carrot, swede and potato soup

Because that’s when good neighbours become good friends!

I can’t quite believe Neighbours is still going, let alone celebrating 30 years on the air. I was always a Home and Away man myself, partly because as a fat child I couldn’t be bothered getting up to turn the channel over after Fun House. I remember the great disasters like it was yesterday – the big flood, the earthquake, Evil Ailsa, telling my mum she looked like Irene who used to run the diner. Good times! I spotted the 30th anniversary trailer for Neighbours before on TV and I’m happy to confirm that yes, I DO still look like Harold. Mind, that would make Paul Madge, so that really quite tickles me.

Oh, speaking of being tickled, I’ve had a great ten minutes. See, we use something called Spotify which allows you to listen to thousands and thousands of different music tracks. All very exciting. We’ve got Premium which means you can access your playlists on the move and Paul’s phone syncs his music through his car. However, I’ve learned that I can log in from home and change the music playing in his car whilst he’s out and about. Anyway, he’s out driving people to a young Marxist meeting, and I’ve been making all sorts play in the car (Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel by Tavares, Lovin’ You by Minnie Ripperton and my personal favourite, Can You Feel The Love Tonight from The Lion King). His response was a smidge curt:


Eee, I hope he doesn’t kiss his mother with that mouth. Although that would explain his stubble burn.

Anyway, yes, Neighbours – or indeed neighbours, was what has been on my mind.

When Paul and I first started shagging ‘going steady’, we moved into a flat on Newcastle’s Quayside, seduced by the fabulous views of a concrete factory and the Millennium bridge. It was lovely but the entire block of flats were taken up by the kind of pretentious, rah-rah-rah knobheads who we both loathe with a passion. We had a homeless man living in the bin store, shitting everywhere, and someone set up a ‘collection point’ for him. Now, I’m a liberal guy, I really am, but I don’t want to tread in human shit every time I put my bins out. It’s not a lot to ask. Our neighbour downstairs used to have cracking arguments with his girlfriend mind which provided much hilarity until we thought he had belted her and so we called the police. They never talked to us again after that. Well, briefly – Paul had been drying some boxer shorts on the balcony when the wind caught a particularly well-worn pair and blew them over the edge and sadly, because the girlfriend of the lad downstairs was out smoking on her balcony, they landed right on the top of her head. She thought we had done it deliberately and launched an absolute torrent of abuse, we probably didn’t help by shutting the balcony door and screaming with laughter. Oh dear. We only lasted two years there before moving out, with the prevalent memory of the place being the black suede headboard in the master bedroom. Well, it wasn’t black when we left, let me tell you. It looked like a Jackson Pollock painting – what can I say, we were young and keen in those days, and who the fuck chooses black suede as a headboard? Frankly, we needed something laminated.

We then moved to Gosforth into a Tyneside flat, which was slightly less salubrious but a lot more homely. The only problem was our neighbour upstairs, who came down for a vodka when we moved in and then turned completely mad. She was the type who’d happily clatter around on her cheap lino in her best Primarni heels when she rolled in at 3am with that night’s bus-stop encounter gelling on her thigh, but would hammer on the floor and yell about the noise if I so much as yawned. For a good few weeks we crept about underneath like the fucking Borrowers, which was incredibly difficult for two twenty stone blokes to do, before realising that we weren’t being unreasonably noisy, she was, and that we should really get our revenge. Lucky, that was fairly easy.

In our bedroom was a grand, open fireplace which had been somewhat shoddily sealed off by someone putting a slab of stone just above the grate. Her bedroom, immediately above ours, shared the same chimney. Sound was usually muffled thanks to the stone but, after we moved it slightly, we were able to get up to all sorts of mischief. We’d wait until we knew she was in bed, move the stone a tiny bit, and fart up the chimney. As I said before, we are big blokes, and frankly, we fart like bulls at the best of times, but we used to store them up to the point of stomach pains just so we could blow them up the chimney. It must have sounded like someone was practicising the tuba in the chimney stack, especially given how the sound would amplify. We’d also make off-putting sex noises if she had anyone round and, in what I think was the most inspired move, we played a load of Roy Walker sound-clips (like Chris Moyles’ Car Park Catchphrase) when she had her mother around. She moved out about a month afterwards and silence fell. When she left, we felt able to tidy up the patch outside the house, and planted lots of nice flowers which was grand until the snooty moo to the left of us came downstairs and criticised our cheap pots. Cheap! We were on a budget back then, and anyway, it was the rougher end of Gosforth, not bloody somewhere posh. Our retalliation was swift – we went to Poundland, bought all manner of garish gnomes, plastic frogs, tatty windmills and other such flimflam until our garden looks like a roadside memorial to a boy-racer. She never talked to us after that, although I drove past the flat the other day and there’s still a god-awful, sun-bleached frog in the front garden so whoever has the house now must have THE worst taste ever.

Finally, we moved to our current house, and it’s perfect – why? Because we’re a detached bungalow!

Speaking of perfect blends, here’s a soup recipe. YES! YES I DID A GOOD SEGUE FOR ONCE!


Look, there’s no way to make that look alluring or inviting, but it tasted good and couldn’t have been simpler to make. No really, it couldn’t. I bought a prepared soup veg mix from Tesco, where the carrot, swede, potato and onion were all cut up. I threw it all in my soup maker with 600ml of chicken (you could use vegetable) stock, some garlic, salt and pepper, pressed a button, came here to type out the bit above and I’d barely stopped chuckling and clutching my sides when it beeped ready. A quick blend – in the same machine – and we were done. Served! You can buy the same soupmaker as the one I use right here. Somewhat annoyingly, it’s reduced from £140 to £90. Worth getting? I think so. It took less than one minute to prepare the soup, 30 minutes to cook and a moment to blend. Plenty of superfree in there too. Very rare that I think a kitchen gadget is worth the money but I would actually recommend a soup maker. If you get one, why don’t you try tomato, fennel and feta soupsuper speedy ‘just like Heinz’ tomato soupsuper speed soupcabbage, kidney bean and sausage soupkale, spinach and broccoli and pesto soup or onion soup.

Enjoy all!