double-dip special: baba ganoush and minty beetroot raita

Raita? I barely knew ‘er! Oh I know, but listen, it’s been so long. Forgive a fat man his nonsense. Here for the two dips? Quite rightly, they’re stunning. A big complaint of Slimming World is that it’s hard to find a decent dip or snack – now that we’ve discovered Broghies we’re snacking for England. The recipes are right down below the holiday entry but, as I’m feeling generous, if you want the food with none of my nonsense, just click the shortcut button below. Yes: just click on the SCALY OLD TROUT and you’re good to go.

Thank god they’ve left. All fur coat and no knickers, that one. For the rest of you, take my sweaty hand and we’ll skip back to Benidorm…

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

Not doing well with this ‘just the important bits’, am I? Ah well. We walked along the seafront and despaired at the sight of so many bright blue sun-loungers with bright pink English folk perched on them, merrily burning away. You couldn’t have set down a handkerchief amongst the people, let alone a beach towel, and oh god, the noise. It’s a bad job when you can’t hear the crashing sea over the sound of 5,000 disparate accents all bellowing at their triple-named snaggletoothed crotch-fruit to GET OUTTA FAAAACKIN’ SUN. It would be more relaxing trying to sunbathe on the wing of a crashing jumbo jet. We moved on.

I felt like James Cook gazing upon the unspoilt sands of Australia.

Eventually we reached what I think was the Old Town – lots of quaint streets to tumble about in, some interesting shops, some reasonable places to eat. We did spend a pleasant couple of hours here, not quite managing to fall in love enough to spend any money, when we decided to go for tapas. We’d have a couple of places recommended so off we trotted.

The first place we chose was charming on the outside. We were promptly seated by a pleasant looking waiter who was the double of Super Mario and had the water poured and the bread basket on the table before I’d even had a chance to look at the menu, tuck the tablecloth into my trousers and scatter the salt around. When the menu did arrive we were aghast. Now, before you all think we’re uncultured swines who don’t try local food or unusual tastes, just google what a rimjob is and come back to me. However, this menu was full of all sorts of horrendous sounding dishes, all of which sounded like the outcome of blending the Saw franchise with Watership Down. So many severed bits of animal served up like the top prize on Bullseye. Paul actually turned green, which at least made for a pleasant contrast against his reddened neck. We had to think fast (well, one of us certainly did – I’m not saying Paul’s slow but in his mind he was still coming through passport control back at the airport) so I told Paul to start fanning his face theatrically as if to feign feeling faint.

Of course, he goes full ham, giving it his all, rolling his eyes in his head, slack jaw opened, wafting his face with the menu, looking all the while like a Victorian maid who has stumbled across a passionate bout of illicit sex. If we’d had a few minutes more I’m sure he’d have slumped to the floor with a collapsed lung and started frothing at the mouth. I kicked him under the table to calm himself down when the waiter came back for our order. Me, in a language closer to Gujarati than A-level Spanish, explained that my partner was feeling unwell and we’d need to move on. The waiter, to his credit and my shame, couldn’t have been lovelier, his big brown eyes full of concern. I slipped him a ten euro note to pay for the water and we sloped off, Paul inexplicably limping. I told him round the corner that I was aiming for dicky-belly as opposed to a full debilitating haemorrhagic stroke.

Now, what to do? We were still hungry – this wouldn’t normally have been a problem but the second place on our list was nearby – literally over the other side of the wee square the first restaurant was one. We’d been told by all and sundry that this was the place to get heavenly tapas, couldn’t miss it, best in the country, blah blah blah. Being easily led, we had to go there, which immediately set us off on a game of having to sneak into another restaurant without the kind-eyed waiter from the previous debacle seeing us and knowing Paul’s illness was a sham. I couldn’t bear to see the hurt crack across his face when he realised our cruel deception.

This second place seemed a lot more informal and was clearly very popular, meaning we were forced to sit outside. I positioned Paul in the shadows in such a way that had the waiter from over the square glanced over, he might have reasonably assumed I was eating lunch with the ghost of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. To make up for his shite acting I sent him in to order for us. He came back with two diet cokes and a beaming smile – he’d managed to order us tapas without any problems at all. Attaboy.

No sooner had he sat down with a ‘fat man sigh’ than the waiter came out – yet another bronzed god whose eyes screamed sex but his face screamed ‘ripped off for a Visa story in Take a Break’. Hmm.  There must be a factory where these Spanish studmuffins are pumped out on a conveyor belt – if anyone has the address, please let me know so I can volunteer myself as a loading dock. Anyway, he popped a wee plate in front of us with two tiny discs of bread and a bit of grey meat on it. An excellent, if unidentifiable start. Down the hatch it went – couldn’t tell you what meat it was but it was juicy enough. Paul enjoyed his morsel very much and we were looking forward to a tasty range of tapas brought to us one by one to sample. You know where this is going, don’t you?

Yes, we sat there for a full thirty minutes, sipping our flat coke and staring sadly into the kitchen, where no-one met our gaze. Turns out Paul hadn’t actually ordered us tapas, as such, but rather, just one. A tapa, if you will. When we eventually gave up I asked him if he’d paid and he confirmed that he had indeed done so and how remarkably cheap it had been – less than five euros, including drinks! You know when you look at someone with such incredulity that your furrowed brows almost come off your head? That was me. In an hour we’d managed a disc of bread, a gulp of water and one cube of mystery meat. We gave up, trundled off back down the streets, but not before the first waiter gave us a proper look of ‘told you so, you limey bastards’.

We moved on. I can’t remember where we did end up eating – apologies – but it was very good and we had more than enough to fill us, leaving plates and boards and crumbs strewn extravagantly over our table. The rest of the afternoon was spent mooching about – we headed towards where the gay bear bar was, but they’d shut up shop. Probably seen how much food we’d put away and pulled the shutters down lest we came in and snapped their sling.  Bastards. By god there were some rough hotels around this area, mind – I especially liked this hotel with a pair of shitty drawers strewn over their welcome sign…

Classy!

Now listen, it wouldn’t be terrifically exciting to describe the fact we wandered around shopping, then went back to the hotel to splash about in the pool and watch Tipping Point. I know what you’re thinking: the glamour – it never ends! You’re quite right.

The plan for the evening was to head out to try and locate Sticky Vicky – well, we had to, didn’t we? For those unfamiliar, you lucky bastards. You know that scene in Mary Poppins pulls the lips of her bag apart and pulls out all manner of odd things – a birdcage, an umbrella, a lamp? It’s pretty much that act, but rather than a carpet bag she uses her fanny. Sorry, how crass: her grot-slot. She uses her blart like one might use an overnight bag or a drawer in a utility room. A quick glance (through my fingers) at videos online showing her pulling batteries, light-bulbs, razor blades and fruit from her snatch. Even the man from Del Monte would say no to that. Her wiki entry (not a euphemism) describes her as a ‘vaginal magic show’. A vaginal magic show? Please. David Blaine’s a vaginal magic show, and that’s because he’s a c*nt.

Mother, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry.

Anyway, bless, it’s not the original Sticky Vicky as she has sadly contracted uterine cancer – but she handed over the act to her daughter. What are the odds that both mother and daughter would have a liver-sock like a closing-down sale at Wickes? She was quite the legal eagle too, you know – she successfully sued someone for stealing her act and trademarked the name Sticky Vicky. I can’t imagine that a moron in a hurry would confuse her pulling half a rack of lamb and an aga out of her gammon-flaps for anything else, but hey. We researched online to see where she would be only to be met with the disappointing/thank God news – they’d both stepped down. There’s a rash (that’s what’ll happen when you’re yanking breeze blocks out of your chomper) of people doing similar acts now, so although we couldn’t see the original, we decided that if we headed out we’d most likely bump into someone pulling something out of/putting something in their blurter – even if it was just replacing their fannynanny in the street. I mean, it is Benidorm.

So, again, out we tottered, drinking at various establishments along the way – I’d be more specific, but god knows the plastic chairs and burnt skin tends to run into one another, especially as you consume far too much alcohol. We had somewhere in our minds that we ought to go watch the Meat Loaf tribute act down at Jokers bar. I was reluctant at first: I was furious with the act for missing his golden opportunity at the best possible pun name he could have had. Seriously, if you’re an overweight Meat Loaf tribute act performing in Spain, why the fuck would you not call yourself:

‘Fat out of El’

I mean honestly. Nevertheless, the thought of someone belting out some classic Meat Loaf was inviting enough to win me round. First some food – the usual problem of trying to find somewhere to eat that looked faintly decent. We looked everywhere but nothing came up and after a good hour of walking around, we settled for a classic Spanish spread in the er…Clay Oven Indian restaurant. Of course! Listen, we tried, we really did, but the only other place that looked remotely inviting was packed to the rafters with a sea of lightly wobbling elderly folks. It looked as though there was a tiny earthquake taking place. Anyway, the Clay Oven wasn’t bad at all, save for the fact it took us two hours to complete our meal, 40 minutes of which was waiting for the waiter to bring us the bill. He disappeared with the promise of getting the card machine and never came back. I presume he’d left the machine back in their sister restaurant in Bangalore. The food was delicious mind – for reasons we can’t go into it’s been a long while since we’ve had a good rich calorie-laden meal and this really scratched the itch, although the onions, spices and sauces were almost immediately playing havoc with my belly. We paid up and moved on, finally seeing Jokers looming large on the horizon. In we went.

It was rammed. Absolutely rammed. Clearly a lot of people want to see a bit of Meat Loaf, and who could blame them? The bar was shaped like a horseshoe with the stage in the middle and it was standing room only, even right at the back. We bought drinks and found a space where we might glance the top of his head. That’s fine – live acts are like casual sex – doesn’t really matter what they look like, you’re more concerned with the noises they’re making.

This was the only way I could get a shot of him!

But, oh no. We had trouble.

Trouble in the shape of a miserable, moaning, sour-faced old bag who was sat RIGHT AT THE BACK of the venue and was complaining that because we’d stood in front of her, she couldn’t see. You need to understand that immediately in front of us was a stag party, also stood up, so the very best she could see before us was a row of arses clad in George at Asda jeans. I could hear her mumbling away, getting louder and louder, saying to her husband that she’d been sat there three hours (WELL SIT AT THE FUCKING FRONT THEN, YOU SAGGY, DEATH-DODGING HUSK) and now the night was ruined because of ‘those fat men’. Fat! I mean, she’s right – when Paul and I stand next to each other it’s the equivalent of someone parking a small lorry in the bar – but still!

You better believe then that we spent almost an hour of Meat Loaf’s tribute act on our tip-toes, waving our arms around, shrieking and wolf-whistling. Anything to block her view just that bit further. She was muttering away like a stuck budgie but I cared not. Had she asked us to move – despite it making no difference to what she could see – we would have gladly done so because we’re not arseholes. But because she was rude she was granted no mercy at all. Oh, and we had one final trick up our sleeve – or rather, up my arse. Remember all that rich, spicy Indian food I’d put away a couple of hours earlier and washed it down with lots of beer? It was making a dramatic gassy re-appearance round the back, meaning she got the full force of a good spicy after-dinner-hint in her general direction every 30 seconds or so. I know, I’m rotten. By the time we decided to leave she had a big brown streak in her grey hair, though at least it went swimmingly with her nicotine fringe.

Have to admit, it was difficult to get out of the venue, what with the team of paramedics trying to bring her round.

Anyway – the rest of the night descended into more drinking, more stumbling about and, somewhat embarrassingly, I set my moustache on fire with a flaming shot from some knockabout bar. I was gutted: I’ve been trying to grow a neat beard for so long, and poof, gone – a big chunk missing from the top of my lip. With the smell of burning in my nostrils, the sound of Paul retching in my ears and nearly all the money we went out with still in my wallet (seriously, it’s so hard to spend money in Benidorm – everything is so cheap), we went to bed. Oh and for those who think I’m mean to poor Paul, let me tell you this – I actually got up in the night to put a load of furniture in front of the balcony doors as I was so terrified that Paul would get an idea to jump out of the balcony in his heavily drunken state. What can I say: I’m a love. Actually, it’s more because I didn’t want breakfast to be cancelled the next morning as they scraped Paul-jam off every conceivable surface. Trust me, I know what that’s like…

Anyway. Until we meet again.

REMEMBER, leave us some feedback on the holiday entries!


Double dip time! Both are delicious and here’s the thing – I don’t like aubergine and I don’t like beetroot. But I like both of these…you couldn’t write the script! Or something. Either way, these dips are perfect with chunks of Broghies. Remember us twattling on about these the other day? They’re one syn each, big enough to break into six good chunks and are great for dips. They’re not bursting with flavour so it’s important you have a good dip for them – but they are satisfying our crisp itch like nothing before. You can find them in Iceland or, even better, contact them via here (it’ll open in a new window!) and let them know you want them! Both are dead easy to make.

baba ganoush



baba ganoush

to make baba ganoush, you’ll need:

  • four big aubergines – get big buggers mind, you want ones that demand you buy a copy of Razzle just to hide them under in case the neighbours see
  • one tablespoon of good olive oil (6 syns)
  • salt and pepper
  • one lemon
  • three garlic cloves
  • one tablespoon of tahini (5 syns)
  • chopped parsley

to make baba ganoush, you should:

  • if you have gas and a lot of time, have yourself a good fart and then get ready – you want to cook the aubergines nice and hot so the skin blisters, so yes, if you have gas, you can prick them with a fork and then hold them over the naked flame of your hob until they’re cooked through and blackened
  • but who the fuck has time for that, honestly – do what I do, prick them all over and stick them under the grill for twenty minutes, turning halfway through
  • mash up your olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar (or just mush it with your hands)
  • cut the aubergines in half, get the flesh into a bowl, mix it with your oil mixture from above, and scatter with chopped parsley
  • enjoy!

We can thank Paul Hollywood for this. Aubergines have plenty of moisture in them but if you want, add another tablespoon of tahini for 5 more syns. I won’t tell Margaret. Can’t find tahini? You’re not looking hard enough – most supermarkets sell it and it’s not expensive to buy. Worth tracking it down! Don’t want to spend syns? Fine, make this beetroot raita instead! I found this in Meera Sodha’s vegetarian Indian recipe book, which I love more than I can possibly tell you. There’s not a thing in there I don’t adore. Have a look – it’ll open in a new window. I’ve tinkered with the recipe to make it even easier.

minty beetroot raita

minty beetroot raita

to make minty beetroot raita, you’ll need:

  • a pack of cooked beetroot globes – we bought ours in Tesco, the ones that are vacuum-packed – tasty
  • two garlic cloves
  • a nice big lemon
  • 1 tbsp mint sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • fat-free natural yoghurt (if you want it syn-free) or a decent natural/Greek yoghurt if you’re only concerned about taste!
  • optional: Broghies, raw veg or whatever you want for dipping!

to make minty beetroot raita, you should:

  • grate your beetroot – I think you can buy grated beetroot actually, but if not, whizz it through a food processor with the grater blade on – it’ll make sharp work of it – we’ve got the Magimix and there’s nothing more satisfying than watching it destroy stuff
  • mince your garlic (use one of these bad boys – you’ll save your fingers and you don’t need to fart about peeling the garlic)
  • squeeze yer lemon and save the juice
  • take your grated beetroot, minced garlic, mint sauce and lemon juice and pop it into a frying pan – you want to cook the beetroot a little just to ‘dry’ it out a bit, using lemon juice to stop it sticking
  • add a good pinch of salt and lots of black pepper
  • allow it to cool and then mix with the natural yoghurt until it’s the consistency you want – don’t do it when the beetroot is hot though otherwise the yoghurt will split!
  • serve with raw veg or a delicious Broghie!

Want some more recipe ideas? Just click the buttons below! You’ll love it, I promise.

vegetariansmall   snackssmall slowcookersmallovernight-oatstastersmall

Enjoy!

J

cheese and spinach stuffed aubergine rolls

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We didn’t tip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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J

 

 

oh so fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps

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

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

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


 

part one | part two | part three | part four

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

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

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

Nice views though.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps

fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps

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

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

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

to make fancy Slimming World prawn cocktail wraps you should:

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

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

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

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J

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

risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese

Now then: does the risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese get you all of a-tingle ‘down below’? Are you chewing the seat with anticipation? Then by all means scroll down, but first, part six of our Swiss tales – part seven is the final entry and that’ll be coming online soon, but I’ve got such a bad habit of not finishing our travel stories that I’m determined to see this one out. Remember, this is holiday zero of twelve this year: this is a bonus one! Oops.

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

Bern, then.

You last left us as we fell off the train in Bern, completing a ridiculously scenic yet slightly tiring eight hour trip around Switzerland by train. You need to understand that this was easily the most beautiful train journey we’ve ever done (though that’s not an especially high benchmark – I can’t imagine the Metro journey from South Shields to Shiremoor making many bucket lists) but even in the face of such beauty, you find yourself dozing off. My eyebrows were aching from raising in delight. The last entry dealt with our first night in Bern and a couple of day trips, but I did say I’d revisit this to tell you a little more about Bern itself. But before we begin, here’s Paul as a biscuit:

Firstly, did you know it’s the capital of Switzerland? I have to admit, I thought the capital was Geneva, but no – little Bern holds the title. On the edge of your seat yet? You ought to be: clamp down whatever pair of lips you’ve got available and hold on because here’s another riproaring fact for you: it’s also known as the City of Fountains due to the many ornate fountains dotted around. By extension, Newcastle should be called the City of Broken Teeth, or Southend the Land of the Split Hymen.

No, let’s be fair, there are an awful amount of fountains everywhere, to the point where you’re constantly needing a piss thanks to the incessant background noise of tinkling water. Hilariously, one of the fountains, the snazzily named Kindlifresserbrunnen, depicts an ogre eating little children. I assumed it must just be a metaphorical take on child cannibalism but nope, there it is, proud as punch, standing in the centre of the Kornhausplatz, with the body of a devoured child sticking out of his gob. It’s what I imagine Theresa May has in her front garden to keep the local peasants away from her gooseberries.

Like Geneva, it’s obligatory to smoke – I never left a building without feeling like I was the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, appearing from doorways in a flourish through the whirling cloud of fag smoke. The main area of Bern is called the Old City of Bern and it is this you’ll be familiar with – the Medieval buildings, the chocolate-box shops literally selling chocolate boxes and dozens of tiny shopping arcades and cobbled streets where the buildings above actually hang over the walkways. It’s all exceptionally twee and stunning to look at – so much history and culture in one glorious settings – and thus it was inevitable that the first shop Paul and I would enter was a seedy sex shop on the main arcade.

Well: gosh. It was dark around the back of the shop and the air heady with poppers – I put my hand out to steady myself on a bannister only to hear a loud groan of pleasure. We didn’t like to loiter because it looked like the type of place that was due a raid from the vice squad and so we made to leave. On our hasty exit out of there we spotted a fondue shop just over the road and made a mental note to return to it later.

I mean, look at this astrological clock on the Zytglogge..It’s beautiful. Paul stopped to use the pissour nearby and I shouted ‘I can see Uranus!’. The crowd went mild.

We spent the rest of the morning just casually walking around Bern – it’s a pleasantly compact place and the streets lend themselves to just exploring, though you can hop on the trams if you like. There’s a tram every half second, seemingly. We crossed the River Aare (presumably so called because you’re constantly going ‘Aare, that’s reet beautiful that is‘) via the Nydeggbrücke bridge (itself an absolute beauty, not least because it gave you a perfect view of Old Bern). Paul took a photo:

I spotted signs for the Bärengraben – a bear park.

Now come on – if there’s anywhere that’s going to pique my curiosity, it’s a heavily wooded area supposedly filled with bears roaming around looking for action. I’d already lubed up and adopted the ‘airport security check’ position when Paul pointed out that it wasn’t bears in the sense of hairy, older gay men, but rather the ursine variety. The ones that kill and steal honey. I tried to hide the disappointment as it cascaded across my face and we headed over. Also, we had a brief conversation there and then about at some point having to change the name of the blog when we’re no longer classed as cubs – I’m already in the grey area – we’ll be known as two burly bears. See, always thinking ahead.

There’s many varying accounts of why Bern has live bears frolicking about, but the most widely accepted idea is that Bern’s soldiers returned home from a wee skirmish in Italy with various spoils and er, a live bear. Christ, I thought I was doing well coming home from Rome with 200 Chesterfields smuggled down my trousers. Anyway, since then, they’ve always kept a few bears in the bear-pit. Don’t worry, they’re well looked after – lots of bedding, room to scratch about it and occasionally they’ll hurl a particularly noisy tourist in there for them to maul. Oh how excited I was to see them – I love bears!

Except, no, they’d been put away for the winter, like a set of Christmas decorations. We were told we could watch them via a webcam but frankly, I get enough action watching bears in bed on the internet at home, I didn’t need to see it. We still wandered about stroking our chins at the information boards and trying out the new lift for the disabled, then we made our way down to the banks of the river and had a walk along.

A quick mention of the weather: it was my absolute favourite: freezing cold but not biting, air so fresh it’d like you’ve sucked it out of Tom Hardy’s freshly Sminted lungs, sunlight bouncing merrily off every surface and the sky a deep blue. I love winter and this was just the place to experience it. Paul somewhat broke the moment by telling me to get my fat ankles walking a little quicker as he needed the toilet and had spotted a public lavatory on the horizon. Other people visit churches and cathedrals on holiday – Paul seems to class a holiday as a failure if he hasn’t evacuated his bowels in various ways four times a day.

Paul disappeared into the gents and I stationed myself nearby, loitering in a way that I hoped didn’t make me look like a pervert hanging around the bogs but wanting to be near enough in case of any emergencies. Paul managed to snap the lock off a toilet door once and as a result I’m always on edge. Fifteen minutes – I kid you not – passed before he came hurtling out, telling me to come and have a look at something. I protested, naturally – I mean, we’re a close couple, but I do have limits, and anyway what did he want me to do, stick a first prize rosette in it? He pulled at my shoulder and dragged me in.

I have to admit, I’ve never seen one quite like this. I took a video of it to send to my work colleagues, and Paul was so excited. He loves anything unusual! I’m glad he did call me into the toilet because frankly, I didn’t want to miss this! I mean, just watch:

How fun is that? OK look, to anyone else, it’ll probably be nothing, but we love anything gadgety and this way, you’re not having to sit on someone else’s arse-sweat to do your business. A miracle! And in a public loo! In the UK you count yourself lucky if you’re not sitting on a filthy syringe. You can tell they are well off!

After we’d finished shrieking and gasping we emerged from the toilet together, and after only a forty minute interview with the police, we were free to get on with the morning. We spent the morning visiting the cathedrals (stunning) and churches dotted about, making sure we signed the visitors book with ‘Too much body of Christ this winter? Try www.twochubbycubs.com’ before we left. Oh I know, I’m a tinker, but hell, if God is going to strike me down for anything, it’ll be the rampant sodomy, not a bit of advertising.

We eventually made our way back to the tiny restaurant back in the main square to finally try out the Swiss delicacy of fondue. The place was packed full of couples having intense conversations and speaking every language but English. I could barely make my way to the table past all of the glottal stops. I love this type of restaurant – unfussy, homely and a bit ramshackle. All it needed was Paul sitting there without his shirt on spilling his dinner over his tits for me to feel completely at home.

For those that div-not-knaa, fondue is (normally) Gruyère cheese mixed with alcohol and melted slowly over a naked flame – the entire pot is then brought to the table and you’re given cubed things to dip into it. Frankly, it took all of my self-control not to push my entire face into the pot and die a happy man, but I knew easyJet wouldn’t let me through if my face looked like the top of a lasagne.

We ordered Fondue Pesto Rosso – they added sundried tomato pesto and basil, bringing me to full stiffness – with a side of Kalte Gemüsebeilage (bless you) (cold vegetables) and (Kartoffelbeilage) (no no, after you) boiled potatoes for dipping. I don’t need to tell you how delicious it was. There’s lots of etiquette around enjoying fondue – always stir clockwise, do twirl your fork to keep the table tidy, do make some noise. Pfft. They were lucky I didn’t ask for the entire thing to be delivered intravenously.

We spent a happy half hour dipping our bread and scraping every last bit of crusty brown cheese from the bottom of the dish (we weren’t being common, you’re supposed to do it – it’s called ‘la religieuse’ and is a delicacy, promise) and settled back with a loud groan and bellies full of cheese. With the sure and certain knowledge that we’d be pooing Cheesestrings for a good two weeks, we decided not to risk dessert and simply to get the bill.

Well, that sounds easy in print, doesn’t it? I can’t imagine what we had done to our waitress – we’d been unfailingly polite and ho-ho-British – but could we balls get her attention. By this point lunch hour had clearly finished and the place was nearly empty bar us and an elderly lady shaking her way through her seventh kirsch of the day, but help was nowhere to be seen.

We waited politely for almost twenty minutes – our waitress very occasionally popped her head out and stole a glance at us, only to disappear again – and then we started getting distressed. Paul had to google whether there was some unspoken way of showing we had finished and had enough but nothing came up. I did offer to pitch face-first into the pot clutching my heart but he didn’t want to make a scene.

She appeared a good ten minutes later, finally, looking terribly flushed in the face. My working theory: she was letting the chef dip more than a cornichon in her cheese pot. Her bajingo was giving off so much heat that she nearly relit the fondue candle. After paying Paul’s entire annual wage for our meal, we headed back out to explore Bern.

That was the idea, anyway: we actually, oh the shame, had to waddle back to the hotel room and have a nap. We were having the cheese-sweats and Christ we knew about it. That seems like a good point to leave it!

Speaking of cheese, shall we get to this delicious risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese? Shall we? Then let’s not delay a moment more.

to make risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese you will need:

  • 2 pints chicken stock
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ head celery, finely chopped
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 2 handfuls of thyme leaves, chopped (or 3 tsp of dried thyme will do)
  • 50g soft goat’s cheese (8 syns)
  • 105g extra light soft cheese (this is one HEA, by the way)
  • 25g pecorino (5 syns) (if you don’t have pecorino, parmesan, parigiano reggiano or grana padano will do just as well)
  • 6 slices prosciutto, torn up (3 syns)

I’m not a huge fan of celery but it actually adds something to this dish, so leave it in. This comes in at 4 syns each, so it does Elizabeth.

to make risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese you should:

  • in a bowl, mix together the goats cheese and soft cheese until well combined, then put in the freezer to firm up whilst you do the rest
  • heat a little oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat
  • add the onions, garlic and celery and fry slowly for about 4 minutes
  • add the rice to the pan, stir well and knock the heat up – keep stirring for about a minute
  • add the thyme
  • add a ladleful of stock and stir until it’s absorbed – stir the rice gently
  • keep adding stock, a ladle at a time, until it’s all gone
  • remove from the heat and stir in the pecorino
  • serve, then drape over the prosciutto and dollops of goaty soft cheese over the top
  • enjoy!

Doesn’t that feel like a proper cheat day dinner? And yet, still within your syns! Get it made.

Need more ideas? Well gosh, click a button below and get on with it.

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Enjoy!

J

actifry or one-pot lamb tagine

Here for the lamb tagine? Yes, that’s well and good, and perhaps you can’t wait, but if you have five minutes, why not take a moment to read part two of our trip to Switzerland?

I apologise for the length of the last entry – I’ll try and keep it a bit more sensible this time around. This actifry lamb tagine can very easily be made in a normal pot, by the way, just simmer for the same amount of time. Can’t go wrong. I’m typing this up when I actually should be knuckling down for some last-minute Christmas shopping as I have exactly nil Christmas presents bought. Oops. Ah well, lumps of coal and stern looks for all. I might send Black Santa from the previous post.

But anyway, enough grousing. Let us step back a week or so ago to a point where two fresh-faced, handsome men, stylishly dressed for the city and with hope in their hearts, stepped off the Geneva-bound easyJet flight from Newcastle. You’ll see us right behind them, sweating our tits off, pulling our balls free from the inside of our thunderthighs and exclaiming ‘IT’S RIGHT COLD’ as we stumble down the steps like a cow with advanced BSE.

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looking for part one? click here

Do you know, I think that’s the best banner yet.

The first thing we did in Geneva was have a stare-off with some Aldi version of Annie Lennox who was quite insistent that she should cut in front of us in the queue at security, for reasons I couldn’t ascertain from her scowling face and bleached grey hair. You could say she was a Thorn in my Side, but actually, I’d just call her a rude bitch. I don’t mind an elbow in my back-fat if it belongs to Paul but not someone who is jump the queue. Tsk. Paul and I made sure to stand beside each other, pressed firmly together, like Trump’s Wall but made from Tesco jeans and fat. My, she couldn’t half tut though. Imagine my concern.

Security waved us through – yet again, no stamp – why? I want stamps in my passport. I appreciate that means that I’ll probably need to travel somewhat further afield than what Newcastle Airport can offer me but still. Rumour tells me that I’ll get a stamp if I travel to Benidorm, but alas, the stamp will be on my nose by an orange chav with Naf-Naf shoes. Pfft. We made our way out of the airport and decided to have a sandwich and a coffee in one of the many pleasant eateries dotted about the concourse. Well, honestly – in what will doubtless be a running theme throughout these entries – it was so bloody expensive. We had been warned but we waved off the concerns and cautions with the haphazard air of the seasoned traveller. A sandwich and a small coffee? £13. I wanted to lean over the counter and ask if the sandwich came with someone to sit with me whilst I ate and regale me with Swiss fairy-tales but alas, my French doesn’t extend to lusty sass.

That’s another thing about Switzerland – you’re never quite sure whether you should be speaking in French, German, Italian or some bizarre hybrid of the lot. We both give speaking in the native language the old college try but it’s bad enough when you’re trying to summon the French for cheese and ham baguette from the distant memory vault of Year 9 French, it’s even worse when you have to try and build in a Germanic back-up plan. Shamefully, we both did rather more pointing and apologising in English this holiday then we’ve ever done before. We managed to receive disdain from so many races that I felt like Nigel Farage.

Having finished our sandwiches and drib of coffee, neither especially amazing, we made our way to get the train from the airport into the centre of town. I’d looked it up online and spotted that it was a mere 5 minute ride and, even with the Swiss propensity to take the normal price of goods and services and then square it, it was never going to cost that much. However, Paul had spotted somewhere on the Internet that tourists to Geneva were given a free ticket to travel in, saving us, oooh…£4 at best. He wouldn’t be shaken from the idea that we simply had to have this ticket and so it was that we spent a good thirty minutes scouring the airport for this mythical free ticket machine. I was thrilled, as you can imagine, given I was full of warm cheese and bitter coffee, and anyway, this is a man whose primary motive for buying a new car was because his old car was dirty and needed new tyres. He’s not exactly Martin Lewis, you know?

We eventually found the fabled free ticket machine, however, of course, it was located back in the arrivals bit and we’d already  gone through the customs channel, meaning we couldn’t nip back through. Conversation somewhat strained, we made our way back to the train station, I bought us two first class tickets and we were on a train in no time at all. My simmering rage was tempered when the train turned up – it was a double-decker train! I know that’ll be of no excitement to anyone with an active sex-life but to me, it was thrilling. There’s something captivating about climbing up stairs on a train to me – it gives me an opportunity to make grand staircase exits as I leave the train, for one.

As you’d expect, the train was comfortable, luxurious and clean, putting everything that barely trundles around our rail network to shame. There’s something pleasing about sitting in a train where you’re not greeted with a rolling wall of shit-vapour everytime those automatic toilet doors open, for one. We were perturbed by the scenes outside the train window though – I was expecting fastidiously clean streets and charming buildings but instead we were treated to a heavily graffitied jet-fuel depot and lots of suspicious looking men in stonewash denim. Happily, the train pulled smartly into a tunnel and all that was soon forgotten, deposited as we were into Genève-Cornavin station.

This was more like it. Our first true glimpse of Switzerland. First impressions? Very few fat people. I’m not sure why but it was noticeable – no-one clutching handrails on stairs and gasping, no-one shuffling with pained feet – everyone walking briskly and stylishly. I immediately felt bad and made to cover my man-boobs and sweat patches in my Scottish Widow coat. I don’t normally care, but who wants to be the cow pat a field of flowers?

We consulted our phones – thank the lord for google maps – and realised that it was an easy fifteen minute walk to our hotel, the Hotel N’vy, which you can gaze adoringly at by clicking here. Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new window. As we trundled along we were both struck by how clean it all was – yes, perhaps some of the buildings needed a gentle Karchering, but there wasn’t a pick of litter to be seen, nor the other unfortunate city sights that trouble Britain, such as smashed up phoneboxes or the homeless. I assume that’s because Switzerland treat their homeless like humans rather than inconveniences and shysters like we do in the UK.

Seriously, the amount of comments I read on our local rag’s facebook page about Newcastle’s homeless appalls me. Stuff like ‘they spend all their money on drugs so I don’t give them anything’ or ‘they’re all scammers’. You know, if you don’t want to donate or help, that’s fine, we’ve all got our reasons, but please don’t wear your arseholery like a badge. No-one is impressed. Frankly, if someone wants to put the quid or two that I’ll drop in their pot on some smack to get them through a winter’s night, so be it, good for them. I’d do the same thing if I was on the streets – not as if I’d get much for selling my body, for sure, though perhaps someone could cut me open and sleep in my belly like Leonardo di Caprio does in The Revenant with that antelope. If I’m being conned, at least I took a gamble.

Anyway, sidetracked, sorry. We made it to our hotel without getting lost once which is a bloody miracle given neither of us can find our arses with our elbows. Honestly, our sex life is just a long series of pointed directions – up a bit, down a bit, left a bit, no no, come down a bit, to me, to you – our neighbours must think we’re moving a large sofa around a tiny room with assistance from the Chuckle Brothers. Someone once suggested that we use the ‘scratch and sniff’ approach to lovemaking in the dark: pfft, that would work, save for the fact Paul’s arse smells like a stable fire where the horses didn’t make it to safety.

The receptionist was an absolute delight – couldn’t speak a lick of English, unusually, but we managed to laugh our way through the reservation and she took my American Express with skilled panache. Funny how the language barrier never stands in the way of payment, eh?

We were lucky, too – despite us arriving at around 11ish in the morning, they’d already prepared the room (the usual: reinforce the toilet, plastic sheeting on the bed, make sure the telly can receive Tipping Point and The Chase) and we were ushered upstairs with our luggage by some friendly chap in a lovely hat. He didn’t hold his hand out for a tip which was fortuitous as I only had notes of 100 Swiss Francs (about £80) and in Switzerland that would have only just been enough to get him to hold the door open. He left us to our room where, you guessed it, Paul’s holiday traditions took place – a look in the minibar, the stealing of anything small and portable into our freshly emptied suitcase, and yes, an eye-watering poo. I’d barely got the cap of my complimentary bottle of sparkling water before I heard rapturous groans and heavy splashing from the lavatory, followed by “JUST MAKING ROOM FOR THE FONDUE MY LOVE”. Isn’t he a treat? I don’t think I’ve ever been in a hotel room with Paul for longer than fifteen minutes before it smells like a rendering plant and I can barely read the minibar list through my streaming eyes.

I’d like to tell you that we bustled straight out of the door to enjoy the city but actually, once Paul had finished his poo and had a shower, the early start caught up with us and we decided to spend the day ordering room service and sleeping. We like to spend a full day exploring the city but we needed to be fresh and ready for that, and frankly, we’ve both been working super hard lately. We needed the rest. At some point, in between the drunken sleeping (we raided the minibar, and by god we’d truly pay for that later) and ordering of burgers and chips and sandwiches, Jingle All The Way came on the TV. Aaaah, it doesn’t get any more Christmassy than that, does it?

Let’s pick up the rest of this in our next entry. I apologise that I don’t move on very quickly when I’m typing up holiday entries, but I just love writing about them! I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. To the recipe, then.

We’ve taken this from the MyTefal app, but modified it slightly and gave it a sexier name. We know it’s not a real lamb tagine. Deal with it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t normally need a lot of encouragement to get my hands on a dishy Moroccan, but here we go. I don’t know how they can get away with calling it a lamb tagine, either, given it’s a very ‘dry’ dish. This makes enough for four or so chunkers.

lamb tagine

to make actifry lamb tagine you will need:

  • 900g diced lamb
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 5 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded chopped into large chunks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Actifry’s are back under £90 on Amazon – I don’t expect they’ll stay that way so if you’re sitting on the fence, get one now by clicking here! It’s bloody Christmas, treat yourself.

to make actifry lamb tagine you should:

  • place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well, leave to marinade for 30 minutes
  • cook in the actifry for 27 minutes
  • that’s it

Doing this in a pot? You’ll need to do it a little differently – brown off the lamb first by cooking in a bit of oil. Add about 100ml of lamb stock to the pan and allow to gently bubble along with everything else until thickened and lovely. Serve with rice. Or hoy it all in a slow cooker. Hey, each to their own, am I right?

Looking for more ideas on what to do with lamb? Click the buttons below!

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Enjoy!

J

chicken and cabbage stir fry

Chicken and cabbage stir fry? Just scroll on down. Or have a read of my nonsense…

Now, the last blog entry was bloody miserable, wasn’t it? It all went a bit hello darkness, my old friend, did it not? Well come on, settle back in your chair and let me tell you some good things about Cornwall. It wasn’t all bad, I promise. Look, we had a nice cottage. In fact, I even made a wee video of how it looks. Forgive the crap film style, but see this was originally just intended as a Whatsapp to a mate. Don’t be mean.

It was charming – a small, hidden away little building nestled on a back lane in a small, charming village. It was decorated in that style that normally makes my eyes roll back into my brain but when I’m on holiday, I can overlook and admire. Lots of Orla Kiely, whose name still looks and sounds to me like a Countdown Conundrum, including a few feature walls clad in that distinctive colourful wallpaper which has the unique double effect of making me ooh and wince at the same time. A whoo, perhaps, only not so exuberant. The kitchen was well-appointed, which makes a bloody change, with lots of secret little gadgets that we enjoyed like a hidden plug socket that rose from the unit like a robot’s knob and an extractor fan in the ceiling that opened up like a robot’s arsehole. It really did! Don’t get me wrong, I mean I’ve seen a bloody extractor fan before, but not a sphincter-edition that opens and shuts on command. Terribly exciting. The house was absolutely littered with the kind of living magazines you’ll often find in private hospitals – look at this table made from walnut and disdain, yours for only £16,000. I would love to be in a financial position where I could open one of those magazines and not pass out from sucking too much air in over my teeth. Actually, that’s a fib, I could a billionaire and I’d still shop at IKEA, because all my shopping experiences should end in the consumption of a hot-dog.

Everything you needed was there, including a decent TV, a wine cooler, smart outdoor furnishings, fresh flowers, a little hamper welcoming us as guests, dressing gowns…ah yes, the dressing gowns. Obviously meant for people who eat wheatgrass for breakfast and think nothing of a twenty mile run before work, these barely managed to get around us. It was like trying to hide a sofa behind a tea-towel.We persevered though, and naturally this lead to embarrassment. See, we had received a text from either the owners or the people looking after the cottage to say they’d pop around in the morning. We forgot, of course, and set about on the first morning making a nice breakfast and a mess when someone knocked on the door. Paul, barely clad in his gown, answered the door, taking a moment to ensure the dressing gown met in the middle and covered him up. 

It did – but, unbeknown to him, bless, he was so busy trying to cover his belly up and make small talk about fishing towns with the person at the door that he completely neglected to cover up his nether regions, meaning Little Paul was experiencing some Cornish air of his own. I was just out of sight frantically trying to mime ‘COVER UP’ to him but whenever he looked at me he assumed I mean cover up his belly, and he tightened his gown further at the top which meant the bottom opened up more. Paul, of course, has previous when it comes to flashing his willy – sometimes with my involvement as in Ireland, and sometimes completely on his own steam as in Corsica with the holiday rep. I’m beginning to feel he may have a problem – I reckon we shouldn’t go back to New York, for instance, because he’ll probably end up tripping over one of the live cameras and having a blisteringly highly-detailed, 80ft representation of his spam dagger projected across Times Square. Whoever was at the door had the good grace not to mention his accidental nudity and to their credit, we didn’t hear them start retching until they had climbed back into their own car. Anyway, the police only kept him in for a few hours and then let him go. Kidding. Though they could have done me for handling swollen goods afterwards, kaboom-tish.

Speaking of nudity, the cottage also came with a very odd quirk – an outside bath in the yard. The yard itself wasn’t overlooked and there was a large, wooden fence bordering you from the place next door, so there was no chance of anyone glancing over at me getting undressed and calling the police to report a runaway cow frolicking in the garden. I imagine that (and indeed, the write-up hints at it) when they designed the place they imagined lithe, hunky young couples sliding into the bath together under the stars and laughing tinkly at times past. No chance for Paul and I. If we had somehow managed to both get into the bath there wouldn’t have been any room for so much as a cup of hot water and hell, no amount of Radox Muscle Relaxant would have got us out of there. Imagine two pickled eggs squashed together at the bottom of a jar and you have a faint idea. Paul’s a complete jessie anyway when it comes to being cold so there was no chance of him joining me, though he did come to my aid when my tasteful piles of Love It, Take A Break, Hiya and Fuck Me No Way spilled out of reach across the decking. I don’t know what it is about holidays that make me reach for these magazines, full as they are with medical woes, true crime and children’s names that look like someone has had a half-hearted stab at spelling a normal name and added a hyphen and a ‘Mae’ onto it. I can’t get enough. We took two books each to read – mine being a story about a man who travelled around Britain on a bus (I know how to live) and Paul brought along The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Again. That book has travelled the world with us to the point where I’m beginning to think I need to put Frank Owen on my bloody passport. I wouldn’t care but it’s quite a weighty book and takes up a lot of space in our suitcase, especially as it remains exactly there until it’s time for the flight home again. 

There is something a smidge unnerving about bathing outside, not least because whenever a light aircraft passed overhead it must have looked like the Hindenburg crash site. Worse was climbing out because, paranoia or no, there was a crunch of gravel on the other side of the fence. I can’t imagine anyone was enjoying the sight of my hairy arse clad in Radox bubbles but hey, whatever floats your boat. Admittedly the gravel crunching was more likely to be subsistence or the ground shaking from me pouring out onto the decking, but I digress. There was also a log-burner which I can say, rather proudly, that I managed to light on the first go. Paul was giving it the whole ‘put some more fuel on it’ and ‘throw more logs on it’ like his knowledge of fire extends to anything other than clicking on his mother’s gas fire. Pfft. I grew up with coal, damn it – if it has, at some point, stood upon this Earth, I can make it burn. 

It did have an indoor bathroom, of course, we weren’t having to shit in the yard, and this included a fancy double shower with a rainfall shower and one of those tiny little showers which people say is for washing your hair but I know that secretly it’s for washing your minnie-Moo. Listen ladies, I know what goes on. The dials for the shower had no clue on them as to what made it go hot and what made it go cold, nor what shower they operated, so the half-awake morning shower became more like a scene from Saw as you dodged scalding jets on the back of your leg and an icy cascade from above. I half-expected a little doll on a tricycle to wheel around the corner, although if he was bringing me a fresh bar of coal-tar soap I’d be happy.

If we had only one complaint, it would be the bed. See, we’re spoilt up here because we have an absolutely giant bed that we can tumble around in and lose each other in the heat of night, but this bed was your bog-standard, plain Jane affair. Comfortable yes, but Paul’s both a snorer and a feeler (in that, if I’m not lying next to him, he’ll be reaching out with whatever he can extend until he finds me) and, without space to escape, it made for a long, noisy, sleepless few nights. The pillows weren’t the rock-hard type that we like (honestly, I reckon Paul would be more content if I had someone come and concrete a step onto the bed instead of pillows) and so we both managed to crick our necks. Me especially so, given I’m already carrying a weird neck injury at the moment. The upshot of this was that I couldn’t turn my head right and Paul couldn’t turn his head left, which made driving in Cornwall, with its labyrinthine roads and many, many junctions, a very fractious event. Many moments of calm and tranquility in the Cornish countryside were ruined by the over-revving of my engine, me shouting at Paul to check my way rather than his way and him shouting at me saying he couldn’t and then us both shouting at each other for confirmation and then finally shouting at some poor fart in the car in front for not pulling away sharp enough and thus forcing us to repeat the whole dance again. BAH.

That is the only complaint though. We had a remarkable stay and it’s a place that, despite my crass and crude review, I can’t recommend strongly enough. It was tastefully decorated, ideally situated, had everything you could need and, for once, it was made for couples rather than smelly children. We booked with www.uniquehomestays.com and the cottage was called Two Bare Feet. We’d go back in a heartbeat. Well, no, maybe if they moved it onto the Northumberland coast…

…right, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This recipe serves 4.

chicken and cabbage stir fry

to make chicken and cabbage stir fry you will need:

  • 300g dried noodles
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks (you don’t need to use four breasts here, despite this being for four people – two big Musclefood chicken breasts will do. I know I bang on about them a lot but two of these breasts is more than enough meat, especially compared to the tiny ones you get from the supermarket – just have a look at our deal and you’ll never look back!)
  • 2 tbsp cornflour (2 syns)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp root ginger, grated
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cabbage, chopped
  • 300g frozen peas, thawed
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds (optional – roughly 2 syns)

Don’t forget, use your mincer for the ginger and then just put your ginger knob right in the freezer. It’ll be fine! A microplane mincer is one of the best things you can buy for the kitchen and it’s so cheap!

to make chicken and cabbage stir fry you should:

  • cook the noodles according to the instructions, drain and rinse with cold water, and then set aside
  • in a large bowl whisk together the chicken stock, soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger and cornflour – make sure there are no lumps
  • allow the stock mixture to cool slightly if it is hot (such as if you’ve made it using a stock cube and boiling water) and then add the chicken, and leave to marinade for about 20 minutes
  • using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the bowl and shake off the excess, but keep the marinade – you’ll need that later
  • heat a large pan or a wok over a medium-high heat and add a little oil
  • cook the chicken, stirring frequently so it doesn’t catch
  • remove the chicken from the pan and set aside
  • in the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the onions until softened
  • add the peppers and carrots to the pan and continue to stir fry
  • add the cabbage and keep stirring, for about 6 minutes until the cabbage starts to wilt
  • add the peas to the pan along with the rest of the marinade and the chicken, and stir until the sauce has thickened
  • add the noodles to the pan and stir until warmed through
  • serve the mixture and add the spring onions to garnish

It’s as easy as that, see?

J

honey and rosemary chicken

Here for the honey and rosemary chicken? Then scroll down. I need to get something off my chest (aside from the eight stone of suffocating fat) and that’s a recount of our trip to Land’s End. I did say I’m going to do our tale of Cornwall a little differently and well, this day out needs a post all of its own. So here we go…

twochubbycubs go to Cornwall: Land’s End

You can’t go to Cornwall and not visit Land’s End – it’s like going to London and not seeing the Queen, or going to Southend and not getting roughly fingered under the pier by someone more hair gel than teeth. Oh I know, Southend is lovely and charming and really, what’s a severe physical assault when you’ve got the glitz of the Rendezvous casino and the chance to spot a Subaru doing doughnuts in a McDonalds car park? I digress. I imagined Lands End to be some quaint little village right on the tip of southern England, full of darling tea-shops and people laughing gaily.

Well, it fucking wasn’t.

Excuse my swearing, but I’ve genuinely never been more disappointed with a place in my life. And I’ve been to Hartlepool. On a bus. What should have been a fairly tasteful and certainly interesting place to visit was nothing more than a tacky, ill-designed, grasping tourist trap, comprising of poorly thought out exhibitions and miserable staff. We had chortled our way down the A30 on a brisk, drizzly English day – all roads in Cornwall seem to go via the A30, I reckon I could drive it blindfolded now – and our hearts were lifted as the Sat Nav, inexplicably tuned to the voice of Colonel Sanders, told us that the exhibition centre was only half a mile away. I should have clocked there and then – an exhibition centre? Why? Let us look at the cliffs, the signpost and perhaps have a cup of tea and a moan about our knees. Exhibitions aren’t needed – the beauty is exhibition itself. Nevermind. We indicated off into the almost empty car-park only to be waved down by someone who, a touch ironically, had a face like a wet weekend. He informed us that it was £5 for the privilege of parking our car into what looked like a plane crash site, all jagged and cratered. I try to crack a joke that ‘I’m not bringing a coach in’ but he wasn’t having any of that, so we paid up and did the very British thing of sitting in the car bitching on about it.

£5 though. Yes, it’s not a great amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but it’s grasping. Why a fiver? Am I going to tear up five pounds worth of tarmac primly parking my DS3? Was he going to bring it around for me when we left? There’s simply no need for it, especially out of season. Still twisting our faces, we stole a glance at the leaflet, which promised ‘something to do for every member of the family’. Hmph.

I just want you to know that at this point I had an absolutely killer joke lined up but the other half censored it because he said ‘think of the complaints’ – spoilsport. But see we do have limits.

Our first stop was to the giant tat shop, which was full of all the lovely things only people in their nineties buy for other people in their nineties that they don’t like – fudge that predates decimalisation, clothes you wouldn’t wear for a bet and all sorts of lead-based paperweights, pencils and cough sweets. I can’t imagine a single soul in their life has desired an ashtray showing people they once went to the absolute arse-end of the country they’re smoking in, but hell, here they were, and cheap at only half your dignity. We sniffed the scented candles with all their wank names: “Cornwall Wash”, “Grasping Bastards” and “Fuck Me, A Fiver?!” all leaving a sour taste in our mouths. The one item I quite fancied, a small slab of designer (!?) chocolate, caught my eye, until I realised it would be cheaper to buy Hotel Chocolat in Newcastle and have someone walk it down to the Cornwall cottage. We did end up parting with coins though – everywhere we go we always get some item of pure unadulterated tat for the games room – and so a lovingly, hand-painted snowglobe was bought, depicting what looks like Dachau in the midst of a wailing snowstorm, but is ostensibly a tiny representation of the visitor centre. Incidentally, Cornwall is the least likely place to get snow in the entire United Kingdom, so it only seemed appropriate that they’d have a huge display of snowglobes. Perhaps it was tiny fivers billowing about under the glass. Again, and there’s going to be a theme here, sorry, but we were served by someone who had all the personality and warmth of an unapologetic fart. She served us like we were inconveniencing her terribly, despite us and a gaggle of equally depressed looking Chinese tourists being the only people in her shop, and she slapped down our produce and money like they were on fire. I’ve never heard have a good day said with such venom. We pressed on.

They describe the opportunity to ‘feel like a giant by visiting our miniature village’. I love stuff like this, it’s such a British thing to do, but once we’d lumbered over there, it was shut for repairs. I looked carefully and didn’t see any 1/16th sized cement mixers going about their business or Subbuteo-sized men in hi-viz jackets standing around scratching their arse. Ah well, there’s other stuff to do, something for everyone remember? We looked at the leaflet and saw we could choose between an ‘Aardman exhibition’ (I’m sure I went to something along those lines in Berlin) or ‘Arthur’s Quest’. Well, nothing says welcome to Cornwall like nosing around claymation and oohing over a bloody animation studio based in er, Bristol. Right. We thought we’d give it a go, not least because it was indoors and it was getting a mite cold so close to the sea, but er, it was shut. Wahey – that fiver’s worth of parking seemed even more reasonable at this point. Being plucky, cheerful Geordies, we sucked up our disappointment and decided to try Arthur’s Quest, which was an interactive maze narrated by Brian Blessed. Even if it was appalling, the fact that Brian was going to be shouting orders at you would make it hilarious. The man has a gift – he could sit me down and tell me my spine was turning to dust and my penis was about to fall off and I’d still walk out of the surgery slapping my knees and guffawing. 

But, it was closed. Three for three of pure disappointment. That left buying a Cornish pasty at the little café but frankly, Paul was beginning to have chest pains through too much pastry so we sacked that off and decided to walk, slowly, to get a picture of the famous sign which points to various destinations around the world – New York 3147 miles, John O’Groats 874 miles, decent tourist attractions anywhere but here. Here’s another cherry on top of this bun of disappointment. You’re expected to pay £9.95 to get your photo taken by the sign and it’s actually chained off so  anyone with the temerity to think this is a bloody ripoff can’t just hop over and take a photo. There’s a passive-aggressive sign saying it’s someone’s family business and to respect that. The man in the little booth glared at us as we took a picture regardless. I would have cheerfully have paid a couple of quid or stuck a smaller note into a charity box but a tenner? For a photo? Haway. It’s possibly the most famous sign in Britain, let people take a photo with it and then they’ll go spend the rest of their money in the eateries and shops around (assuming they’re bloody open) and everyone is a winner! This outrageous nickle-and-diming, prevalent all throughout Cornwall, did my absolute nut in. It’s free to have a photo taken at the other end up at John O’Groats, and I can’t imagine you need to pay to park either. Anyway, I reassured Paul I’d photoshop the two of us seamlessly into the picture and I reckon I’ve done a cracking job:

nailedit

Seriously I should work for Vogue touching up their photos, you can barely tell.

You know when you think a place couldn’t get any worse? It managed it – the telescopes to look out to sea were more expense and only sought to bring the fog and mist closer to us. There was a wee lighthouse to look at but I could have had the same magnification effect by moving my glasses an inch down my nose. Paul was inexplicably wearing his sunglasses despite me referring to him as Homocop all day. There was a little bird hide to sit for a bit to see the kittiwakes, but naturally, that was closed too. That especially disappointed me because I was at least hoping for a magnificent shag at this point, given there was no-one around. Bah! We mooched on for a bit more and decided to try and salvage the hour by having a cup of tea in the First & Last House a bit up the hill. I presume that’s been renamed from ‘The Last Place in England’ because they were sick of hearing people saying they’d never drink there again if it were the last place in England. We asked for two cups of tea and were handed two paper cups of hot water with a teabag hanging in it. For not a kick-off-the-arse-of £4. Something which I reckon would cost at maximum 5p to make. Even the milk was in those awful little sealed cups you get on aeroplanes, that jettison their contents all over your trousers if you so much as blink at them. And, yes, the woman serving us was hostile and unpleasant and had a face like a grieving cod.

At this point we’d spent £16.70 for the opportunity to make our own tea, park in a crater and look at some ‘closed’ signs. I was spitting. I’m not a tight-arse when it comes to money, far from it, but there’s got to be a line. I’ll happily put money into a charity pot or buy a magazine or wince my way through an overpriced ice-cream but charging people to park up and then not telling them most of the exhibitions are closed, or to take a photo of a landmark? Ridiculous, and honestly, it’s very much a southern thing. That isn’t some parochial Geordie tubthumping either, but take for example our Angel of the North – you turn up to this massive piece of artwork, park for nowt, can walk all over it, climb on the bugger, hell someone even put a giant Newcastle shirt on it once, and it costs not a penny. There’s occasionally an ice-cream man there peddling 99s but that’s about it. If Anthony Gormley had had a fit of the vapours and plopped his pin in Newquay instead of Newcastle, you’d have the Angel boxed off from sight unless you paid a tenner, someone selling pasties the size and price of a small family car between her legs and an inexplicable (and inevitably closed) exhibition all about something local and relevant like ooh…geisha girls, for an extra forty quid. Bah.

I’ll say one good thing: the cliffs were pretty. But then so are the cliffs at the Ring of Kerry and I didn’t have my pockets patted down there either.

I’ve never driven away from a place so quickly and angrily as I did that afternoon. The sound of gravel and soil churning under my tyres was almost drowned out by the sound of my teeth gnashing. If I can take one comfort from all of this is that I managed to at least use £5 worth of toilet paper dropping off a tod of barely digested pasty in the netty before I went. Take that, you grasping bastards!

low syn honey and rosemary garlic with roasted vegetables

to make honey and rosemary chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts (look at the size of the chicken breast in that picture – it’s a Musclefood chicken breasts and they’re tasty and plump and pert, like a good breast should be. I’m told. You’ll get loads of them in our fantastic freezer filler box – take a look and see!)
  • 1 tbsp honey (2½ syns)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp garlic, chopped finely
  • any vegetables of your choice (we used 1 courgette, 2 peppers, 1 red onion, handful of asparagus spears, handful of black olives, basically any old shite you have tumbling around amongst the chocolate and the crisps)

to make honey and rosemary chicken you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees and chop your vegetables into large chunks or slices
  • spray with a little frylight (or some Fillipo Berio olive oil – that’s what we do, 7 sprays for half a syn) and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes. you won’t need to turn it – we sometimes add a sprinkle of salt or balsamic vinegar, especially when we’re using tomatoes)
  • meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the honey, lemon juice, rosemary and chopped garlic
  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the chicken breasts 
  • cook for about 10 minutes, and flip over
  • after five minutes, pour the the honey mixture over the chicken and into the pan and cook for another five minutes
  • serve the chicken on top of the roasted vegetables

Easy! And yes, it might be a fraction more than 0.5 syns – perhaps a quarter of a syn more – but buggered if I’m going to shit the bed over a quarter of a syn.

J

twochubbycubs’ chilli stuffed easydillas

You have no idea how much I love a good pun, so chilli stuffed easydillas – as in a really easy version of a quesadilla, really tickled my hoop. If you’re looking for the recipe, just scroll that mouse-wheel or finger your screen and you’ll be there in no time. 

Have you been out and voted yet? If not, why not? It’s one of the most important things you can do. Even if you think there’s no point, do it anyway. You’ll never get rid of thrush unless you apply the cream, after all.

We’ve finally been back to weigh-in and after spending eight years waiting in the queue cursing under our breath, we’ve been weighed, shamed and course-corrected. Nowhere to go now but down…

…and speaking of going down, let’s discuss Cornwall, shall we? I’m going to do it a little differently – a series of different thoughts, rather than one big monologue – I need to give my poor fingers a rest and anyway, unusually, I didn’t keep notes. So bear with me…

twochubbycubs go to…cornwall – part one

Why Cornwall? Well, naturally, we were attracted to the endless walks, the wonderful surfing opportunity and the chance to lay on a beach and sizzle. Pfft, as if. Let’s get this clear – the only surfing I did was via my iPad to find out when the local Tesco planned to shut off our clotted cream supply. No, we always tend to holiday out of England when we stay in the United Kingdom, but we thought to hell with it, let’s try somewhere different.

And boy, was that a bloody struggle. Seriously – I’ve said it before, there is a massive market out there ready for milking for holiday cottages built for young, professional couples who don’t have sticky-fingered kids, moulting dogs or an extended family travelling with them like fleas on a cat. We spent hours looking for places to rent for a week away and probably found about four cottages that matched what we were looking for. Everywhere else looked like the type of place you’d see on TV in a documentary about someone who got eaten by their cats or drowned in newspapers. Who has ever looked at a room and thought ‘yes, this will do, but we must add more beige’? Eh? I want a cottage full of modern features, tasteful decoration, fun touches and unusual things. Not somewhere where I could see myself stumbling out into the garden to die of terminal boredom, face-down in a Chat magazine with taupe carpet fibres on my tea-stained jumper. 

This was the first cottage we considered.

image8963-3

Admittedly, it looks dull as dishwater inside but heavens, look at the view. I could comfortably see Paul and I as masters of the lighthouse – let’s be honest, if there’s one thing we’re both good at it’s guiding seamen into a safe place – but sadly, they were booked up. Naturally. I’m sorry to be sore about it but I hope Jeremiah (venture capitalist, impotent), Lucinda (yahmy-mummy blog writer) and little Tarquinidad and Labia-Bell (conceived via a rough car mechanic called Trent) had an awful holiday with all those steps to climb. Mahaha.

croft103-at-night

Our second option, pictured above, up at the other end of the land, was Croft 103 – take a look and tell me that doesn’t look gorgeous. Sadly, again, all booked up. By this point I was beginning to grind my teeth and make plans for a European break when Paul found Two Bare Feet via Google, a cottage down in sunny Cornwall. We booked via uniquehomestays.com – who were excellent, very efficient and a pleasure to deal with (25% off next booking please) and we were on our way. We’ll address the cottage in the next entry.

Now, Newcastle to Cornwall is a bloody long drive – just shy of 450 miles, fact fans. We could have flown, but it’s Newcastle remember – the only flights available that weren’t a vomit-express to Malaga didn’t leave on the days we needed. Plus, I needed to work on our day of departure, so we decided to drive halfway after work and stop in a Premier Inn somewhere in Bumhole, Birmingham. I might have made that name up.

What a drive though – the glamour of the A1, the majesty of the M6. We elected to take my car rather than Paul’s Smart car as we needed to take more than two lightly-folded t-shirts and a plimsoll, so his boot wouldn’t have worked. Paul, having driven an automatic now for many months, gave me such a start as he lurched out, over-revving and kangarooing and generally being over savage with my clutch, but luckily we escaped certain death once he didn’t have to slow down or be gentle. That’s unfair – I’m just as bad driving his Smart car. But that’s because I’m six foot of man pressed into a Quality Street tin sized car interior. It remains the only car I can simultaneously pop the bonnet with one knee and open the boot with the other. That’ll be me banished from ever driving it again. Imagine my distress.

There is something about long car journeys at night that I love – and it’s not that it usually ends up with me getting holes in the knees of my jeans in a layby somewhere, because that simply isn’t true. No, it reminds me of my childhood, when holidays involved my parents shepherding my sister and I into a battered Ford Escort at 3am in the morning in order to get a good start driving up into Scotland to “beat the traffic”, as though the A69 at Warwick Bridge was the equivalent of the roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe. Invariably it would be too cold to have the windows down so the first few hours of the drive would be spent coughing and spluttering whilst my parents hotboxed us to death via endless Lambert & Butlers. We’d get out for a desultory Olympic breakfast in a Little Chef on an industrial estate outside of Lockerbie with blue lips and a faint golden patina of nicotine. No wonder my sister and I always used to fight in the back of the car – my dad would barely have backed down the drive before punches were being thrown, ankles were being kicked and hair was being pulled – but see that was my sister all over, so I never hit her back.

Gosh, I might do a few blog posts about earlier holidays actually, I love reminiscing of times when I used to be a) skinny b) far less cynical and c) more easily impressed. Let’s get back into the fast-lane though and talk about our current excursion.

I’ve mentioned on previous occasions how much I love stopping at service stations. I find them exciting! Everyone is going somewhere – normally to the cash machine to get £20 out to pay for two coffees and a side of abysmal customer service – and everyone has a tale.  Travelling does something to my sphincter that invariably means I want to stop for a poo at every opportunity, so our short four hour drive took about six hours in the end. Our stops ended up costing us £260 because I was so taken with a Deal or no Deal fruit machine that, when I came home, I ordered one for the games room. I’ve told Paul it’ll help us save money and it will, not least because seeing Noel Edmonds face all lit-up in the corner of our games room will make me so nauseated I’ll not want takeaway. We did have a hairy moment when we turned into Trowell Services at midnight and unpacked our brie and grape baguettes only to have a procession of chavs in their acne-carriages turn up and start doing spins in the car-park. It was Fast & Furious 9: Roaccutane Rush. Listen mate, you’re not impressing anyone by sticking a ‘RIP Paul Walker’ sticker on your nana’s haemorrhage-purple 02-plate Micra. 

We left them to it, driving with a contemptuous sneer of our own which was somewhat diluted by the fact the Archers Omnibus theme-tune was playing through our car speakers as we glided past.  At least it wasn’t Yes Sir (I Can Boogie) which was the song of the holiday. Anyway, our moment of happiness turned into despair when, after a bit more driving, we were informed that the motorway was shut and that we had to find our way to the Premier Inn on our own steam. This was past midnight, remember, and I was tired – I hadn’t managed to finish my baguette either. Paul took control and used a new app on his phone that acts as a sat-nav. Brilliant!

NOT brilliant. No, somehow, those last 25 miles seemed to take an eternity, taking us down all sorts of country roads, private lanes, farm tracks and tiny B-roads. I was cursing the whole time (remember, I don’t trust Sat-Navs) but Paul was adamant we were going the right way. Because I wanted to listen to the end of Brain of Britain, I shut my hole, and carried on. It took us over an hour to reach our destination and it was only then Paul discovered he’d effectively selected the ‘scenic’ route option, avoiding major busy routes. My language was as blue as the bedspread was purple. Our Premier Inn receptionist booked us in, taking a moment to ask Paul ‘who are you?’ before realising that he was the ‘Mrs’ on my booking, and we sank into bed, top layer of skin burning and crisping nicely in the far-too-hot-bedroom. Ah, what a start.

Right, so clearly I can’t just write the odd thought, I do need to monologue. Sorry! I’ll get to Cornwall in the next entry! Let’s do the recipe! Here – this looks complicated and a fart-on to put together, but it really isn’t. So calm your knickers. The picture below shows two portions mind. If you want the lot, you greedy bugger, you’ll need to syn an extra wrap – 4.5 syns. But really, it was almost too much for us, and we’re very confirmed fatties.

chilli stuffed easydillas

to make chilli stuffed easydillas you will need:

for the spice mix:

  • 1½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili flakes

for the sauce:

  • 300ml passata
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chili flakes

for everything else

  • 4 BFree Foods Multigrain Wrap, Wheat & Gluten Free (1x HeB per person) (don’t worry, they’ve left the taste in)
  • 400g minced beef (you get a fair few portions of 400g mince in our freezer filler deal with Musclefood, so why not take advantage? Eh? What’s your excuse? Click right here to take advantage of that before we change our deals!)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tins mixed bean salad, drained
  • zest of half a lime
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 30g grated reduced-fat cheddar (HeA)
  • 25g sliced black olives (2 syns)
  • 4 tsp quark

to make chilli stuffed easydillas you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  • in a small bowl mix together the ingredients for the spice mix and set aside
  • in a small saucepan heat the ingredients for the sauce together over a medium heat and stir frequently until thickened (this will be towards the end)  
  • meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and spray with Frylight
  • cook the onions for a few minutes until soft
  • add the beef and cook until browned
  • add the tomato puree to the pan along with the garlic and the spice mixture and stir well, remove from the pan into a large bowl 
  • using the same pan, add the mixed bean salad and allow to cook for a few minutes until warmed through
  • mash roughly – you can add a tbsp of water if it looks too dry – then remove from pan from the heat and set aside
  • spray another large frying pan with frylight and place over a high heat
  • add one of the tortillas to the pan and cook for 30 seconds – flip over and cook for another 40 seconds, then flip over again and cook for another thirty seconds 
  • place on a wire rack to cook and repeat the process for the rest of the wraps
  • spread half the bean mixture onto one of the wrap and top with half of the meat mixture – leave about a centimetre gap around the edge so it doesn’t seep out – and place another wrap on top. do this again for the other one
  • spoon 2 tbsp of the sauce on top of each wrap and top with the diced red onion, diced tomatoes cheese and olives
  • bake in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted
  • add 2 tsp of quark to the top and serve

 

lentil shepherd’s pie with cheesy mash

Looking for lentil shepherd’s pie? Scroll right down past all my guff if you don’t like chitter-chattter!


Just a boring bit of admin to get out of the way first before we get started. Apologies, I know some of you will have already seen this message, but just to make sure – we’re not an official Slimming World blog and we’re not consultants. We couldn’t be – I’d spend about five minutes asking people how much they’d lost and then fifty five minutes trying to crack jokes and farting. No, we’re just two members following the Slimming World plan the best we can – we work out the syns via the online calculator on Slimming World’s own website, but if you’re ever unsure, you should check them yourself.

Also, just a bit of clarification (partly because I got a snotty email yesterday from someone saying I didn’t need to write an essay before every recipe) – this is a personal blog, not a food recipe blog. I don’t itch during the day to rush home and type out a bloody roulade recipe, let me tell you. We’re just here as an excuse for me to write and to hopefully provide help for those who want it. Yes, we’re coarse and yes, we’re a bit blue and near-the-knuckle, but if you’re after a frilly fancypants fartyarse blog where someone spends two hours agonisingly describing every last boring step of their wonderful soup recipe, there’s plenty out there. We’re humans, not robots.

Remember, and this rather applies for all the Professionally Offended out there, you don’t need to read. That’s the joy of the internet!

So, that’s the admin out of the way. Being butch doesn’t really suit me, I’d look shit in a chest harness. Actually that’s a fib, I look great in leather. Like the last settee in the DFS sale.


twochubbycubs go to Iceland: part four

I wish I could tell you that we spent the day doing all sorts of thrilling things, but instead, we just mooched around the city, taking our time with food and nonsense. Listen, people who say they go on holiday and proceed to tell you they spent every waking moment doing activities, undertaking the local customs and enjoying the national food is an outright fibber. Sometimes you need to take it slowly, like a fibre-packed jobbie.

Having enjoyed ‘Escaping the Room’ once, we went back and tried the other two scenarios available – curing cancer and escaping a creepy haunted bedroom. I’ve never cured cancer, so of course we failed on that one, but we did manage to escape the bedroom, after somewhat embarrassing ourselves…

We walked from the hotel up to Reykjavik’s main shopping centre, Kringlan, partly because it was within stumbling distance and also because I needed to buy the most vile sweets I could find for the office. Not because I hate the people I work with, you understand, but simply because nothing says ‘GLAD TO BE BACK, LOL’ like salted liquorice balls that look, taste and smell like something you’d shovel out of a hamster cage.

Perhaps I’m spoiled by having the Metrocentre so near by (where retail goes to die), but it really wasn’t worth the trip. Perhaps due to the fact it’s an island, the ‘stock’ of stuff to buy seems to be very similar wherever you go. Once you’ve smiled politely at a stack of neon pigs or a collection of ashtrays, you’ve done your bit. We did find a shop called Minja which tickled us pink, though neither of us really fancied going in. We looked at it hard, but despite the many people entering it, we sloped off.

More interesting was the fact that Florence and Fred from Tesco seems to be rather big, where it is sold as a high-end range in a department store rather than the shameful secret in amongst the crisps and the beetroot faces as is the case over here. They even had shirts in our sizes, which was surprising given we normally have to buy our shirts from garden centres, but the fact they wanted the equivalent of £55 for a shirt I can buy (and hide under my groceries) for a tenner at home was too much to bear #tightarsegeordie (ah my former gaydar name).

After a bite to eat where they gave me a sandwich and took half of my salary as payment, we were on our way back to the hotel and onto grander things – a Northern Lights bus-tour. The sky didn’t look promising – thick cloud and low visibility. I was reminded of the air directly above Paul’s mother’s chair when she starts on her knockoff Rothmans. The bus driver said we should give a try anyway, so on we went to a very comfortable coach accompanied by around fifteen or so other folks.

We had chosen the deluxe tour, meaning we were to receive snacks, hot chocolate, a footrub and a personal apology from Jesus if the Northern Lights didn’t appear.  Sadly, we hit an immediate problem. See, on our tour a couple of days earlier, there had been a somewhat overbearing woman – the double of that wailing banshee from Everything But The Girl – who sat near us with her mother, and every time we stopped anywhere she’d drift over and attempt to make conversation.

Listen, I’ve got time for anyone, I really have, but deep down, I’m incredibly antisocial. My face screams talk to me, my mind is saying please die. Perhaps I exaggerate. Anyway, every single sentence she said was a really poor joke – it was like making polite conversation with a box of crackers – and then she did this really weird, far too familiar ‘lean’ into our personal space, perhaps to check the volume of our forced laughter.

And, of course, here she was again. Luckily, we had had the wherewithal to dump our bags on the seat in front of us, so she sat in front of those – champion, no talking needed. No, but every single quip, gag, remark or gasp that the chap commentating the tour made was met with her turning around and pushing her face inbetween the two seats to see if we were laughing. We started off with the polite smile and a ‘can he say that’ shake of the head, but we weren’t even out of Reykjavik before that had downgraded into a ‘stare straight ahead, don’t even acknowledge her’, the type of stance you might take if you’d stumbled across a man wanking in a phonebox.

Perhaps this comes across as mean, it really wasn’t meant to, but I stopped babysitting in my teens, I didn’t need it on my holiday.  She eventually got the message and stopped turning around, and we were able to concentrate on the fact the coach was busy barreling down a twisty, turny road in the snow and a very dramatic snow-storm. Excellent driving, absolutely, but I’m not going to claim my arse wasn’t busy unstitching the seat fabric through fear.

After an hour, we stopped off at this little restaurant in the middle of nowhere and were told that we’d be the first people to experience their new attraction, a quick movie about the aurora borealis. Bemused, we were shepherded into the arena where they usually put a live-action horse stunt show on and asked to take our seats – all twenty of us, in this little area that probably held 1,000.

The movie started, projected onto the back wall. And just didn’t finish. I love the Northern Lights as much as anyone, honestly, but it’s hard to maintain a rictus throughout half an hour of stolen footage from Youtube accompanied by Icelandic Enya caterwauling away in the background like she’s shitting out a pine-cone. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it was almost twenty minutes too long, and every time the screen went black and we thought it was finished, up it would start again, leading to a few more taxing minutes of footage of a wispy green cloud. It wouldn’t have been too bad if we had been sitting in proper seats instead of on long wooden boards, at least then we would have been comfortable, but no. It’s a bad job when someone has to turn you to prevent pressure sores halfway through.

We eventually stumbled back to the coach and were on our way into the night. The commentator mentioned that there had been a sighting of the lights on the other coastline, so we were to head there. Absolute fair play to the tour company, they weren’t going to give up – and I had free WiFi and a fully charged phone to keep me occupied. Paul had gone to sleep almost the second his seatbelt clicked on. There wasn’t much to see out of the window – a black cloudy sky above a bleak desolate landscape outside, much like driving through Southend during the day.

After another hour or two, the bus slid into a tiny village and attempted to reverse down a very steep, ice-covered gradient to our restaurant. That was soon stopped, and we were told we had to walk / slide down ourselves. We had been promised a meal to fill our bellies so naturally Paul and I were the first ones off the bus, sliding down the hill to certain satisfaction. Sadly, our weird friend was immediately behind us, and of course, naturally, without any doubt, sat at our table with her mother.

What followed was two things – almost an hour of unbearably awkward, strained conversation, and something that was definitely not a filling meal. The waiter came down to take our order, insofar as he drifted down, put some bread on our table and told us we were having soup. No choice. Meh, I don’t mind soup, and well, it was a restaurant, so how wrong could it go?

Very wrong. The vegetable soup looked like something our cat sicked up when we had her fanny butchered by the vet. It had the consistency (and taste) of one instant tomato soup sachet, divided between twenty. I poked around with a spoon to see if I could find anything to tax my teeth with and happened across one tiny cube of swede. Naturally, Bus-Friend piped up to express her jealousy that I’d at least found some vegetables HA-HA-HA and how I’d need ROLLING BACK UP THE HILL I’M THAT FULL HO-HO-HO. Being the gentleman, I resisted the urge to put her and her Connie Clickit haircut into her tomato water, and grimaced on. I expected dessert, a mint, hell, they could have spread some jam on the tablecloth and I would have gobbled it up, but no, that was it.

I will admit to something terrible, though. And this is terrible, mind, so please don’t think any worse of me after reading. Before we all decamped to the bus, we all got a chance to use the restaurant’s facilities. Naturally, there was only one tiny cubicle, and Paul and I were 9th and 10th in the queue respectively. There was an exceptionally posh lady behind me. Everyone went in and did their business and by the time I went in, there was piddle all over the seat and floor, and, putting paid to my plan for a quick poo, no loo roll to be seen.

Again, ever the gentleman, I didn’t want the lady behind me to think I’d pissed on the floor and seat, so I grabbed a little tiny grey towel that was sitting near the sink to mop it all up with. I hadn’t factored in that the water on the floor wasn’t piss but rather, piss mixed with the melted snow from so many shoes, and as soon as I used the cloth, it was covered in brown streaks and yellow stains on one side. Was there a bin? Of COURSE not. 

So, I did the only thing I could do, finished my piss and very gingerly folded the towel back up in such a way to hide the heavily streaked and piss-soaked side. And popped it back on the little radiator. There was literally nowhere else to put it other than down the toilet and well, I’m not a bastard, I didn’t want to block their toilet, not least because they’d have nothing to serve for dinner to the next unfortunate bastards who rocked up on the coach. I pity the poor madam who went to dab her lipstick or wash her face with that towel and got a load of pissy flannel in her face. I’m sorry, I really am. I’m not a monster.

I did cackle a tiny bit, I’m not going to lie.

With our hunger unsatisfied and our tummies rumbling, we headed back to the coach, drove on a bit and stopped in the middle of nowhere in a deserted carpark. Listen, I’ve been here enough times to know what was happening, but before I’d even had a chance to flash the reading light off and on and put my lip-balm on, we were off again, the driver sadly telling us there would be no chance of seeing the lights at this location. No, we needed to get higher.

I was all for that, though it’s been a while since I’ve skinned up anything more exciting than a social cigarette for a co-worker, but no, he meant going higher into the mountains. Bearing in mind it was pitch black, icy and knocking on past 10pm at this point, everyone reacted in quite a subdued manner. Bus-friend let out such a huge sigh that Paul and I deliberately voiced loudly our desire to go on. Hell, you’re only on holiday once. Or four times a year, in our case. On we went.

The next stop, knocking on at around midnight, was another carpark in the middle of nowhere. We got out, braced ourselves against the absolutely bitter and very strong wind, looked hopefully at the sky, but sadly, the clouds never quite parted. I did see a faint green ethereal glow in the distance, but it turned out to be the driver’s e-cigarette. The commentator opened up the side of the bus and, god bless him, pulled out the world’s flimsiest trestle table and a giant urn of hot water, announcing hot drinks were now available.

Crikey, what a comedy of errors. The wind was so strong that whatever he picked up, be it a paper cup, a sachet of whatever the Icelandic for Options is or the sugar, it either blew out of his hands or he spilt it. We watched from a distance before approaching. For giggles, I asked for a grande mocha frappucino with no cream, mint syrup and could he use soya, I’m lacto-tolerant. He looked like he was about to stick me in the tea-urn so I immediately gave him a gracious ‘BRITS ABROAD EH’ face and got back on the bus. Hmm. Paul eventually brought me a coffee and tutted at me.

Once everyone was on board and had been treated for their second-degree burns, it seemed inevitable that they’d call it a night…but no – one more roll of the dice. He knew a church with excellent viewing possibilities…on a clear night. I looked out of the window into the abyss and dozed for an hour, having drained my battery streaming fail videos on Youtube.

This is the bit where I tell you the bus pulled up, we got out and saw the best god-damn Northern Lights we’d ever seen.

Nope.

But we DID see them, for almost five minutes, albeit through the faint wisps of clouds barreling all over. It was like God, noticing our bus parked outside of the church (and er, if he existed), parted the clouds as best he could to make our almost seven hour journey worth it. It was. Not much can be said about the lights that you can’t imagine yourself, other than what will be obvious to you but didn’t occur to me until I saw them myself. They’re huge, and they’re silent. I was expecting a whoosh or a flutter, but nothing, although the wind would have covered anything. You can’t just look at them because they’re all around you, above you, and they’re magical. Worth seven hours on the bus with a cup of watery coffee and some instant soup? Yep. Worth dealing with a socially awkward lady? Yep. Recommended? Wholeheartedly. It’s something to tick off the list, for sure.

Once the clouds covered them up again, I went for a quick piss around the side of the bus. Sadly, thanks to the wind, it was like that moment in Apollo 13 where he vents his piss into outer space in a giant cloud. I’m a classy guy, what can I say.

The bus took us back to the hotel, with both Paul and I succumbing to the sweet caress of sleep on the journey home, which in turn meant no-one else would get a moment of rest thanks to the cacophonous snoring coming from the back. I’m surprised the driver didn’t pull over to see if he had a reindeer stuck under his tyres. We were back at the hotel for around 2.30am and straight to bed.

Listen – this might have come across as an awful experience, but it wasn’t, it was hilarious, and nothing but top marks to the tour company for so much effort in getting us to see the lights. Yes, the food was pap and the movie abysmal, but we’d do it all over again. There’s something genuinely romantic and exciting about chugging through the darkness in the hope of seeing something so wonderful!

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That’s enough for tonight. That really was a long one, I’m sorry! If you’re here for the recipe, welcome back! We adapted and made SW friendly a recipe from an old cookbook for this – Rose Elliot. We noticed we don’t have many vegetarian recipes on here, so this is a nice easy one that actually tastes really bloody good. It’s heavy-going to eat, so you don’t need a great lot. The recipe serves four.

lentil shepherd's pie

to make lentil shepherd’s pie you will need: 

  • 1kg potatoes, cut into even sized chunks
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 410g tin of green lentils, drained
  • 50g moon-blush tomatoes (we’ve made them before on a previous recipe, or, just use some dried sundried tomatoes brought back to life in hot water)
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 160g mature or smoked reduced fat cheese, grated (that’s four HEAs – these make enough for four, easily, so one HEA each)
  • salt and pepper
  • if you’re after the individual Pyrex dishes, we bought them from Amazon, right here

to make lentil shepherd’s pie you should:

  • preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
  • cook the potato in a large pan of boiling water until tender, keep aside a mug of the water, drain and set aside
  • heat a large pan over a medium heat and add a little oil
  • add the onions to the pan, stir and cover – cook for fifteen minutes and then remove from the heat
  • add the garlic, tomatoes, lentils, moon-blush tomatoes, tomato puree and salt and pepper to taste and stir well
  • mash the potatoes to your preferred consistency, loosening with a little of the reserved water and add most of the grated cheese, saving enough to scatter on the top
  • pour the lentil mixture into a shallow casserole dish and spread the mashed potato on top 
  • scatter the remaining cheese over the top and bake in the oven for 40 minutes

We served it with kale, Satan’s bumhair.

J