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

speedy breakfast bake

I’ll come to the speedy breakfast bake in a moment, but first…you may recall we went to Iceland? And well look, you know me, I can’t go to the toilet to drown an otter without writing a 2,000 word article about it. So, here’s the first of our Iceland entries. If you’re just here for the recipes and the sound of my voice in your head makes your skin crawl, just skip down to the photo. Philistine.

twochubbycubs go to Iceland: part one

We decided on Iceland for three reasons:

  • Corsica taught us that two fat men in very hot climates equals rashes, sweating and uncomfortable levels of public nudity;
  • it looks fantastically ethereal and unlike anywhere we’ve ever been before; and (perhaps crucially);
  • we envisioned the place being full of hairy, mountain men who could club a polar bear to death with their willies.

We actually almost ended up in Iceland three years ago but we had to cancel the trip to fund the remodelling of our kitchen – it was certainly more important, the place looked like a museum exhibit, all foisty and fussy from the previous old biddy who shuffled around in there. Broke our heart though to cancel for something so mundane, even if I do have a fabulous cerise stand mixer like old cokehead Lawson and a whole load of Le Creuset. Flash forward several years later and, after watching a ten minute video on Youtube, we had the whole holiday booked within ten minutes.

Fast forward to December, you know the drill. We shuttled our way up to Edinburgh and arrived at the hotel.

We ate a perfectly satisfactory (damning with faint praise) meal in the hotel bar, where we were served by an entirely lovely young waitress who baffled us with menu choices but steered us towards the money-saving options with aplomb. Clearly one look at our tattered shoes and my Donald Trump haircut elicited a sense of pity from her. She did respond to our chat about Iceland with a question we’d hear surprisingly often both before and after the holiday:

“Iceland…is it cold there?”

I mean the clue is in the name. I was faultlessly polite, resisting the urge to tell her that they only call it Iceland to lure unsuspecting penguins there to sell them timeshares, and demurred that it was indeed rather nippy. Perhaps she knew that as hard-bitten Geordies we only feel the cold when our heart stops and our fingers turn black.

That’s a faintly true stereotype – take a look out in Newcastle on a Friday night in winter and you’ll see plenty of bubbling and rippling masses wearing less material than I use to wipe my bum. Only when both sets of lips turn blue does the cough Prosecco get put down. Anyway, yes, we were asked many times if Iceland was cold to the point I developed a tic in my eye from inwardly wincing so much.

I wish I could say there was anything eventful to write about from finishing our meal through to getting on the plane, but no – it was the usual perfect Premier Inn service. I should be on bloody commission, I tell everyone about Premier Inn. Just saying, if you’re reading this PI, a free night in a London hotel wouldn’t go amiss. We don’t mind if Lenny Henry is in there, he looks like he’d be a cuddler. We did, however, manage to deviate from our normal practice of turning up at the airport eight days early ‘just in case’ by instead spending the day shopping in the salubrious Livingston Centre. I say shopping, we minced in, fannied about in the Le Creuset shop, bought a salt pig and a honey pot and then walked around looking at all the shops that cater for people of less corpulent frames than us. We decided to have a game of mini-golf in Paradise Island. Paradise Island? More like Hepatitis Inlet. No I’m sorry, I’ve been to America and I’ve seen how they do mini-golf over there – carefully crafted courses, erupting volcanoes, accessibility ramps for the fatwagons. What do we get? A shoddy animatronic of Paul’s mother appearing out of a crate of MDF, a vinyl recording of a door creaking and some torn artificial grass. I felt like I was having a round of golf in an abandoned IKEA. We plodded around with all the enthusiasm of the terminally bored, finished under par and didn’t dare have a pop at the ‘WIN A FREE GAME’ final hole in case we were actually victorious.

Unusually, we did manage to get lost on the way to the airport carpark – we normally have an excellent sense of direction, but somehow we missed the giant planes swarming around over our head. I pulled over to ask someone for directions and I’ve genuinely never stared into such an empty face. I asked for directions to the airport and he gazed at me like I was speaking tongues. My exasperated eyes met his watery eyes for a moment or two, then, realising he was clearly as thick as the shite that killed Elvis, we barrelled away in the car. He was still stooped over ‘looking at the car’ as we turned a corner 100 yards away, somewhat ironically onto the right roundabout for the airport. Ah well. It’ll have given him something to use his brain for other than absorbing the wind.

Having parked the car in a car-park that looked exactly like the type of place you’d see on Watchdog where they tear your cars up and down the country, touching everything with oily hands and merrily hacking up phlegm into the secret camera, we were on our way. I told Paul to ‘remember where we had parked’ and he replied with ‘Berwick upon Tweed’. He does come out with the jokes occasionally you know. Edinburgh Airport remains as charmless as ever, with the only place to eat that didn’t necessitate filling out a loan application being the little Wetherspoons up by the gate. I had four gins and a tonic, Paul had a beer and after only an hour or so, we were boarding the plane. I’ve typed many words about the way people board planes so I won’t bother you with them now, but for goodness sake, the pilot isn’t going to set away early, you don’t need to crowd on like they’re giving out blowjobs and cocaine. Bastards.

The flight was uneventful but packed – the mass wearing of winter clothes meant everyone took up slightly more room than normal and the air was soon steamy with sweat. To squeeze past someone in the aisle involved so much personal intimacy that I automatically lubed myself up. Lovely. I can handle flying but struggle with feeling boxed in, so I just shut my eyes and dozed for the two hours it takes to travel from Edinburgh to Reykjavik. Being the caring sort I also kept hold of the iPad just in case, but it did mean poor Paul had nothing to do other than gaze at the cornflakes of dandruff gently falling off the scalp of the slumbering mass in front. I’m a sod, I know.

Oh, there was a moment of interest when the overhead cabin across from us starting leaking something at quite an alarming rate, necessitating the decampment of the passenger immediately below the leak into the only spare seat available on the plane. Seems sensible? No. The woman (who was somewhat…large) next to the vacant seat kicked up such a stink that the stewardess had kick up a stink in return, and a veritable hiss-off occurred – too much make-up vs too much circumference. How selfish can you be, though, to make someone sit under a dripping leak for two hours? I feel guilty just making Paul sleep in the cuddle puddle after sex. Don’t think us gays have a wet patch? You’re wrong, though ours is mainly lube to be fair. Still, makes getting up for an early-morning piss that much easier when you can just slide to the bathroom like Fred in the Flintstone’s opening credits.

Also, I’m no expert on aircraft, despite all my many hours of sitting slackjawed in front of Air Crash Investigation watching reconstructions of plane crashes brought to vivid life via the graphics card of a Nintendo 64, but is a major leak not worrisome? Surely water sloshing around amongst the electrics is a VERY BAD THING. The stewardess opened the locker, moved around a couple of the many bags crammed in there then decreed the leak to be a mystery. A mystery! That helped my anxiety – I had visions of it being hydraulic fluid or jet fuel and us being mere moments away from landing via someone’s front room on the Shetland Isles. I still don’t like getting up for a piss on the plane because I’m worried I’ll upset the balance. A rational mind I do not have. We landed safely, obviously, and the leak was plugged by about 1000 blue paper towels. Keep it classy, Easyjet.

Let’s be fair, actually – easyJet continue to be fantastic to fly with. I have no problems with a company that will fly me around Europe for less money than I pay for my weekly parking ticket in Newcastle. Everyone from their check-in staff to the onboard team always seem to be smiling, and as a nervous passenger, that really helps. Their planes are comfy, although I noted with alarm that I wasn’t too far off needing a seatbelt extension. Not that there’s any shame in that, but I’d sooner be strapped onto the roof and flown that way than ask across a crowded cabin for a bungee-cord sized seatbelt. I’m shy!

We touched down into Keflavík Airport in the early evening and, yes, it was cold. Bloody cold – minus one or two degrees. The airport is small as it only serves a few flights a day in winter, and we were through security and bag-drop in no time. You know the drill by now – I had to wait ten minutes whilst Paul dashed into a toilet and released his Christmas log. Any airport, any time. I think the air pressure changes associated with flying does something to his bowels – I can genuinely count the seconds from getting our bag off the conveyor to Paul turning to me with an ashen face clutching his stomach and bemoaning that he needs to go for a crap. Some people tie fancy socks to their suitcase or have a favourite towel to take on holiday as tradition – my holiday tradition is looking furiously at the closed door of a gents toilet.

As Keflavík Airport is around thirty miles from the centre of Reykjavic, you’ll need to take a bus or hire a car. I didn’t fancy Princess Diana-ing my way through the icy roads, so we opted for the bus. It’s all terribly simple and you don’t need to book in advance, rather just bustle your way to the ticket office, purchase a ticket and step aboard the idling bus, which then takes you to your hotel. It’s all exceptionally civilised. One of the many good things about Iceland is that it doesn’t seem to attract the SKOL-ashtray-and-red-shoulders brigade, so you’re not stuck on a bus hearing fifty different English accents bellow about lager and tits for an hour. Good. 

We were dropped off at the Grand Hotel first, and as it was pitch-black outside, we decided to stay in the room to drain our swollen feet and order room service. I tried to order something Icelandic but the closest we could see was a SKYR cheesecake. Oh imagine the pains. I did my usual hotel trick of hiding in the bathroom when they bring all the trays of food in so that Paul looks like a giant fatty, though I was fairly restrained this time – I didn’t make my usual ‘straining’ noises from behind the door.

Stuffed full of food and tired from all the sitting down, we were off to sleep in no time, accompanied by the only English channel we could find – Sky News. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t watch Sky News if a nuclear bomb was stuck up my arse and they were telling me how to defuse it, but you know, needs must.

Gosh now look at that. All that writing and we’re not even out in Iceland proper yet. That’ll come in the next entry. Anyway, tonight’s recipe. Those who are lost in mirth and reverie, get yourself together. 

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This speedy breakfast bake is easy enough to make – actually, ridiculously so. Not going to lie, this isn’t our recipe, it’s actually taken from another blog, found here. We were so taken by it that we adapted it slightly for Slimming World. If you’ve got a spiraliser, you’ve FINALLY got a bloody use for it. Mind, if you don’t have a spiraliser (and you can buy a cheap one RIGHT HERE), don’t shit the bed, you can just grate the sweet potato instead. This sits well – take some the next day for work.

speedy breakfast bake

to make speedy breakfast bake, you’ll need:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated finely – use a spiraliser if you have one, it makes it easier – just have it on a fine setting
  • 12 egg whites (see tip below – you don’t need to clart about seperating eggs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 120ml of skimmed milk (take it from your HEA allowance or syn it – 100ml is two syns)
  • 80g of extra mature but reduced fat cheddar cheese (two HEA choices, remember this easily serves four)
  • as much spinach as you like, but aim for two big handfuls at the least
  • a few bacon medallions (I have an idea: use the bacon from our Musclefood deal! It’s good value and cheap as chips)

Right, the eggs – that’s a lot of eggs and you’re going to have a lot of yolk – we bought these instead from Tesco:

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Much easier! Used about 4/5 of it, and chucked the rest into a pan for an omelette the next day.

and to make speedy breakfast bake, you should:

  • preheat the oven up to 180 degrees and line a decent square tin (or any tin, I’m not going to write a letter to the council about you) with greaseproof paper or a squirt or two of frylight
  • dry fry off the bacon and chop it up
  • mix everything together in a big old bowl, tip into the tin and cook for around an hour (check it doesn’t burn) until it’s completely cooked through
  • leave to stand for ten minutes just to cool off and firm up
  • slice and serve! 

We served ours with a side salad, but the fact that this has spinach in it already makes it a super healthy breakfast or dinner.

Enjoy!

J


Remember, if you’re a fan of our writing, and if you want to read our travel tales from Germany, Corsica and Ireland, you can find them all in our new book! 

 

twochubbycubs and their German adventure – part 3

There’s a bit in an old episode of Absolutely Fabulous where Edina goes into her kitchen and selects a bottle of champagne from a chiller cabinet, only for it to be replenished like the machine that replaces the pins in a bowling alley. It’s pretty much like that with our freezer and Ben and Jerry’s at the moment. I get rid of one, only to find Paul has managed to go to ASDA, restock and be sat back down on the settee without me blinking. Peculiar. Well it is Christmas…back to Germany!

We woke up the next morning with a tightly packed schedule and we were mincing down Karl Marx Allee in no time at all with a view to visiting the Videogame Museum. Paul tried to engage me with tales of socialist architecture and other nonsense but he possibly assumed from my glazed over eyes, deep sighs and putting a hand over his mouth, that I wasn’t interested. We had an agonising problem of where to have breakfast, given there was only a McDonalds (reasons to decline: not on holiday! Never on holiday! We have to eat somewhere local, we’re on holiday and we’re not that type of tourist!) or an art gallery café (we’re not hipster enough! I don’t have pieces of lace in my beard! They’re going to serve our coffee with a side of scorn and the toast will be organic carpet-toast spread with derision!) – we settled on the café. Breakfast in Germany is amazing – you essentially get all of the fat-bastard level of the food pyramid in one go – bread, meat, jam and cheese. She did put a token bit of rocket on the side but we ignored that – we’re on holiday, if I’m not having mild palpitations by 11am then something is wrong.

The Videogame Museum was great fun, full of interactive old computer systems and rare controllers. It will sound as boring as all outdoors to someone who isn’t into gaming, but for us two fatties it was smashing. Only thing was, it was overrun with children, which immediately creates two feelings – rage and worry. Rage because I’m a selfish adult who has forgotten he was a child once and immediately starts scowling and hissing at the children pressing the wrong buttons with their sticky hands, and worry because I’m always terrified that the parents will think I’m a nonce if I’m loitering near their children with a barely disguised grimace on my face. On top of that, I have an irrational dislike of anyone playing computer games ‘incorrectly’ – I once had to go for a lie down after trying to explain Tetris to my nana who was waving around the DS like she trying to land a failing Messerschmitt at sea.

At the videogame museum was something called the Painstation. Essentially, it’s a two player game of Pong, where you hold a knob (steady) and keep your other hand on a small metal plate. If you lose a ball on Pong, your other hand either gets an electrical shock, a small burn (the plate heats up) or whipped by a strap of elastic. It’s sadistic, cruel, unusual and, worse than that – it was out of bloody order! I was gutted. Paul wasn’t, because he knew I’d kick his arse at Pong and he’d end up with a Jeremy Beadle hand through all the whipping. Ah that’s cruel, I always liked Jeremy Beadle – and say what you like, at least he could always get the last few Pringles out of the tube. So who had the last laugh?

After the museum it was a short hop, skip and a jump – well, meander, struggle and chafe – to the DDR museum, where we spent an hour or so examining the exhibits and pondering thoughtfully on the challenging existence in East Germany. Paul did, at least. I spent an hour picking up the big black phone on the desk and pretending I was on Deal or no Deal and then tutting at people for climbing inside the model Trabant they had on show. Honestly have these people got no respect?

A donut and coffee followed then we were off to the Sealife centre and in particular, the giant Aquadom nearby. We spent a good ten minutes being complimented on our English by the German lady on the counter and then forty minutes or so trying to get a good picture of a stingray. Are we the only people who come back from these places with hundreds of shite photos of fish that get deleted on the plane home? I’m not sure what makes me think I’ll need an encyclopaedic collection of blurred photos of marine life on my phone but I’m always compelled to snap away whenever I’m somewhere like that. My photography skills are shit – it looks like Ray Charles has been on photographic duty. I might take a course – but I probably won’t, I’m lazy. Anyway, the Aquadom is a giant aquarium in the shape of a tube, and you get in a great glass lift and travel up the middle.

I was a bit disappointed, I’m not going to lie. It sounds great fun, but in reality, you’re looking at about two thousand fish in a tank whilst riding a lift. Meh. We almost booked the hotel surrounding the aquarium but I’m glad we didn’t – the last thing I want is someone peering out the glass lift and seeing me drying my arse in my hotel room, the size of which is all distorted thanks to being viewed through water.

We broke our rule of eating ‘local’ afterwards, taking a late lunch in a place called Andy’s nearby, which promised German/American food at decent prices. It was packed, and at least I had a German beer and sauerkraut with my meal – Paul inexplicably ended up having an entirely not German nor American pork gyros with fried onions. Delicious meal and thanks to the pickled cabbage I barely had to walk to our next destination, instead choosing to hover gently down the street.

Next, the Berlin Dungeon. I was expecting little, but it was actually pretty decent, as long as you like seeing rough looking women pitching around in the dark with blood on their face and sores on their legs, with the scent of faeces and death in the air. Well, I’m from Newcastle, it was just like being at home. The whole experience was made brilliant by the Scottish women who were with us, who, when the lights dipped, shouted loudly ‘AH’MA GONNA SHITE MYSELF’. Even the actors cracked up at that one. Also, I’m not sure ‘YOU’LL CUM BLOOD’ was supposed to be on the script during the plague section, but everyone’s eyebrows raised in a very British unison. Actually, that’s an aside – I’ve always associated Germany with sheer, unadulterated filth – it was always the German couple who used to get their hairy tackle out on Eurotrash back in the day, for example – but there was zero hardcore pornography on their TV channels after 10pm. I was very surprised!

We finished off the night by enjoying a meal in Nocti Vagus – a completely dark restaurant – you eat in the pitch black and are waited upon by blind or almost blind waiting staff. It was…unique! You choose your menu in the bar upstairs, do a veritable conga down into the dark, and then spend two hours enjoying your meal in the dark. I’m far too suspicious that people were pinching my food in the dark, and the temptation to hurl a meatball in the dark was strong, but we were on our best behaviour and came out of it feeling slightly dizzy (because you have nothing to focus on for two hours) and satisfied we’d enjoyed ourselves. The show that comes after the meal was a bit ropey, but…you’ve had a meal in a pitch black restaurant! At least that’s cool.

two chubby cubs go to Germany! Part 2

Tonight we’re having chicken wrapped in parma ham – recipe here! Mind you, we’re not having it with crunchy cabbage, no, we’re having it with a shitload of chips. Might be reet common and put mayo all over the top. I want to waffle on a wee bit more about Germany, so…part 2!

My last entry stopped as we ventured out into Berlin, and right outside of our hotel was a Christmas market, one of many we’d end up visiting. Christmas markets in the UK don’t compare – full of tat, tarpaulin and crap food. In Germany, the stalls are wooden, heavily decorated and full of nice trinkets. It was here that we tried our first currywurst, which everyone raves about. Meh – it’s sausage, chips and tomato sauce with curry sprinkled on the top! Delicious yes, but not as exciting as I was expecting! We kept seeing stalls selling Glühwein and, not knowing what it was, we ordered some.

Fucking vile. It was mulled wine, and I can’t bear red wine at the best of time, but this felt like I was drinking warmed through Radox. We took a polite sip in front of her, went round the back of the stall and dropped the rest down the drain, where I can only imagine it’s burnt its way through the sewage pipes and caused an incident. We couldn’t face going back and giving back our empty cups, so that mistake cost €12! BOO! She did give us a smirk on the way back around too, the cow.

Looming large over Alexanderplatz was Berlin’s TV Tower, so we wandered over to that. A few Euros later and we were speeding in a fantastic quick lift up to the panaroma view floor, 666ft in the air, allowing you to look over Berlin. Here we did experience a bit of an odd thing – the terse German! He asked if we were English and when we confirmed, he looked at us as though I’d broken into his house on Christmas day and shit on the turkey. At least the lift was fast and we were at the top in no time. Naturally, we immediately ordered the gayest possible drinks we possibly could – when the barman takes ten minutes to make a cocktail and it has three seperate fruits adorning it (and two fruits drinking it), you know it’s camp. It was beautiful at the top of the tower – Berlin bustling below, all the Christmas lights and decorations twinkling away and spreading out for miles. It was like the Blackpool tower, only you’re not looking out over a vista of tattooed seacows playing bingo and a sewage pipe pouring into the Irish Sea. Thanks to the sheer amount of alcohol in our drinks, the view got a bit wobbly, so we dashed back out.

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Not the best photo… I know.

Another Christmas market followed – lovely yes, but it caused a bit of a row. Well row is a strong word. We spotted an animal being led around a little paddock, and I was adamant that it was a horse. Paul said a donkey. We didn’t know the German for either.

donkey

The bloody thing had horse ears! I took a picture but apparently this isn’t the beast that caused an argument. I did exclaim loudly that THERE MIGHT NOT BE A DONKEY BUT THERE’S CERTAINLY A FAT ASS, but, having realised I’d gone too far, I spotted a ferris wheel and whisked Paul onto it as a distraction.

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I have no fear of heights, but I’m not particularly keen on fairground rides – for example, I’ll happily ride any rollercoaster until I stroke-out and have to be carried out the park on a stretcher, but I don’t trust anything that can be assembled overnight from inside of a truck by someone with yellow fingers and a breezy understanding of basic health and safety. Nevertheless, I duly climbed on board, all the way focussing on the rusty bolts, creaking metal and peeling paint like I was about to have some sort of Final Destination episode. Would that bolt come loose, fall 70ft, strike the horse-donkey, who would then kick the ride operator spark out, who’d fall on the safety console, somehow disengaging the wheel lock and send us freewheeling merrily down the Alexanderplatz, culminating with me being wedged in a chestnut warmer where my previously inhaled sip of Glühwein would ignite inside of me, blowing me up like an especially Christmassy suicide bomber?

No.

But we DID ruin some poor lad’s date, I reckon. He clearly thought he and his little slip of a girlfriend were going to get a ferris capsule all to themselves and was in for a good few minutes of ‘checking the depth’, as it were, until us fatties bailed into the capsule shouting about bloody horse-donkeys and making the whole thing shake like the Apollo Service Module coming back to Earth. He spent the ten minutes of the ride giving us shitty looks. I don’t know what the Latvian is for ‘SILLY FAT BASTARD’ but he clearly didn’t know what eyebrow-threading was so I reckon that puts us about even.

After the ferris wheel, we had to make our way over to something called Exit Game Berlin, which we had prebooked before we set off on holiday. Essentially, this was a live version of those ‘Escape the Room’ games you get on the Internet (or, fact-fans, those early ‘Mental’ games on The Crystal Maze) where you solve clues hidden the room and work out how to escape (or in our case, how to stop a crazy Berliner poisoning the water supply – gasp!). We confidently set out, armed with a map on how to get there and the correct underground lines. Well goodness me if we didn’t end up in a rough part of Berlin. I’m terrible on holiday – I’m so fearful of having my wallet/phone/bits and pieces stolen that I’m on a constant cycle of checking my trouser pockets, coat pockets, shirt pockets – and I’m not exactly subtle about it – I end up walking down the street like I’m doing the world’s slowest Macarena. Nevertheless, we eventually found the place – it was a tiny, tiny little door in the middle of the street which we promptly knocked on.

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No answer. Knocked again. No answer. So, thinking it was part of the ‘clue’, we spent a good five minutes checking for hidden buttons, cameras, knockers…until the guy came to the door, asked who we were, and told us we were in entirely the wrong place and that we needed to be on the other side of town at a different escape game. A fifteen minute taxi ride later, during which I felt like Princess Diana getting sped through tunnels and through traffic (I winced when I saw a Fiat Uno – I thought it was the end), we were there.

And, forgive me, it was FUCKING amazing. A proper room set up like a kitchen, but with crazy pipes everywhere, chains, hidden boxes, UV writing, secret codes, a telephone. You’re locked in (well not locked in, but that’s part of the game) and there’s a big clock in the corner counting down from 60 minutes. You have an hour to complete the task. Someone is watching you and can give you clues if you get stuck, but, although it’s difficult, you can just about do it in an hour – we did! We came away from the experience thinking it was bloody fantastic, and it truly was – worth going to Berlin just for that! There’s one opened up in Newcastle which we’re looking into, but it costs £60! Christ.

Given it was knocking on to midnight at this point, we made our way back to the hotel, stopping only for a quick glass of schwipp-schwapp (Coke with Orange, who knew) and another currywurst.

Oh, forgot to say, we saw this just in the middle of the street whilst we were wandering around. Germany has the right idea!

dildo

…more to come next time! THAT’S THEIR SLOGAN.

J