is hilarious – why a mirror? I’d rather there was an amateur dramatics group just to the side recreating it by trying to roll a bowling ball through a rasher of bacon

Being awkward I’m O-neg, so joy of joys I marry an O-pos! This means absolutely nothing to anyone until you fall pregnant then it’s like arrrggghhh what have you done!!They decide you are a pin cushion and you must have blood tests on every possible trip to the hospital for check-ups.  Woe betide you if they then discover you’re anaemic, the joy of iron tablets, black poo and constipation to accompany the ever-growing circumference of your middle.  It gets to the point where you forget what your knees look like or know if you’re wearing matching shoes.

Then you get the talk about breast feeding, cracked nipples stories, swollen breasts and leaking…….stop please, I really don’t need to know.  Where are the mums who tell you the great stories, the love at first sight of their babies stories that make you forget the journey there?  Oh hang on, they’re the same mums telling you the horror stories!!!!  Four children later the stone I gained with each of them has managed to rigidly stick to my ribs, Zara my SW saviour has helped shift two of those stones and I reckon by the end of the year I’ll have shifted another one.  Wish me luck!


Well, frankly, it all sounds horrendous. Paul and I are never going to be one of those gay couples who both jizz in a tea-cup and slosh it inside a willing lady using the ‘blow’ function on a Henry hoover. That is how it works, isn’t it? For one, I can’t bear waste, and two, no. There’s no stage of childhood that I think is worth the upheaval. Babies are red-faced poo machines, toddlers are angry red-faced poo machines, children are vexing time-sponges and teenagers are rude pockets of acne and emotion.

I’ve mentioned before that I hate it when people bring their baby over to me and expect me to be all emotional and coo over it. I can’t. I have zero paternal instinct. I see a bundle of beetroot cells swaddled in something far too expensive from Mothercare and I just shudder. I’ve found that people have stopped doing it now that I pick the baby up and put it in the filing cabinet as protest.

Oh and let’s be honest, any combination of Paul and I is going to look awful. It’ll come out with my bent nose, Paul’s boss-eyes, my ‘yes, I’m British working class’ teeth and Paul’s inability to grow a decent beard. What hope would it have?

Anyway, let’s do this carbonara quiche recipe, shall we? I’ve mixed things up a bit from the previous quiche – our all time most-visited recipe, you know – so pay attention. This makes enough for eight good thick wedges – plus it freezes well!

to make carbonara quiche, you’ll need:

  • two large red onions (or white onions, tsk, racist)
  • 8 large eggs (and look, the best you can get, please – it’s the main part of the recipe and well, treat yourself)
  • about 500g of gammon or bacon – I bought a 1kg uncooked joint from Lidl for £3, cut it into cm cubes and froze half of it for another time – either way, you’ll want to dice it into cubes
  • a pack of cherry tomatoes
  • 100ml of 1% milk (2 syns, or 1/3 of a HEA) (to be honest, I didn’t syn this – it’s between 8 servings, so it’s a quarter of a ruddy syn)
  • 100g of spaghetti or however much you have left over at the end of a meal
  • 120g of lighter mature cheddar (3 x HEA, but you can cut that back if you like)
  • one clove of garlic or one tsp of that lazy garlic you can buy

You’ll also need a decent cake-tin. I use a silicone baking tin and absolutely nothing sticks to it – click here to order one. One of the best we’ve ever used! I give it a couple of sprays with olive oil – not Frylight – and the dispenser we use can be found here. We fill it with olive oil and if we’re bothering to syn, we syn it the same as the Tesco sprayer at 7 squirts for 0.5 syns. We hate Frylight.

to make carbonara quiche, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 170 degrees and get a pan of water boiling for your spaghetti
  • once the water is boiling, throw in your spaghetti – has anyone taught you the spaghetti trick? Grasp all your spaghetti together in your wrist like…er, well, honestly, like you’re gripping a cock, lower the ends of the spaghetti in the water and let go – it’ll fan out into the water rather than going in as one big lump
  • chop up your onion and in a frying pan, sweat it off with your garlic and bacon / gammon chunks until the onion and garlic is soft and the bacon is cooked
  • whilst that’s sweating, prepare your cherry tomatoes – you don’t want the seeds in the quiche otherwise you’ll make it too watery so, pop those tomatoes! You don’t need to be fancy, literally burst them in a bowl, tear them in half and put the flesh in a bowl on the side
  • drain your spaghetti and run it under cold water to cool it down and stop it sticking together
  • in a jug, beat your eight eggs and milk with a load of black pepper – no salt though, the bacon/gammon will be salty enough
  • grate your cheese – this is where the microplane grater we always bang on about comes in handy, it does it so finely that it spreads out easily!
  • mix everything together (hold back a handful of cheese for the top) in a big mixing bowl – get your hands right in there – you want everything mixed well – and once combined, slop it into your cake tin
  • press down any errant strands of spaghetti and top with the remaining cheese
  • cook in the oven for a good forty minutes – test it by sticking a knife into the centre – it should come back clean – if it doesn’t, keep cooking it until everything is set – cover the top with foil if you think it is starting to catch
  • cool and serve

Two pointers: this is AMAZING the day after, once it’s sat in the fridge – and it is perfect for freezing and lunches. Also, if after you’ve mixed everything together, if it looks as though you need another egg, crack another one in. You don’t want it too ‘sloppy’ but there needs to be a decent liquid to contents ratio. Oh, I’m so flirty!

Please tell everyone you can about this recipe, it’s a corker and we love it so!

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Stay safe.

J

steak, feta and veg wraps – more lunch ideas

I know, wraps again. This blog has more terrifying wraps than a Madonna comeback album, though I flash my fadge in skintight leggings far less than that old bugger does. But listen, there’s method in my madness – I thought that saying as you might have went and bought a packet of wraps to make the last delicious recipe, you might have some left over, and so, here we are. At least I’ve saved you the ignominy of coming up with some dire alternative use for your spare wraps like the barely-breathing idiots who write into those lifestyle magazine Top Tips pages.

Case in point, I once saw someone who had unspooled a load of VHS tapes, taken the ribbon out and hung them in her doorway like those multi-coloured strips of plastic you used to see in poor people’s houses to keep the smell of chip fat out of their living room. Nothing says glamour like trying to serve a tray of Findus Crispy Pancakes through a mouthful of TDK 240. Actually, much to my eternal chagrin, I’m sure one of my grandmothers had this in her kitchen until the end of a Superking Yardstick Ultra caught the plastic and set it away.

Actually, there was one worse than that – I might have mentioned it before so longtime readers give yourself a minute – pick your teeth, flick your bean, sing a song – but someone had actually taken the time and effort to write in and explain that when they had tired of having a beer fridge (I mean there’s your first clue as to the type of person writing in) in their living room, they had taken the plug off it and affixed it to their bathroom wall. Why? Who knows. Who thinks that a big nicotine-yellow FOSTERS fridge hanging above their hundreds of half-empty bottles of Tresemme is just the place to keep their tampons and bog roll? I mean honestly.

And, oh god, there’s more – this is like picking a scab. I wanted to find you a picture of the fridge on the wall and I happened across an absolute belter – some dreary bugger who makes his own jigsaws by shredding family photos and putting them back together. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get much joy about the thought of seeing my poor mother descending through the shredder and then trying to sort her fizzog from my bank statements. What possesses people?

Anyway, just a quick post tonight, not least because I’m absolutely itching to get in the bath with my Chat Fame and Fortune magazine and find out what Devinaha from Runcorn’s knicker-stains says about her upcoming future.

to make steak, feta and veg wraps you will need:

To make steak, feta and veg wraps you should:

  • mix together the red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano and pour over the steaks, coating them well
  • mix together the yoghurt, lemon juice, cucumber and mint sauce and pop in the fridge
  • next – prepare the meat and veg – we used an Optigrill for this bit and it was cracking! Just slap it on and go, and you can even chuck it in the dishwasher afterwards. You can of course use a normal grill and a pan and it’ll still be dead tasty
    • if you’re using the Optigrill, simply press the manual button, set to Red, preheat and then add the peppers and courgette and cook for about 5 minutes. Then, press the steak button, slap the meat on and cook to your liking, remove to a plate and then slice
    • if you’re using the grill, heat to medium-high and spread the vegetables out on a tray, cook for about 5 minutes each side, turning frequently. Then, preheat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and cook the steak for about 3-4 minutes each side, remove to a plate and then slice
  • take a wrap and layer with the yoghurt dressing, steak, courgettes, peppers and feta and fold up, and repeat for the other four
  • enjoy!

Yamas! Fancy more tasty recipes? You’ll get a tonne of them just by clicking one of the buttons below for whatever tickles your fancy!

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J

summer salad with fried feta and a tomato consommé

You wanted summer recipes, so here’s two: summer salad with fried feta and a tomato and nasturtium consommé. But first, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The searing hot, radioactive, giant ball of gassy matter that pumps out offensive levels of heat and that could kill us all. That’s right, my husband – he’s currently in bed, so I’m going to discuss the sun. For those in Scotland:

this is the sun – it’s the thing that turns you from that milky white colour to freshly butchered mince in 8 seconds.

I hate it. I’ve discussed at length the many things I hate about the great British summer but, because I’m a) tetchy and b) fat and c) sweaty, I’m going to moan about it again.

Insects

Literally everywhere you turn. Now I’m not daft, I know bees are important and without them we wouldn’t have pollination and food and existence and, perhaps more importantly, this gif of a bee giving a high-five:

but even so. Just once I’d like to spend more than eight minutes outside without something biting me, swarming at me, worrying me or just giving me shitty looks. I took this salad outside yesterday to take a decent photo in the light and I swear I’ve come back without at least one full layer of skin thanks to all the bites. I know I’m irresistible but I’d love to enjoy a meal outside without the both of us swearing and screaming like the table is on fire and we’re eating petrol sandwiches. The situation escalated surprisingly quickly when Paul knocked over a bottle of limoncello syrup – you can imagine how the wasps and bees reacted to that. Hopefully they’ve got smashed off their tits and are comatose in a hedge somewhere, the vespine equivalent of a teenager celebrating getting his fingers wet. I know of a friend who foolishly went camping in summer at Kielder Forest and was sent back to Newcastle by a roaming gang of midges. And we’re Geordies, you understand, we’re geet hard as ‘owt. Pfft.

Cars

Dogs die in hot cars. True, and you always get a satisfying story in the papers of some idiotic clot who dashed into a clinic to get her vag steamed only to leave poor Fido sizzling away on the parcel shelf, who then came out to find some hero has smashed all the windows in the car and called her a c*nt on national TV. I’d be tempted to let the dog out and do a big steaming shit all over her steering wheel, claiming the dog did it out of distress. But that’s not all – getting into my car at the moment is like trying to make yourself comfortable in an active volcano. I climbed in yesterday, peeling layers of skin off my hands as I did so, and found that the car was registering 34 degrees. 34! I turned the engine on expecting the car to blow up and leave me smeared across the street like fat jam. Paul’s car is even worse thanks to his asthmatic air-conditioning – I had to check whether he’d bought a new air-freshener yesterday but the smell of cooking bacon turned out to be the seatbelt clip sinking into my tit like a hot knife through butter.

Increased neighbour interaction

Most – though not all – of my neighbours are decent folks now, especially since they’ve had five years to come around to the fact that two gay men living on their street doesn’t mean we’re going to have all-night orgies and an amyl-nitrate fountain put in the front garden. About half of them actually stop to talk to us now, would you believe. That’s acceptable, but it means we also see the other half a lot more. Take this morning. I was awoken at 8am by the sound of my neighbour yanking and swearing at his shitty Lidl lawnmower to try and get it started. You need to understand that there’s only two reasons I ever want to be woken up on a Sunday before 11am: either I’m sleepshopping naked in ASDA and I’ve got my cock resting in the bananas or Paul has managed to convince the entire first team squad of the Newcastle Falcons that I’m their pre-game warm-up.

He eventually managed to get his £7.99 lawnmower going (and bearing in mind he’s one of these type of folks who’ll spend £35,000 on a car then never take it out of third gear) and I was left trying to dose whilst he whirred and spluttered and farted around his postage-stamp lawn. At 8am. On a Sunday. When he is fully retired and could do this at any time during the week. You can imagine my good humour, can’t you? I did a terribly British thing of getting up and slamming the window shut, but that in turn made the room boiling hot so I had to get up. Paul slept on. You know when they detonate those giant cooling towers and they crumble to the ground in a cloud of dust and excitement? You could stick Paul on a camp-bed right in the epicentre of the blast and he’d still only fart, turn over and start grizzling about his lumpy pillows. The fat bastard.

Go out and enjoy yourself  

Oh fuck off. I can enjoy the oppressive heat when I’m lying baking on a beach in Corsica, somewhere where I can dash into the sea to wipe away my sweaty boob rash and to peel my scrotum away from the sides of my ankle if it gets too much, but what can we do here? As I said, we can’t sit in the garden because we’re like cocaine for insects and we can’t go out in the car because it’s like driving a convection oven down the motorway, so what is left? Standing outside trying to surreptitiously peel clothing out of fat rolls and going ‘ooooh this is nice, bet it won’t last‘ like every other Brit? I don’t want to go outside. I want to stay inside where it is cold and air-conditioned and lovely and yeah I might get rickets but so fucking what, I’ll look bloody hilarious running for a bus. Beer gardens are full of boorish hooray-henries vaping and existing, public parks are awash with children screaming and laughing and even the cold, dark of the cinema is ruined by the kids being ‘on holiday’. Bah.

We need a decent plague and for him upstairs to turn the air-conditioning back on. By him upstairs I mean Paul, and, as we live in a bungalow, even that tortuous analogy doesn’t work. Let’s blame it on the heat.

Recipes then – summer salad with fried feta and a bonus recipe for a tomato consommé. I realised there was no point in sticking the tomato consommé on as an individual recipe because no bugger will make it, but hey, let’s roll the dice.

to make summer salad with fried feta you will need:

  • 250g reduced-fat feta cheese (4x HeA)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour (4 syns)
  • 4 tbsp panko (or any other type of breadcrumb, but panko works best) (4.5 syns)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • any sort of salad stuff you want to throw together
  • spray oil

Notes

You will need a fair few sprays of oil on this one – for each portion I’m going to say 10 sprays of a decent spray oil – so unusually, I’m counting the oil as an extra syn (5 sprays for 0.5 syns). It’s up to you, though. We use a spray oil dispenser from Amazon and top it up with decent quality olive oil – you can see the one we use right here (it’s dirt cheap). You could use Frylight but why would you – it’s shite. Plastic, nasty shite, plus it’ll mess your pans up. God knows why it is constantly recommended.

Those lovely looking pink onions? I’ve posted the recipe for them before right here (it’ll open in a new window) – they’re amazing. Soaked in vinegar, the sharpness melts away and they look amazing in a salad. Any time you have a red onion approaching the end of its life, follow this recipe!

Our salad consisted of a yellow pepper sliced and turned into matchsticks, moonblush tomatoes (made from our recipe here – we’re really using up the old favourites), a few black olives which I don’t syn so shoot me, peeled and sliced cucumber, rocket, sliced red onion and sliced pickled red onion. Make your salads interesting – it’ll serve you so much better – lots of flavour and textures.

to make summer salad with fried feta you should:

  • prepare the salad
  • cut the feta block into four equal pieces
  • dredge each block into the flour, then coat in the egg, and finally roll about in the breadcrumbs so it sticks (roll the feta, not yourself)
  • next, heat a small frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray some oil (save your pans and get yourself one of these)
  • whilst the feta is frying, gently spray a little more oil over the top so they brown when you flip them, which you’ll need to do do after about five minutes
  • when golden, serve on top of the salad so it’s just slightly soft in the middle

Delicious! Now onto the consommé – this is delicious but only if you’re a big tomato fan. I didn’t syn the drop of olive oil I used but up to you whether you include that! This is a clear(ish), pure tomato soup served cold. Very refreshing!

to make tomato and nasturtium consommé, you’ll need:

  • 2kg of tomatoes – red and ripe – soft is fine, we bought a giant box for a couple of quid from our local garden centre
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2tsp of tabasco
  • either a big handful of nasturtium flowers or, if you can’t get them (and you should bloody grow them because they’re amazing for you AND for the bees – they add pepperiness and you can eat both the flowers and the leaves), a big handful of basil
  • some decent salt flakes
  • a squirt of decent olive oil (optional)
  • a couple of pretty little tomatoes or nasturtiums and chopped chive

Notes:

This will serve four people a bloody big bowl of soup. It’s a faff timewise to make but worth it if you’re a fan of tomatoes and you want to try doing something different.

If you’re a vegetarian, remember to swap out the Worcestershire sauce for a veggie equivalent.

to make tomato and nasturtium consommé, you should:

  • chop the tomatoes into quarters, removing any particularly beefy stalks
  • tip the lot, together with the shallots, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and basil/nasturtium into a food processor and blitz it – you might need to do it in stages – season with salt and then blitz again – you do not want a smooth paste, you want it lumpy
  • now the tricky part – I found it so much easier to do this over the sink – put a large pan into the sink and then you’re going to want to take a large piece of muslin cloth and tip the tomato mixture in – tie the cloth up so the mixture can’t pour out of the sides and then find a way to suspend it over the pan so that the juices can drip through overnight (oh you flirt!) – I just tied my cloth to my tap which hangs over the sink
    • if you don’t have muslin cloth, use a very clean tea-towel – we’re not talking about the Congratulations Charles and Diana tea-towel that you wipe your minnie with when no-one is looking but a good fresh tea-towel – maybe use two – try not to get one that you’ve washed with fabric conditioner though eh, because the smell of Lenor is going to be off-putting
    • you can buy fine muslin cloth from amazon for a couple of quid – so much easier
  • the longer you leave it the better it will be, but DON’T SQUEEZE THE BAG otherwise your consommé will be cloudy (it’s natural for it to be a bit cloudy or yellow, but don’t make it worse)
  • in the morning, add a tiny dash of olive oil (1 tsp – 2 syns, up to you if you syn that tiny amount between 6) and gently simmer the liquid for about quarter of an hour – don’t boil it
  • season to taste with a bit of extra Tabasco sauce or salt if needed, then refrigerate until ready to serve
  • when serving, decorate with a few thin slices of the nice looking tomatoes or a couple of nasturtium flowers and chives and serve as cold as can be

Done! Enjoy! Want more veggie or lunch ideas? But of course you do. You know what to do by now!

lunchsmallpastasmallvegetariansmall   breakfastsmallsnackssmall dessertsmall

J

chicken and mushroom one-pot paella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See, brisk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look at them!

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

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

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

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

See? Look at my sad face.

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

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

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

Nah, I’m good thanks…


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

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

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

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

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

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

Canny right?

Hungry for more? You know what to do:

poultrysmall lunchsmallpastasmall   snackssmall soupsmalldrinkssmallonepot

Enjoy!

J

super quick and easy chicken saag aloo

Chicken saag aloo – we’re talking about a dish that takes about ten minutes to make from beginning to end, as long as you’ve got a hot pan and a filthy mouth. God knows that’s you lot covered. No time for shenanigans so let’s go straight to part five of our New York entry. Buckle up. I’d really welcome feedback on the holiday entries!

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

We decided to break with looking around the busy city and to take a nice walk along what is known as The High Line – a disused railway line that runs for a mile or so around Manhattan and affords lovely views of the Hudson and various arty-farty establishments to poke about it. We didn’t really have much of an excuse, it was only a ten-minute walk away from the hotel and boy did we need some ‘fresh air’. New York is amazing but you don’t realise how built-up it is until you look at your partner and he’s milk-white from lack of sunlight.

It was charming. I hate to use that word because it’s what pretentious knobheads use to describe tiny coffee places where they serve the coffee in a flat cap but I mean it. We went early enough so that it wasn’t completely awash with hipsters and pretty much had the place to ourselves, save for a few joggers. I was pleased to see that the ‘I’m about to cum’ face that British folk adopt when they run seems to have made it over the pond. Seriously, why pull that face? Running isn’t that exciting. At least, I can’t remember it being so – admittedly the last time I ran was back in 1997.

The High Line is full of little activities and things to do. We happened across a tiny park with stepping stones and tunnels to climb through, which then allowed you to pop your head up through the path to frighten passer-by’s. Great fun, until you realise that the tunnels probably weren’t designed to accommodate some twenty-stone Geordie with a fat arse and cheap jeans trying to turn around in there – it was like trying to turn a sofa around in a lift. I managed to get in alright but every time I moved backwards my coat scrunched up on top of me, stopping progress. It was only after my plaintive cries reached my dear husband – and in turn, once he had stopped laughing and taking pictures of my jammed arse – that he reached into the tunnel and pulled my coat free, allowing me to scuttle back out.

Later, Paul spotted a statue with the instruction ‘kiss to receive water’. Naturally, being Paul, he bent down and mimed performing cunnilingus on it so that I had a classy photo to put in the album. He was tutted at by someone who was more beard than man but hey, we have fun. We stopped at the end for a bagel and coffee and discussed where to go next, before deciding on the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Because we’re fat, we got a taxi. I’ve never heard my own feet say ‘phew’.

We arrived at the 9/11 Memorial Museum and were glad that the snaking queues we had witnessed a day or two before had dissipated and that actually, it wasn’t too busy.

It’s funny. We’ve all seen the footage on the TV or in print but until you’re there, it’s truly impossible to put it into perspective. To imagine the size of the buildings, the sheer amount of people caught up in it, the absolute terror that must have ensued. The museum itself was surprisingly sombre and tasteful – I admit I’d expect a certain amount of ‘America is Great’ bombast, but there was none. Just recollections, pieces of the building, subdued reconstructions and hushed tones.

One beautiful piece is a wall of almost 3,000 pieces of fabric paper painted in different shades of blue – it’s a tremendous sight with a sobering quote in the middle: ‘No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory Of Time’. Very true. Behind the wall is a room full of the unidentified remains of people caught up in the attacks, where they will lie forever until they are positively identified and taken by families, something which made even granite-faced me dab at my eyes. I’d encourage anyone visiting New York to have a look – it makes for a depressing hour but some things should never be forgotten. We moved on, and, because I want to change back to our normal tone of writing, let me draw a line under this.


Fancy! Next on our list was the Grand Central train station. You’ll have seen it before in so many movies – it’s a fabulous, colossal train station full of period detail and busy people. You may remember seeing it in such famous Lindsay Lohan movies such as ‘Just My Luck’, or infamous Lindsay Lohan movies such as ‘Yes, I’ll Let You Eight Guys Ride Me Like A Train for some meth’.

We decided to take a headphones audio tour of the station and do you know, it was one of the best things we did in New York. I know that sounds ridiculous but it was just the right mix of getting in people’s way, hearing interesting facts and having sights that you would never have known to look at pointed out to you. Case in point: the ceiling of the main concourse. Who ever looks up when they enter a train station? You should here – it’s a gorgeous astronomy map with glowing stars. That’s fascinating in and of itself, but see the ceiling was almost hidden from view by years of tobacco smoke and pollution. It took twelve years to clean it and restore it to its natural beauty, with one tiny square left to show the difference.

I made a mental note to contact Paul’s mother on my return to see if she wanted to hire the same cleaners to try and get the fifty-eight years of Samson roll-up smoke peeled from her ceiling (it’d be like using a spatula to clean the grill pan), but then promptly forgot about it when our audio tour guided us to the whispering walls.

Seriously, what fun. Under the main concourse is a dining area and part of that, near the Oyster bar, is the Whispering Wall. Due to the way the tunnel is built, sound whispered in one corner of the giant room travels all along the arch and can be heard a good ten metres away across the room. It’s a bloody weird effect.

Naturally, I stood in one corner and sent Paul to where I thought the whisper could be heard across the tunnel. Well, look, I can only apologise to the little Chinese lady who was very startled to have the ghost of a Geordie whisper the word c*nt in her ear from apparently nowhere. Turns out Paul was standing in the wrong place. In my defence, it was hilarious. We sharp moved on.

By some amazing coincidence our audio tour ended with us being taken into the gift-shop. Fancy! We were taken by all the lovely cartographic items and ended up buying six metal subway signs to sit above the doors of our house. Which, yes, sounds shit, but trust me when I say it looks good. It adds that New York sophistication to stumbling to the shitter to drop the kids off at night, trust me.

Next on the list of things to do was lunch, and, I’m ashamed to say this, we ate in a TGI Fridays. All those wonderful places and we ended up somewhere where a chav takes a hot-date in the hope of getting his fingers dipped. In our defence, it was the one in Times Square and we only went there because at this point, our feet were more blood than shoe, but it was grim. Because they don’t have to try, they absolutely didn’t. The food was bland, the drinks were sickly sweet and the waiter so full of false bonhomie that I could have asked for a blowjob instead of a dessert menu and he’d have sunk to his knees just to see me smile. His name tag was ‘Will!’, which I imagine took immense willpower (pun intended) not to put eight exclamations after.

We did leave a substantial tip though – the place was awash with British families taking a break between smacking their children and complaining to eat something similar to the Iceland muck they have at home. Past experience tells me that they won’t leave a tip because ‘it’s not right, we don’t have to do it, blah blah’ and frankly, that’s just shitty. Our lunch might have been shite but see, that wasn’t the fault of Smilin’ Will.

After lunch we waddled over to the Rockefeller Centre. You’ll know this place, too – it’s where they put the massive Christmas tree and ice-rink every year. We had paid for a day and night pass, which allows you to see the views during the day and then return later to see the same view but in inky blackness.

It was wonderful – there’s only so many times I can write about going up a tall building and making it faintly interesting for you, dear reader, so just let me say that being able to sit on a bench 70 floors in the air in the winter, looking out over New York, was just lovely. We had a romantic moment (which makes it sound like I noshed Paul off, but no, we just had a cuddle) and stayed up there a while.

As we left we were shepherded through a room of interactive lights – if you stood on the floor, certain ceiling lights would come on and your movement would be tracked. I suppose this is modern art. Paul exclaimed that it was ‘just like I’m in a video game’ and my reply of ‘Yes: FATRIS’ was a little louder than I had anticipated, leading to lots of shared guffaws amongst everyone. I do worry that I come across as such an arse to poor, put-upon Paul, but listen, he gives as good as he gets, don’t you worry.

Having satisfied ourselves of the view and done about as much marvelling as one can do before your face caves in through smiling, we made our way back through the building and back out onto the streets. After a little idle wandering we spotted a nearby church, and, never missing the opportunity to sit down and let my chafing thighs cool, we went in. If memory serves me right, it was St Mary the Virgin’s church and it was utterly beautiful.

Unusually, we didn’t burst into flames the second we stepped over the threshold and nor were we cast out for being sodomites. Religion, am I right? The church was gorgeous – beautiful stained glass windows, comfortable pews, perfectly ornate detailing, just lovely. It was heart-warming to know that the donations and money raised was going straight into keeping this prime piece of real-estate looking pretty so that all the homeless folk outside could at least have somewhere charming to rest their heads between starving and freezing to death. Hmm.

We sat in the pews for more time than is entirely decent, trying to discreetly rub our throbbing feet and not shallow-breathe on the necks of the people in front, who were bowed in prayer. I’m not a religious person but even I said a quick prayer for one of those feet-spas that all mums had in the Nineties that bubbled a bit of Radoxy-water around their hairy toes.

The serenity of the moment was shattered somewhat by the sound of a clearly mentally-ill woman bursting through the doors, running down the aisle screaming and then falling on the floor.  She was treated with all the compassion and understanding you might expect from the Church – pinned to the floor by the security guard’s knee, shouted at by some hurly-burly prick clutching a bible and then unceremoniously picked up and thrown back out into the street like a piece of rubbish. It was all very inelegant, though it did cause enough of a distraction for me to break wind, which, with my cheeks firmly pressed against the wood of the pew, sounded like a little helicopter landing. Sweet relief! Air befouled, we moved on.

Unfortunately, my notes for the day end here, which leads me to think we just went and got progressively more drunk during the rest of the day and then stumbled back to the hotel at some indecent hour. I have a faint recollection of being in a late-night pharmacy buying Doritos and spinach dip. Hey, we know how to party! We definitely ticked off the ‘buy a slice of New York pizza’ activity though, and I know this because there’s a photo on my phone of Paul fast asleep with a chunk of crust sticking out of his gob. We’re a classy pair, you know.


Right, let’s do the chicken saag aloo! You can cheerfully leave out the chicken and make this into a veggie dish. Why not? You’re the boss! This makes enough for two big bowls. Why chicken saag aloo? Simple. You may remember dear El Ehma from my work? She’s never cooked a meal that didn’t have freezer burn, but she’s really taken to saag aloo. I promised to make a version that she can follow and well, Joe Wicks has a recipe ready! You remember me mentioning Joe Wicks and the fact that we’ve found a whole load of recipes in his book that are perfect for Slimming World? Well we did, and you can buy it here. You can buy his book here and it is one I genuinely recommend.

chicken saag aloo

to make super quick and easy chicken saag aloo, you’ll need:

  • 700g new potatoes
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a little knob of ginger, haha
  • 2 tbsp of garam masala
  • two large chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 big handfuls of spinach leaves
  • squeeze of lemon juice

For the ginger and garlic, grate them finely using a microplane grater. It’s the one gadget we use all the time – you can use it for parmesan, peppers, garlic, ginger, lemon…all sorts! Click here and save!

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

to make super quick and easy chicken saag aloo, you should:

  • cut the potatoes in half, pop them in a microwave dish and cook them for three minutes – then let them rest – and cook again for three minutes – drain and set aside
  • thinly slice your spring onions and cook them off gently in a few spritzes of olive oil
  • once they’re softened, add the ginger and garlic until golden
  • add the potatoes
  • add the garam masala
  • stir everything then add the thinly sliced chicken breasts with a few splashes of water and cook everything through, with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • cook hard and quickly until the chicken is cooked through then add the spinach and allow to wilt down
  • serve with a squeeze of lemon

Easy!

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J

chicken saltimbocca skewers with wedges, because we’re fancy

Chicken saltimbocca? Aside from the fact that saltimbocca sounds like something you’d contract from a £5-a-shot prostitute, what on earth is it? I’ll let the recipe speak for itself, save to tell you now that it’s quick, easy and tasty. Like me. Plus, saltimbocca means ‘jump in my mouth’, so it fits even more, doesn’t it? The gags write themselves.

Which is lucky, actually, as we’re still recovering from an AWFUL holiday last week.  I’ve typed out the majority of my notes so I reckon I’ll post it on Friday, but sweet jesus. It was a coach trip, yes, but it was like being in the Jeremy Kyle audience, eye-watering Joop fumes included. I thought the bus would be full of the lovely elderly, like this (I’ve lightly photoshopped it just to bring the colour out):

Sadly, I was wrong. You’ll find out more in due course.

In the meantime, we have a guest writer who not only typed us up a blog entry but also, gasp, has done us a recipe too! I like this, it means I have more time to sit trying to reach my toenails with the clippers and breathing heavily into a sofa cushion. I won’t give his name but he’s giving us an inside look into a dangerous, cruel world…over to the third chubby cub! I’ve given him a subtle pseudonym.


baby it’s cold inside by Barry Big Knob

Chubby Cubs are just like fidget spinners. We’re eeevverrywheeeeere! I’m a chubby cub from Bolton where I live with a cub of my own too, (yes, we too dance at the other end of the proverbial ballroom), so when the cubs asked me if I’d like to share a recipe on their blog, I couldn’t resist. Hirsuite Solidarity and all that.

But first I should mention that I work for the big boys themselves… Iceland! Yeeeees, the very purveyors of Slimming World Sausages and Kerry Katona’s Punched Lasagnes of yesteryear (Prawn ring anyone?). As Iceland exclusively stock the Slimming World range, you can imagine we get the entire spectrum of Slimming World…participants (including the two of us, so I’m allowed to judge!)

The funny thing is that the most popularly sold items in the same shop with people who buy the Slimming World range? Greggs Sausage Rolls. I love going to the Greggs freezer cabinets, or the dessert and pizza cabinets and finding discarded boxes of Slimming World Sweet Potato Curry where people have had their “you know what? Fuck it!” moments and chosen to instead have a threeway with Dr Oetker and Aunt Bessie (whilst Mr Kipling waits for sloppy seconds, the dirty bastard).

But some of these folks that come in? Yes, you get the charming posh types in their twinsets who have come to investigate peasant food whilst looking for cheap prosecco, “I’ve never been to an Ice Land before, I must tell my friends Flossy and Cyprian. Oh golly, I wonder if they’ll think I mean the country! Arf arf arf!”, to the stereotypes you know we all imagine, Wayne and Waynetta Slob, waddling down the aisles like It’s A Knockout costumes. I am telling no lie when I say that I once heard someone shout to their son, “Yer not having sweets, Lambrini!”. The class. It oozes. It gurgles. It sticks to the bottom of your shoes.

But I also love seeing the people who come in with proper weight loss success stories, and if it’s via Slimming World, I can’t help but wax lyrical a bit, but also recommend they check out Two Chubby Cubs for some great recipes and a good laugh. Speaking of which, I was meant to be writing up a recipe here wasn’t I? Here goes then!


Er, oy, calm your tits. We can’t go straight to the recipe, I need to add my summing up paragraph first! Tsk. He’ll learn, we’ll belt it into him. I don’t mind Iceland myself – their ability to stuff absolutely any sort of filling into any sort of crevice leaves me breathless. However, our local Iceland happens to be in the same area as our local riot-ready zone, and taking a trip ranks slightly lower than cartwheeling across an active volcano. Marginally more sulphurous gas, mind. I typed an article out when Slimming World launched their ready meals and everyone lost their mind – I remember someone saying she wished another shopper was dead for having the temerity to buy more than three bags of sausages. It’s all calmed down now, though whenever something new gets launched it causes a bit of frothing at the minnie. God knows why – I love Slimming World but I’m try anything remotely close to palatable from their range. Adding eight tonnes of pepper to one chicken breast does not make a tasty dish.

But SPEAKING OF A TASTY DISH, let’s get back to the saltimboccas!

to make chicken saltimbocca skewers, you’ll need:

  • a wee bit of olive oil (you can use Frylight if you’re not a sinner)
  • four skinless chicken breasts
  • tomato purée (5 tablespoons)
  • worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons)
  • bacon medallions (12)
  • sage leaves (12… but this is optional)

You’ll also need some metal skewers – something like this? Cheap as chips.

Oh and sorry to do a double advert…but all of our Musclefood hampers have tonnes of chicken and bacon 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.

to make chicken saltimbocca skewers, you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees if it’s a fan oven, look it up on google if it isn’t
  • put the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of cling film and pound the living hell out of them with a rolling pin until they are wider and thinner
  • mix the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce and spread 1 tbsp. of the mixture over the top of each chicken breast, reserving the remaining mixture
  • cover each breast with 3 bacon medallions, lay 3 sage leaves on top of each breast (if you’re doing the sage bit) and season with pepper
  • roll up each piece of chicken and using a large knife, cut into bite-sized rolls, and thread the rolls onto 4 skewers
  • place the skewers on a grill pan, brush with the reserved purée mixture and put in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them over after 10, until the skewers are golden and the chicken is cooked through

Et voila! Bit of faffing about but pretty bloody tasty. Serve with some decorative salad and wedges.

to make wedges you should:

Just make some. Seriously, they’re just potato wedges.

They’re totally syn free, and would probably work well on a barbecue too. Serves 4 technically, but 2 if you’re hungry! Also if you’re making them for friends, mistakenly call them Chicken Saltybollocks before comically correcting yourself. They’ll think you’re a regular Frank Carson.

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Remember, if you want to contribute an article or a recipe, get in touch – leave a comment or message us via our facebook page: www.facebook.com/twochubbycubs 

J

roasted grapes and goats cheese stuffed sweet potatoes

Are you silently heaving into your gunt about the thought of these roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes? Listen, they’re delicious. Sweet, yes, of course, but they make for a lovely side dish. In America they make a weird casserole of sweet potato and marshmallows, and that’s a step too far, but we’re all about something different remember – if you always stick to the same dishes then what is life for? The recipe follows below, but first, through a bit of a haze of self-prescribed pain relief (more on that tomorrow), let us reflect for a moment.

You know who I never talk about on here? My sister. Yes, I do have one, but she’d take my face off if I revealed her to the world. But it’s her birthday and so I’ve been thinking about her today. She could not be more of my opposite, as a thin, pretty, tiny, blonde girl. When we stand together now for family photos it looks like Robbie Coltrane holding hands with Polly Pocket. But, in the rare spells where she wasn’t:

  • rifling through every conceivable hiding place in my room to find anything illicit;
  • stealing money from the massive whisky jar where my mother put her coppers;
  • setting things on fire;
  • throwing a video box-set off my mum’s head;
  • sending fake letters from the school in order to get money to nick off to London to see Madonna in concert;
  • covering each square inch of her carpet in detritus and Culture Club memorabilia;

she was actually quite darling.

Memories? I know that these posts always descend into some weird Catherine Cookson-esque writing where we scrabbled together potatoes from the field and all shared one shirt, but indulge me for a bit. We didn’t have a great lot growing up and the village where we spent our formative years was about as exciting as having a tooth pulled. Remember Horsley? The village of less than 200 where you could buy a kitchen from a kitchen outlet centre but a pint of milk was beyond the wit of man? Where the one time I added a bit of masking tape to our village sign to change it to HORSEEY it was deemed such an outrage that it made page two of the Hexham Courant? And don’t forget when I edited the Wikipedia page for the village, said Tosh Lines from The Bill was living in the woods and shouting at the clouds, only to make the Hexham Courant again and be described as an Internet Vandal? Pfft. Well, we weren’t exactly spoiled for thrills and excitement.

Memories then. I remember making a go-kart with her, but whereas other kids had lovely fancy things, we tied a plank of wood to our skateboard, upon which we sat either side and set away down the steepest bank away from the village, the road to Horsley Cottages. Problem was my sister weighed the same as a mouse’s fart and I was a ten-tonne-tessie, meaning we had to adjust it so there was about half an inch of wood for my sister to sit on and I was six foot away from the skateboard ploughing through the hedgerow, coming out looking like Carrie after a particularly nasty fight with a blackberry bush. By god though we’d pick up some speed, flying down that road in the care-free, danger-be-damned way of children, completely unable to brake. I remember rocketing around a corner only to find a Northumbrian Water lorry coming straight towards us on this single-lane road, requiring me to lean heavily to one side and pitch us into a stone wall. How my mum laughed as she picked gravel out of our face.

What else? We were certainly quite entrepreneurial. We had two businesses. In the summer we’d go around everyone’s gardens picking all of their soft fruit, then wander about selling it back to the neighbours. It was quite the racket – we’d steal gooseberries out of Nancy’s garden only to sell them to Elsie in exchange for the chance to nick her raspberries, then the raspberries would be traded for apples, then the apples would be stotted off the roof of the old lady we used to dislike tremendously because she’d stop us playing in the phone box. We weren’t exactly Jane and Michael Banks, you understand. Our fruit picking landed us enough for a sweet weekend in Largs, playing the bandits whilst my parents worked keenly on their smoking.

We also ran – with staff, mind you, made up of the other urchins and ruffians of the village (we were one step down from The Mandelbaum Gang) –  a proper little ‘odd jobs’ company. We would wash cars, weed gardens, mow the grass, and reap the rewards. I say rewards, all the old biddies were notoriously tight with their money, but hell there wasn’t much to spend the money on so we made do. We did spend two hours washing and waxing some bewhiskered old dolt’s car only for her to press 50p into my hand to share amongst four. Pfft. We returned in the dead of night and covered her car in mud. Yes, I know, we should have been taken in hand, but still. We also stuck a potato in the exhaust of the vicar which launched itself off with an almighty bang, causing a very unsaintly curseword to bellow from his lips. I dobbed him into Jesus next time I was forced to pray.

However, and this is awful, our most lucrative gig came in the form of Mr Tines. We were asked to clean his house – and mind you, we did, despite it being filthy – and keep him company. Not in any especially creepy fashion, I hasten to add, although we did once turn his stairlift off for twenty minutes because we thought he was coming to kerdiddle us. WE WERE KIDS I STRESS. He asked us to try and wallpaper his bathroom. We were thirteen and fourteen respectively. The whole place ended up looking like a tidal wave of Solvite has washed through. My parents had to come down and put it right, oops. But this guy used to give us lots of pound coins as payment and boy, did we think we were well off. Even more so when we discovered he inexplicably had a stack of easily 500 ‘Explorer’ tickets, which allowed you to travel anywhere within the North East. He never left the house and was more than happy to gift them to us, albeit we used to take five for every one offered, and collectively the village children went all over Northumberland – it was fantastic! They didn’t expire, either, meaning we had unlimited travel for a good two years.We’d tell our parents we were playing in the woods when we’d actually be in Carlisle or at Newcastle Airport. Me and my then beau, Big Lee, must have had awkward teenage sex within 200 yards of every station on the Metro line. I saw him the other day from afar, and he’s skeletal to the point where he looks like a haunted hair comb. Clearly I’ve spoiled him for all men. I wanted to rush over, sweep him into my arms and tell him ‘BUT LEE, WE WILL ALWAYS HAVE OUR SUMMER IN SHIREMOOR’ but well, the time has gone.

As an aside, Mr Tines also used to have the most amazing, random nonsense stuffed into his cupboards. Case in point: we found a tiny fitness trampoline in the coal bunker which was immedately deployed into the back yard. My sister jumped on, took one bounce and pitched herself smartly over the wall, into the road, onto her face. Oops.

Summers passed in a blur of bike rides, fighting and Dr Pepper. Can you imagine children who were so delighted by finding Dr Pepper? And secret smoking – I don’t think there was a piece of furniture in our house that didn’t have cigarettes secreted behind them. Our childhood house has long since been sold, but I do wonder what the new owners thought when they eventually got round to dusting the tops of the door-frames and five nine-year-old Lambert and Butlers came tumbling down. Let’s not forget the time she ran away from home in a squall of teenage fury: she, rather cleverly, didn’t run away at all, just hid in the false ceiling of our washhouse like she was Anne Frank. There was plenty of food and drink in there and who would think to look amongst the suitcases? She came down three days later and even my mother couldn’t hide the relief that she hadn’t hitchhiked to London to make a name for herself. She certainly did better than I did when I ran away – I left a carefully annotated map with a set of ‘directions’ on my bedside table and I think my parents picked me up three miles down the road, where I’d stopped because my ankles were swelling.

Happy times. As usual, I’ve painted a bleak picture of some dire childhood filled with impecuniosity and petty crime, which means I’ll get an angry text from my mother later (I get them for two reasons: if I use the Big C on the blog or if I make out like she was Fagin) – but actually, nothing could be further from the truth. My childhood was full of laughter and love, and my sister was responsible for at least a quarter of that.

That is, when she wasn’t turning her eyelids inside out and licking the undergunk to make me vomit.

Ah what a time to link to the recipe!

to make roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes you will need:

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 200g seedless black grapes
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 80g soft goats cheese (2x HeA)

Slimming World tell you you really ought to syn the grapes if you’re cooking them. If you think you should syn a handful of grapes because you’ve introduced them to some heat, then by all means do. 3 syns per 100g. But, if you choose this, you won’t impress our KERRUH:

to make roasted grape and goat cheese stuffed sweet potatoes you should:

  • preheat the oven to 175°c
  • stab the potatoes with a fork and wrap tightly in tin foil
  • bake for between 45 minutes to an hour, until soft when you poke it
  • remove from the oven, cut a gash down the middle and allow to cool for a bit
  • meanwhile, whack the oven up to 230°c
  • spread the grapes out over a non-stick baking sheet and spray with a bit of oil (don’t let Frylight knacker your pans, get this instead!), roll them about a bit to help coat them a bit and them spread them out again
  • roast for about 25 minutes, or until they start to burst
  • remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • scoop out the flesh of the potatoes, taking care to keep the skin intact and place in a bowl
  • mash together the potato flesh, salt, pepper and most of the goats cheese, reserving some to dot on the top
  • spoon back into the potato skins
  • top with the roasted grapes
  • place back in the oven to warm through if needed

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J

asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata

Hey there! After yesterday’s overnight oats recipe, we’re mixing it up a little and going for a lunch idea! A frittattatatatatataaatataatata. Or however it is meant to be spelled. A frittata is an excellent Slimming World lunch idea because a) you can hoy any old shite into it and b) as long as that any old shite doesn’t contain Wispa bars and bottles of Becks, it’ll probably be syn free. Plus it’ll keep in the fridge until time immemorial and depending how fancy you want to be, doesn’t cost that much to make! WINNER.

I have a favour to ask: if you enjoy tonight’s entry, please share it! Or leave some feedback. Make me happy.

So my recipe for asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata will follow, but first, remember how I said I was doing short posts for the week and a long post on the weekend? Well, I’m true to my word. Here’s the long one. Just relax, take it easy – push out a bit, grit your teeth, bite the pillow – it’ll make it so much easier for you. Let me take you to the third and final part of our caravan holiday. Parts one and two are linked below. I’ve even set them to open in a new window for your viewing pleasure…

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! 

click here for part one | click here for part two

We were just drifting off to the land of nod when suddenly: sex noises. Worse: unexpected sex noises that were not our own. From a nearby caravan, echoing from their open window into our dreams.

You’ve never lived until you’ve tried to doze off to the sounds of a long-married couple having the most perfunctory sex you’ve ever heard echoing around a tiny caravan bedroom. They must have left their window open (presumably because it was such a hot-bed of sin in there) and so we were treated to him grunting like a stuck pig and her saying ‘yeah’ and ‘oooh’ in the same disinterested manner as someone choosing a wedding toaster from the Argos catalogue. Thankfully the eighteen pints of Stella sloshing in his belly didn’t put him off and he came to a thundering climax in no time at all, complete with loud feverish gasps and cries to a point where I nearly threw on my slacks and rushed out shouting ‘I’M DEFIBRILLATOR TRAINED! SHAVE HIS CHEST!’. Thankfully he was too much of a gentleman to worry about her satisfaction and his snoring, together with what sounded like an electric toothbrush playing a tennis racket, soon wafted into our bedroom. I rolled over, put Brain of Britain on, and we wandered off to sleep.

Only to be rudely awoken with Round 2 forty minutes later. Clearly there has been a buy one get one free on Viagra down at the social cluuuurb because, god save us, he was going for a silver medal. This time the whole experience so much longer, presumably because the pipes had recently been cleaned, and even though we shut the window, we could still hear squelch and creak. It sounded like two people carrying a sofa up a tight flight of stairs. If that’s what straight sex sounds like, I’ll stick with the cock, thank you. You tend to know where you are with a cock. Anyway, this time, when he shot his bolt, we both gave him a cheery round of applause – then hid under our duvet in case he came to our window. Poor lamb must have had jelly legs though because he stayed put. Thankfully that was it for the night and indeed, the weekend.

We awoke fresh-faced the next morning and, faced with eight years on the game just to pay for a box of off-brand cornflakes and a pint of on-the-turn-milk from the on-site shop, we decided to go out for breakfast. A quick neb on Tripadvisor revealed The Riverside Cafe as the place to be so we hopped into town, parked up on the wrong side of the river and waddled our way down. We took barely any photos on this holiday but if I show you this one, it’ll sum up ‘British seaside’ perfectly for you.

Have you ever seen a more depressed seagull? Well…

WAKE ME UP INSIDE SAAAAAAAVE ME

When we arrived at the cafe it was completely full. Paul dissolved into floods of tears and I bravely asked if we could reserve a table. They advised us to nip back in about half an hour, leaving us to stumble around the nearby docks for thirty minutes. That was Paul’s suggestion – I wanted to press my watery-eyed face up against the window, wailing in anguish, until a table was cleared out of sheer discomfort. We returned 10 minutes later than planned because we thought it would look unseemly and too keen to turn up on time – I didn’t want all the customers thinking that we were so fat and greedy that we couldn’t wait. We were then faced with the next dilemma: as two confirmed fatties we were clearly in need of the biggest fry-up option but we didn’t want to drown in tuts so we had to go for the middle breakfast, which was still enough to fell a horse. It was delicious. I love a fry-up but people can get it so wrong – I once received a fry-up with friggin’ spinach on it. Why? Who thinks ‘yes, I want crippling chest pains and iron’ when they order breakfast? Don’t worry, I hurled it off the wall and stomped out. I can heartily recommend The Riverside Cafe though – lovely staff too!

Bellies full, we gasped, wheezed and cardiac-arrested our way back to the car and decided on a jaunt over the causeway to Holy Island to start the day. A quick glance at the tide timetable clarified that we wouldn’t be swept away to Norway and so we were set. You’d be amazed how many cars ignore the fact that THE FUCKING NORTH SEA SWALLOWS THE ROAD UP twice a day. We’re not talking about driving through a puddle that you can drive through like a twat! Yet we see loads of the buggers on the news, always in massive twatmobiles, bobbing around in the water with the good folks of the RNLI rescuing them. I think that’s the wrong approach. If I was in charge, I’d knock down the emergency refuge tower, then whenever some dickhead in an oversized Audi got stuck, I’d send someone out in the boat to put their windows through with a hammer and drown the arseholes for their own stupidity. I’m sorry, but I think that’s a perfectly rational response. I’d play Nearer My God To Thee over the boat’s PA system as they sank beneath the waves blubbing mindlessly about their children.

We, not being mouthbreathing numbskulls, made it over safely and parked up. We are members of the National Trust (you may recall Paul is a Rear Admiral and I am a Doctor when it comes to the National Trust, which makes small-talk super awkward when they comment on it as they check our passes) and so parking was free. Which was great, because the bloody castle was completely closed. Oh and the rain. I’d have been drier if we had got stuck on the bloody causeway. We wandered a bit around the little village but it was just so relentlessly miserable that we didn’t stay. We tried – we paid a few quid for a look around the Lindisfarne museum which was full of helpful staff and dated displays, though we were glad to have a bit of a nana-nap in the tiny cinema. We nipped into the nearby shop to buy some mead but after tasting it and realising I’d sooner drink battery acid, we bought an overpriced bottle of gin and made for the car. On a sunny day Holy Island is tremendous and there’s some beautiful walks and views to be afforded, but today was not that day.

After a quick reconnoitre of our available options in the local area we decided to make for a nearby honey farm, thinking at least we’d be able to get ourselves a scone and make the best of a bad day. We struggled to find the place, taking a brief but arresting diversion into a farmer’s field, but soon the big double-decker that serves as their cafe loomed into view. Hooray, but no, the place was closed for the season, despite showing as being open on Tripadvisor. Ah well. These things happen. We spotted something called Conundrum Farm which had a petting zoo and if there’s one thing I like doing on a caravan holiday, it’s handling a snake until it spits in my eye. The farm was aptly named – we went to the address on the website only to end up in the middle of nowhere, Scotland, gazing at a muddy field. We changed tack (because what fools we were for believing a website) and navigated using Google, who took us to an industrial estate. Truly, we were seeing the best of Berwick. Remembering that I’d seen a sign for a village called Conundrum when driving up to Edinburgh, we doubled down and went back over the border, followed the signs…and it was shut.

No mention of that on their website, either.

You can imagine, can’t you, how thrilled I was by this whole day, spent driving aimlessly through brown countryside in the pissing rain to visit a collection of closed signs because no-one could be arsed updating their websites? There’s so many comments about Conundrum Farm being ‘hard to find’ on Tripadvisor and yet, here we were – why not, oh I don’t know, put up a SIGN? Some directions on the website? Hell I’d settle for chalk arrows on tiles like Sarah had in Labyrinth if it meant not fucking about in a Smart car on the borders. BAH. We cycled through the rest of the options available only to find everything closed for the season, not open on a weekend or condemned. Clearly it was beyond the wit of man for local businesses to sync up with the first week of the season at the caravan park, eh?

I wish I could tell you we managed to fill the rest of the two days with jolly-hockey-stick activities, long rambles by the sea and urgent outdoor sex, but the first two eluded us and we were asked to stop the third because we were putting people off their fish and chips. We spent it for the most part curled up inside the very comfortable caravan watching Come Dine with Me and spilling dip on the carpet. Our evenings were spent watching Vera-like-Pet and drinking overpriced booze in the bar.

The only other notable moment was on the last night we decided to have another crack at the prize bingo. This time I confess to being rather tanked up on Stella and was far more into it than last time. You could have cut the tension with a knife, not least because I reckon about 60% of the blokes were probably carrying them. And 80% of the women – they were picking their tooth with them. Yes, deliberate.

The prize – a little better this time given we were playing for money – was in sight, but some fucker called house with me only needing one more number. My reaction was typical of my subtle, respectful nature – I shouted bastard out loud (the kids weren’t allowed inside). Ooops. Someone who looked about twelve and had less hair on his upper lip than I do on my big toe told me to ‘show some respect’ or he’d have me removed. I’ve never felt so admonished in all of my life. Was Bingo Fever catching and had it truly got a hold on me? Am I going to become one of those folks you see standing outside of Mecca Bingo in the pissing rain, trying to light a car-boot Superkings against the wind and putting far too much bronzer onto my crinkle-cut face? Paul removed me from the building before I had a chance to contemplate getting one of those clown-pendant necklaces and filling out a giro form.

We went back to the caravan and sobered up by having a tiny shower and a tiny poo in the tiny toilet. Living like queens! The night flew by in a blur of my frozen feet, thankfully no sex noises but plenty of moaning and groaning from Paul who was too hot, too cold, too boxed in, too far away, too fast, too furious, blah blah. I put my headphones in and stopped paying attention. We drove back the next morning and that was the caravan holiday done.

You know what? I bloody loved it. Even though literally nothing happened, literally, yeah, literally, it was a fun, relaxing weekend break. Yes, the park was super expensive for everything when you’re there but hey, there was a Tesco only fifteen minutes away, we were just too lazy to bother going. They nickel-and-dime you on everything but then, if you’re only paying £9.50 for a night, can you really complain? The caravan was spotlessly clean and very nicely put together and it destroyed my snobby preconceptions of caravan living, which was everything would smell of foist, other people’s jizz and chip-fat. No, I couldn’t smell any chip fat. Yes, there were plenty of your ‘stereotypical’ Sun readers wandering around and I did at times fear for my life but for the most part, it was lovely. There’s something just so romantic about trying desperately to scrub taramasalata out of a cream carpet on a rainy Sunday evening.

Would I go again? No, not to the same park, because why shit in the same toilet twice? I know, I paint such a pretty picture with my words. But the park itself, from the facilities to every single member of staff I met, was charming. Berwick was about as exciting as listening to the dial tone but hey, it’s a coastal town, not Benidorm. Thank god. Because can you imagine us two in Benidorm? Funny you should say that…

All done!


Let’s get to the asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata, shall we? Now look here. If you don’t like goat cheese, don’t use it. Not a fan of asparagus and the resultant piss that smells like something has died in your bladder? Understandable. Bacon get right on your boobs? Of course. Just swap them out for whatever you want. That’s the joy here – you can use anything! You will, however, need an oven-proof pan if you have one, it’ll just make life easier.

This made enough for 8 large slices. Oh and the ingredients are very fast and loose – feel free to change the quantities.asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata

asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata

to make an asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata, you’ll need:

  • about 500g of small new potatoes, cut into little cubes – not an exact science, you’re not making a Lego set, calm your tits
  • roughly 250g of asparagus – chopped into 1cm chunks – we had fancy black asparagus from Tesco because we’re just so damned fine
  • two large red onions, chopped finely
  • a few rashers of bacon, or chopped ham if you prefer, grilled off and diced up
  • 40g of soft goat cheese (1 x HEA)
  • 40g of lighter mature cheese (1 x HEA)
  • 7 or 8 eggs

Looking for a decent frying pan but not super expensive? A pan like this will serve you well!

to make an asparagus, goat cheese and bacon frittata, you should:

  • boil your cubes of potato and asparagus for about five minutes, just to take the bite off
  • meanwhile, fry off your onion and cooked bacon in a few sprays of olive oil until softened
  • pop the bacon, onion, asparagus and potato in a bowl with the goat cheese cut up into chunks
  • beat the eggs together with a good pinch of salt and black pepper and about half the grated cheese –
  • mix in with everything else, give it a good stir, then slop it all into the pan, sprinkling the rest of the cheese on top
  • you want to cook it for about 10 minutes or so on a medium heat just so the egg starts to firm up
  • whack it under the grill for about five to ten minutes – keep an eye on it, you want it to firm up, you’re not cremating the bugger
  • allow to cool, slice, and enjoy!

Eee I know, we do spoil you. Want yet more recipes? MORE?

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Enjoy!

J