The idea of cheesy bananas on toast is either going to have you licking both sets of lips and taking yourself off to the bathroom for some ‘me’ time or dry-heaving into your elbow and taking yourself off to the bathroom to have a calm-down-poo. Either way, you’re getting the recipe right here and right now and for once, I promise, there shall be no prattling on. Straight to business.
Well, no, not quite, I do need to clarify that I haven’t (as variously suggested on Facebook):
suffered a head injury (well, he sometimes scrapes it with his teeth, but that’s not important right now);
become pregnant (not for the want of trying, but again, that’s not important right now); or
given up on life (not whilst I’ve got joy in my heart and a decent life insurance on Paul).
See, in amongst all the free copies of our cookbooks on our shelves, which I absolutely must get round to giving away, we’ve got some proper old classics. Books from a time where it was considered acceptable to suggest rock cakes were for the boys of the family and women shouldn’t occupy their thoughts any further than what to cook Father when he returned from a gruelling 36 hour shift clipping t’children round t’ear down t’asbestos-and-cigarettes mine. There’s a certain homeliness to a lot of the recipes and if it wasn’t for the dangerously high levels of offal in seemingly everything, or the tendency to suspend anything you could possibly imagine in aspic (and mind I haven’t seen good aspic since I deleted my Growlr account), we’d give most of them a go. Indeed, part of the new ideas for the blog is to dig out some long-forgotten gems and hence this banana and cheese beauty was born.
My favourite of all our old books is ‘A Pleasure to Cook’ by Sonia Allison (though, clearly without the steer of a good proof-reader, the spine simply reads ‘A Pleasure to Cook Sonia Allison’ – you’d hope she wouldn’t mind) (thank goodness the book wasn’t called Eating Out) – it’s awash with all sorts of nonsense but the best recipe is for a simple sandwich called ‘The Man About Town’. She’s clearly taken leave of her senses at this point, stuck a bit of bread down with some lettuce and then whacked a full back joint of roast chicken with legs attached on top, before sitting another slice of bread on top. To add to the fanciness she suggests sticking a ‘cutlet frill’ on the end of the legs, which mystified me immensely. My idea of a cutlet thrill is not looking behind me when I walk down an alley at night, but no, turns out it’s those frou-frou paper caps you stick on the end of the bone, like the world’s least-effective condom.
A bit more of a dive into the world of Sonia Allison reveals she was also the author of ‘Microwave for One’ which features possibly the most depressing cookbook cover you can imagine:
I mean, haway. You just want to reach in and tell her everything will be OK, don’t you? I’m not sure what troubles me more: the dinner setting for one, the you-know-it’ll-be-her-fourth glass of pomaine or the fact she has set the microwave across from her on the table so she can stare into the abyss whilst she eats. I imagine it’s how she set her hair. Not going to lie, I absolutely want this book to try and recreate a recipe for this blog, so if you have it at home and you can find it under your eighty-seven cats, please do drop me a line and I’ll happily take it off your hands.
Anyway! Here we find ourselves 600 words in and without a recipe, so let’s get to it.
If you’re going to accuse me of posting this cheesy bananas on toast purely to show off my fancy Le Creuset side-plates you’d be absolutely bang on.
The cheesy bananas on toast is actually genuinely delicious – so please do try!
If you're still not sure, let me talk you through this: sweet and salty go together very well - so it stands to reason that cheese and banana should work. But this absolutely won't work with that crappy plastic cheddar from the corner shop, you need extra mature cheddar, preferably the stuff with tiny salt crystals in.
If you like all the constituent parts of the recipe, then give it a go. You can sack off the tomatoes if you're a fan - swap them out for chopped chives.
We have worked the calories out via the NHS app at roughly 240 calories, but of course it depends on the size of your banana and the brand of your bread. So do make sure to double check.
two slices of wholemeal toast
one medium banana, mashed
25g of extra-mature cheese
a handful of cherry tomatoes
listen, I'm not gonna fib - I sort of feel if you need a recipe here, you might need to swap us out for Sonia Allison's Microwave for one, but nevertheless:
toast your bread
top with mashed banana
top with grated cheese
top with chopped cherry tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt
grill until golden brown, texture like sun
controversially, Paul doesn't toast his bread before putting it under the grill, but you must understand that this way lies ruin and should you really trust a man who can watch both players on a tennis match at once? No I think not
our second book sold like absolute hot-cakes, which is no surprise when you look at how much we all love a cake - it gets excellent reviews and you can do no better, trust me: order yours here!
a plea: if you have bought any of our books, please do take a moment to leave a review on Amazon, we will love you forever and it helps us out so much
the first book is a bit cheaper and still an incredible bible if you're looking to lose weight with delicious recipes: click here to order
our planner will help you on your way - loads of space to keep track of your weight loss and lovely pictures of us to be getting on with: here
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Listen I’m going to level with you: I have spent upwards of eighty-seven seconds trying to come up with a more alluring name than ‘cheesy eggy crumpets’ because frankly, that sounds like something you’d go to the doctor and get a cream prescribed for. And I should know, I’m at the doctors that much of late that they’ve given me a loyalty card. I’m one visit away from a free colonoscopy and I can’t wait. But, in my defence, the title of the recipe conveys exactly what these are and whilst I could doubtless gussy things up with a sexy adjective or two, I’m not about that life. If you like eggy-bread and you’re not a total trypophobic fanny like me, then these crumpets will make for a good breakfast. Or indeed, brunch: it’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it’s a damn good meal!
But, as is our way, we couldn’t possibly get straight to the recipe for these cheesy eggy crumpets because I’ve got something to say. See, I’ve been gallivanting: once I realised that the dog was small enough to shut into a kitchen drawer and quiet enough so as to not wake the neighbours with his howling, freedom was once more mine. As someone who gets itchy feet if his car hasn’t clocked 1000 miles in a week, it’s been a tense few weeks. I had a couple of days holiday to use up with work and, as my dear husband was toiling at work himself, I trotted off to visit Manchester with my mate. For the ease of your reading, I shall henceforth refer to him as Paul: for that is his name. Imagine a dystopian Humpty Dumpty fell into an extruder and you’re most of the way there with the visual.
Ever fearful of driving in strange cities, I set off for Manchester eight days before I was due and made it to the city centre Premier Inn with four hours to spare. Unusually for me, I navigated almost entirely without incident and therefore have nothing to report. I did have to leave my car in one of those car-parks which almost guarantees you’ll return to your car to find four skid-marks where you had previously parked, though I can cheerfully tell you the only skidmark actually came the next day when I went to pay. Premier Inn were courteous enough to give me a room overlooking a gushing canal lock which did wonders for my other phobia of water and machinery, but I was won over by the fact it had a fancy coffee machine to play with. I do love a nespresso – a thimble full of bitterly strong coffee and the chance to flood the serving tray – I enjoyed both. I watched The Chase, picked my bum and then went to find my mate.
Usually, if it was me and my husband, you’d be treated to a 2,000 word recap of the lift down to the reception and another 6,000 words, delivered eight months later, on the time Paul tied his shoelaces. But, forever ringing the changes, I’m going to keep the minutia to myself and tell you the standout points.
The Escape Van
Long-time readers will know that we bloody love escape rooms and so when I found an escape room that comes to you, it had to be done. The premise is simple: a converted Transit van parks near to your accommodation, you get locked inside and you have sixty minutes to escape. I clearly misread the instructions given I turned up with my own cable-ties and bag of sweets but nevertheless, the games-Master was marvellous in the face of our shrieking. Of course, me being me, I pointed out that when the van door was pulled open, the logo of THE ESCAPE VAN became ‘APE VAN’ and fell into fits of giggles. He did mention that others had brought this to his attention but most went for the cleaner option. He shut us in and we spent a merry time solving clues and figuring out how to escape. It was a bloody clever use of space with some very efficient puzzles, although of course all of the fun tactile ones I got to enjoy watching being solved from the sidelines: I’m forever the deuteragonist in my own story, me. We solved the room with many minutes to spare after a true Flowers for Algernon moment by Paul and, despite the host’s warning that we must be careful when we escaped as we were parked in traffic, we hurtled out without a care in the world. Seven people died in the resulting pile-up but we were winners and that’s the most important thing. We took a picture – me holding a giant D, which seemed appropriate – and went on our way. I thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking for something different in Manchester – you can book it here
We went for drinks (the first time in ages for me) and apparently it went well. I wouldn’t know.
I do know that I had a mouthful of chicken tikka wrap (not a euphemism) at 2.30am to counter the eight ciders and other alcohol sloshing around in my stomach and then had to stand swaying in front of the hotel room toilet for a few moments on the verge of throwing up. Clearly, the wrap was off. Luckily a couple of Renés and I was right as rain.
Escape Reality – Auron
Next day, after breakfasting handsomely (as you’d expect) we farted about a bit and then waddled off to our next escape room. This one came with a twist: they’d built two identical escape rooms and, assuming the other team of strangers was up for it, you could choose to ‘race’ the other team to see who would get out first. As an extra deliciousness, each time you solved a puzzle in your room, a light would go on in their room, which ramped up the pressure. As two competitive people – though I’d say I’m the most competitive of course – we were desperate to go up against another team. However, the family that had arrived the same time as us were new to escape rooms. Of course, being gallant and kind, we immediately lied and said we had barely done two escape rooms ourselves, lulling the poor sods into a false sense of security. They agreed and the race was on.
Well. We had seven lights on by the time one of theirs flickered to life (and even that went unlit again, as though they’d reconsidered solving the puzzle and decided to leave it for later). We absolutely rinsed the game, finishing in twenty eight minutes flat: our fastest ever completion (and to be fair, it does usually take me a while, though I’m getting quicker as the cold nights set in). We’d done so well we’ve ended up on their leaderboard in a photograph that looks like a promo shot for Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away. Part of me feels terrible for our perfidiousness, yes, but again, we had fun. Rumour has it that the family are still there, crushed by their own defeat, scratching at the door to be let out. Bit like Goomba. You can try your luck here.
Bowling at The Dog Bowl
Before leaving for Liverpool we went for a quick game of bowling at The Dog Bowl and I’m pleased to say that despite neither of us being able to bowl or indeed move in a fashion that doesn’t suggest we need an ambulance calling, we both did very well. It was a draw – probably technically he won on points, I won on style. I love people watching at places like this and seeing the competitive bowlers taking it super seriously – all thin-lipped and furrowed brows and tiny macho fist-pumps. Pfft. I’m just thankful when I topple over a pin without knocking someone out in the process. We ordered a pizza on their fancy app without realising we would need to wait for the wheat to be harvested so they could, in turn, set about making the pizza dough. It still wasn’t a terrible pizza when it arrived nine years later and you know, if they had used more than three matches to cook it, it could have been magical. The staff were lovely, mind you.
As we were leaving we spotted a Dance Dance Revolution machine in the corner and it just had to be done. It’ll come as no surprise when I tell you that I simply can’t dance. At all. I move in such a way that those nearby gasp and look to my feet to ensure I haven’t stepped onto some exposed wiring. And yet, here’s the thing: I would absolutely, utterly, totally love to learn. Paul (mine) can’t think of anything worse than guiding me gracefully around on the dancefloor (presumably the time we had to move a double settee into our spare bedroom put him off such endeavours for life) so it’ll remain a longing that is never quenched. But, God loves a trier, and despite Paul (friend) being equally as rotund and flatfooted as me, we gamely give the machine a spin. Three tracks later his ankle had gone, I was hyperventilating into my chins and Metrolink had to take their evening service off. I wish I could say we’d chosen some complex track which would trouble even the best dancer, but I remain unconvinced that we had even moved away from the ‘Insert Token’ screen.
Cluefinders – The Tomb (Liverpool)
Thankfully, I had a chance to rest my ankles and my eyes immediately after as I drove us to Liverpool, where we picked up Paul’s husband Martin. Imagine (again) a dystopian Humpty Dumpty shrunk to the size of the tittle on a handwritten ‘i’ and you’re most of the way there with those visuals too. With him popped safely into the glove box I drove us down to our final escape room: The Tomb by Cluefinders. We’ve previously done their other two rooms and they were absolutely magnificent: really bloody clever and surprising rooms with inventive puzzles. This room was no different and possibly my favourite: mild spoilers ahead though, so skip to the next paragraph if you’re planning on doing it yourself. There’s a moment in this room which requires you to get on your hands and knees (imagine my discomfort) and crawl somewhere else. That’s fine if you’re a slender young thing, but not when you’re either: morbidly obese and wearing jeans designed for catwalk models who eat twice a year (me), nearly always taller than the room you’re standing in and boasting knees with the structural integrity of aerated water (Paul), or old enough to be around when they first built the pyramids and therefore in a position to be distracted by anachronisms (Martin). That said, we did make an excellent team and once we’d finished shouting, being shouted at or swearing at each other via a volume you might use if you were trying to alert a passing helicopter to your presence on a deserted island, we made it out of the room with minutes to spare.
But what makes this room even better – and indeed the other two rooms we’ve done here – was the staff. Dannie was our host (and I hope I have the spelling right, though I can’t stand in judgement here: love James, Jaymes, Jamie, Jay, Jimbolina, Jfonzmes, Keith) and she was that perfect mix of knowledgeable, funny and genuinely interested in what we had to say. To her credit she managed to mask the crippling anxiety she must have been feeling when we all squeezed onto the Chesterfield sofa in the waiting room, our faces looking as they do like the three stages of an off-the-books medical trial. Lots of escape rooms are franchise models and there’s nothing wrong with that – I’m yet to experience a bad host – but these more individual places need as much support as they can get, especially when the rooms are as top-tier as these ones. If you’re in Liverpool I urge you to give them a go – they’re down on the docks and, if you follow the diversions currently in place around the roadworks, it should only take you eighty-seven weeks to get there.
Oh, and final note: all of the escape rooms were incredibly hot on COVID precautions, with plenty of sanitiser kicking about and the wearing of masks. Paul sneezed in one of the rooms and we had to beg the host not to have him taken around the back and shot like Old Yeller.
And that’s that! That was my trip away and it was very good fun. And with my typical lack of care towards keeping things punchy, we’re up over the 2,000 word mark again. I’m sorry! Let me placate you by sharing the recipe for cheesy eggy crumpets without a moment more of delay.
Top your cheesy eggy crumpets with whatever: here I used gigantic beans and bacon
That’s how good they look unadorned, these cheesy eggy crumpets of mine!
This is what I mean in the recipe when I say leave the cheesy eggy crumpets to soak!
Well hi! Look: I'm going to base the calorie count on two crumpets - it's then up to you to top it with whatever you like. In this case, I did a couple of rashers of back bacon on the grill before I did the crumpets so there's a bit of bacon fat mixed in, but if you're all about the clean lifestyle, do things separately. This recipe makes enough for two people to have two crumpets each. Obvs.
Don't forget to check the notes on this one - I've got some ideas!
four sourdough crumpets
two large eggs
100g of jalapeno Philadelphia
salt and pepper
chilli flakes if you want your ring troubled
We work all of our recipe calories out using Nutracheck - remember your calorie count may be different depending on what type of cheese / crumpet you use and all that, so calorie count is a rough guide only! We work this out as 395 calories for two crumpets.
beat the eggs with a good pinch of salt and pepper, the Philly and some chilli flakes if you're using
pack the crumpets into a small dish and pour the egg over - longer you leave them to sit (flipping every now and then) the more they'll absorb
when it comes to cooking, I cooked ours in a George Foreman grill until crunchy - the same effect can be done in a frying pan or under the grill
serve with whatever you want - they're perfectly fine on their own mind!
use whatever soft cheese you want - I just went spicy
if you want to make this even dirtier, grate extra mature cheddar into the egg wash too or sprinkle it on top when you grill
book two of ours has so many amazing recipes you'll need to hoy a towel down - it's slimming food but tastes so damn fine: order yours here!
Looking for something more substantial for breakfast? Have a go at our summer breakfast hash – click the picture to go straight there!
Stay safe, all
Oh, let’s just pre-empt it:
James Anderson would like to make clear that at no time is he left to only do tedious puzzles in escape rooms. Indeed, he is apparently known for dashing straight to the ‘exciting’ puzzles and treating the boring things like reading information, finding keys or working as a team as a mere afterthought in the endless, glittery excitement that make up his waking moments. Although the author disputes these claims, he is happy to clarify matters in the interest of honesty, truth and preventing a telling-off that ends with him being called a stupid cow or a variant thereof.
Oh and for good bloody measure:
James Anderson would like to remind those readers who are sitting there with a Wotsit-stained finger waiting to call the RSPCA once Homes under the Hammer has finished that he of course did not leave Goomba alone in the cupboard at any time. He pushed the two cats in there with him for company.
Good morning all – perhaps you’re wondering why I’ve brought you all here today. The answer is this: what the hell do I call this recipe? I went for summer breakfast hash but that’s an absolutely bobbins title and we need more suggestions. Feel free to help! It’s a combination of shakshuka (spicy tomatoes and egg) and a hash (because it has cubed potatoes) but I also threw some chorizo in there. I was going to pen it as ‘shakshukash’ but that’s the noise my cat makes when she’s licking her tuppence right next to my ear at 4am in the morning. Honestly, I don’t know what she’s trying to mine from down there but she’s bloody determined for a breakthrough any day soon.
Couple of bits of admin before we get to the summer breakfast hash (sigh) – a gentle reminder that our planner launches next month! If you want a diet planner with tonnes of room to record your thoughts, plenty of us pointing at you, 26 recipes…all sorts – you can order it here (it’ll open in a new window), and I heartily promise you’ll love it!
Second, as mentioned before, in the absence of anything to write about (unless you want 2,000 words of me in lockdown, which is essentially eight wanks a day and the occasional row with the neighbours) (must stop wanking in front of the window), I’m continuing with our Canada tales. If you’re not a fan of the writing, simply scroll straight to the summer breakfast hash: I mean, it’s a safe bet a lot of you know exactly how to do that. It’s a funny thing though, looking back over what was the best few weeks of our lives. Drinking from the memory cup is also a poisoned chalice: we want to be out exploring again, ratching like old times, seeing the world. Even if the 🎵coronaVIRUS 🎵buggers off, what is travelling going to look like? Not as though insurance is going to cover going to America and picking up coronavirus now is it? I know, I know. Cry me a river.
But see, saying that doesn’t help, because I want to visit there too. Boom. Anyway, onto the stories – oh, and a wee plea. If you’re enjoying reading this, do let me know in the comments below. I appreciate they’re a bit lengthy but it’s nice to write about something different. Ta!
The first attraction was a laser maze: oooh! The literature outside promised thrills and spills and I went in with half a lob-on and a heart full of excitement, expecting crazy lasers and an obstacle course. What we actually got was a game fresh out of Bid Up TV’s hot-take on The Crystal Maze: a bedroom painted black with a few laser pens pointing around. I’ve had more risk and adventure getting the clothes out of the tumble drier. We pressed on, with the objective being to avoid the lasers and press the button at the other side of the room, and finished it in record time (so at least Paul felt at home). Turns out stepping over four lasers isn’t that taxing even when you have the manoeuvrability of a Resident Evil heroine, and boy was I pleased we’d spent twenty dollars on it. Paul tripped over his shoelaces upon leaving, becoming quite possibly the first tourist to ever faceplant in an entirely empty room.
Next: go-karting. For this to work, you have to realise how incredibly competitive I am at driving and how bad I am at taking criticism about my approach to motoring. You could come to me, tell me you were shagging my husband, killed my mother and taken a shit in my Instant Pot and I’d chortle and say jolly good, you’re welcome to him. My doctor could tell me I had six weeks to live because I had explosive-sphincter and I’d smile cheerily and say at least it wasn’t four. But, know this: if you get into a car with me and so much as suck air over your teeth as I hurtle up the arse of some old dear in a rust-coloured Renault Shitstorm, I’ll crash the car into the nearest tunnel without a second glance. Paul once told me I didn’t have my radio adjusted correctly and I sulked all the way through to our anniversary. So, go-karting is never a good idea: I can’t bear to lose. Nevertheless, we paid our tickets and joined the queue.
Two things riled me before I even sat in the kart: some airy little minge vocal-frying and pretending she was drunk in front of me. She was as drunk as I was straight. I’d rather hear gunshots from my parents’ bedroom than hear one more syllable from her pouting, oh-my-god- so-zaaaaany’ voice. Of course, she was in front, so I was subjected to it all for a good twenty minutes before I was served a final indignation: some spotty kid with a bless-him moustache who looked at my giant, elephantine head and had to go fetch a special 3XL helmet from under the counter. Alright mate, my mother smoked forty car-boot-sale Lambert and Butlers a day whilst carrying me, give me a chance – and mind I suspect she only took that route because she didn’t fancy hurtling herself down the stairs.
We got settled into our karts, me unable to see because my rage was making my visor steam up. Don’t worry, I recorded the whole thing on my phone – only I didn’t, because I selected selfie mode before slipping it into my shirt pocket so all we have is four minutes of revving and the sound of my nipples dancing under a polyester/viscose mix. Stupid ‘drunk’ girl was in front of me, Paul behind. Captain ‘tache waved us off and immediately the walking womb in front of me starts farting about, not ‘lolzzzz I’m not getting how to drive’, turning around and shrieking at me because ‘how do I work the pedals LOL Instagram am-I-right gurrrrrlz’.
I waited patiently for about three seconds before flooring it, hitting her kart and pushing it out of the starting grid. We were off!
I got to the first corner before I span out. Paul hurtled past cackling and did I balls manage to catch up. In my defence, I got stuck behind Tits McGee who kept stopping, making a lot of noise and trying to flirt with the traffic lights. She was being deliberately annoying and I couldn’t get past, with eventually Paul rejoining me from the rear and everyone starting to get pissed off with her.
She ruined a very good session of go-karting, but don’t worry, I’m a vindictive sod at the best of times, and when we all siphoned back into the starting channels, I took my opportunity. She’d stopped and was in the process of removing her helmet when I hurtled into the back of her at top speed. I’ve never seen a neck move like that – it was just like in the Roadrunner cartoons when he’d fall off the cliff and his body would drop but his head stayed in the same place. Whoops.
She turned to have a pop at me and I just gave the fakest laugh ever known to man, shrugged my shoulders and cawed ‘omg, hoooooooow do I work the pedals again?!’. Even Paul looked appalled. No regrets here though: never get in the way of a tight-arse Geordie and his ten dollars of go-karting. Last time I saw her she was being loaded into the back of an ambulance with a neck-brace on to the sounds of Viva Forever from her shattered iPhone*.
*I’m kidding. I think it was a Samsung.
Next door to the go-karts was a giant ferris wheel which promised unrivalled views of the fall and all the stupendous sights of the Niagara strip. I’m all for a sit-down so you best believe we were on this before I had a chance to fret about the oily-faced terror running the ride, who looked as though he’d struggle to check his own name off a list let alone complete a full safety review of a morning. Did you know Newcastle is getting its own ferris wheel like the London Eye at the time of me writing this? And, because of course, we’re calling it the Newcastle Way-Eye. I mean, the only way you could make the experience more Geordie is if Raoul Moat was in one of the pods and you had to take a gamble that you might finish the night having your teeth polished by a sawn-off shotgun.
The first rotation was great – the subsequent EIGHT spins far less so. There’s only so many ‘oooh’ noises (and I say that as a gay man who has perfected the disappointed-but-it’ll-do response to many an underwear reveal) you can make to the sight of a waterfall pitched in inky blackness half a mile away before you have to admit defeat. We must have been on that bloody wheel a good half hour. Even the London Eye loses its attractiveness after ten minutes. I once tugged my ex off inside a fairly busy capsule on the London Eye though, which remains high up on my list of inspired places I’ve had sex. Saying that, he had a tiny knob: it was like trying to fish a Mint Imperial out of your pocket in a darkened cinema.
The waxworks came next, and listen, if you’d told me the waxworks had recently suffered an intense electrical fire causing significant damage, I would well believe you. I’ve seen better takes on Jamie Lee Curtis and Mel Gibson formed from the cellulitis on my thighs than anything on display here. I’m not saying it was rough, but the lovely old biddy on the front desk looked more like Sylvester Stallone than the supposed waxwork did. Mind to her credit she was hanging from a helicopter with a knife in her gob at the time. We wandered around and had a whale of a time – Cher looked like Axl Rose having a shart, One Direction: The Meth Years were a particular highlight, and better yet: animatronics. Animatronics from the There Was An Attempt box – Mike Myers dressed as Frank Butcher cosplaying as Austin Powers shouting YEAH BABY accompanied by the loud hiss of hydraulics and a juddering lunge.
Somewhat inexplicably, amongst the waxworks, they had a full size set of The Simpsons, with them all sat on the sofa. Because I’m a pervert, I immediately climbed over and stuck my face into Homer’s crotch for a photo opportunity. What can I say: at times like this, instinct takes over and when presented with a straight daddy with his legs open, my knees go out from under me like I’ve got rickets (Dickits?) and my lips drip like a sunken sponge. No sooner had I started gagging on the polystyrene and Paul had taken a few photos for above the fireplace than all the lights came on and the primmest voice you’ve ever heard came crackling out of the tannoy to ask me to ‘refrain from posing with the models’. Posing? Bitch. We were ushered out with a face that said ‘don’t come back for a refund’ but I could see from the twinkle in her eye and indeed, the dew on her twinkle that she’d be buttering her muffin over the CCTV footage later.
You know, let me say something here. It’s too easy – and cracking for the word count – to be dismissive about places like this. They’re crap, but by god they’re entertaining crap. I compare it to somewhere like Benidorm – no-one goes to Benidorm to stroke their chins and admire the high culture (and if they do, they’re wankers), but if you go to have a good time, that’s exactly what you’ll have. Too many people walk around with their nose in the air and a stick up their arse in some misguided attempt to look aloof and superior. Please. I might write about things in a sarcastic fashion here but know this: I will always be the first in the queue for a shitty exhibition or a naff house of horrors, with Paul a close second (and third, because he’s so fat). Life is for having fun, not sneering at those who do.
Anyway, enough of that, let me get back to stroking my chin, walking around with my nose in the air and a stick up my arse – it’s hard work being this aloof and superior, you know. We shall continue this post next week!
Right then, to the summer breakfast hash which still absolutely need a better title. If you want to make a lighter version you could leave out the chorizo, but it does add a lovely taste to the whole dish.
This recipe for summer breakfast hash is surprisingly quick to throw together, and is perfect for using up all the veg shite you have cluttering around in the bottom of the fridge. If you're not a fan of spice, leave out the chilli flakes. Similarly, if you want to cut a few calories/syns, ditch the chorizo.
You absolutely can cook the potato in the tomato sauce if you want to make it a one-pot summer breakfast hash, but we recommend following the recipe - the crunchy oven-baked potatoes add a nice contrast to the 'gooey' eggs and sauce. But each to their own.
Oh and of course, you can use Frylight instead of oil on the potatoes and your pan. But you can pleat your own bog roll from dock leaves, doesn't mean you should. Flavour always.
two tablespoons of oil - one for the potatoes, one for the pan
swap out for Frylight if you want to save syns, but please, don't
three fist-sized potatoes, peeled if you prefer, cut into small cubes
two large red onions
two large peppers - we went for a yellow pepper and a large sweet red pepper, but it hardly matters
four fresh large eggs
50g of diced chorizo (6 syns) - you can buy frozen diced chorizo in Tesco now, which makes this so much easier
teaspoon of chilli flakes
one tin of chopped tomatoes (we use the chopped tomatoes with chilli, again from Tesco) - if you have fresh tomatoes, dice them up and use those instead
one carton of passata (500g)
A note on the oils. We've been using rapeseed oil from Yorkshire Drizzle for the last few weeks - same amount of syns as regular olive oil but a much higher frying point. That's all well and good but really the most important thing is they're flavoured, and flavoured well. For this recipe, we used the black pepper oil. You can take a look at their range here: it'll open in a new window. We haven't been paid to promote or anything like that, they're just a bloody good company!
preheat the oven to around 190 degrees
take your cubed potato, put them in a bowl with a tablespoon of oil and give them a right good toss around - you don't need a lot of oil to coat them
spread them on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes until they're softened - might do you as well to give them a quick turn halfway through
if you have an Actifry, you can just chuck them in there to cook and everyone's a winner
meanwhile, finely slice the onion and peppers and gently fry them off in the oil until softened
add the tomatoes, chilli flakes and passata and leave to bubble away until your potatoes are done
when the potatoes are done, chuck them in too - taste the sauce, add a pinch of salt if you like, and then leave to reduce and thicken
once you're ready to serve, make four wells in the pan and crack your eggs into them - cover the pan with a lid and let the eggs cook through
serve to the gasps and shrieks of your loved ones
remember - our slimming cookbook can be ordered online now - full of 100+ slimming recipes, and bloody amazing, with over 2400 5* reviews: Click here to order
our new diet planner launches soon: you can order it here (it’ll open in a new window)
Firstly, let me apologise for something. This sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash looks like something my cat shat out when she was going through the change, and no amount of Photoshop trickery is going to make it look better. But here’s the thing – it was genuinely tasty and I’m sure in more capable hands it would look halfway presentable. But in my defence, I was up at 6am thanks to a combination of Paul’s snoring, Paul’s farting, Paul’s phone going 🎵rit dit dit do doo 🎵- that, with 28 added lusty attempts from him to get some morning marital love outside of his birthday, meant I was super bloody tired. Luckily, I don’t hold a grudge, and I told him I’d grown fond of his face over the last twelve years as I merrily doused the bed with petrol. So, although the sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash looks like shite, I absolutely recommend you give it a go.
Let’s get straight to the recipe with no more chit-chat then, is one of the many opening sentences you may expect from a food blog. However, of course not, it’s us!
Fair warning on this one. The next few paragraphs – whilst not explicit in any way – are a bit more adult than the normal nonsense I post. Bear that in mind if you’re a delicate flower.
I touched on the fact we’d spent a merry weekend surrounded by hurly-burly gay men in my last post, and I feel I should expand on the memory of that. Something I’ve certainly done with alarmingly frequency since being back, for sure. See, every year in Edinburgh, there’s an event called BearScots – which in turn begs a further explanation. For those that div-not-knaa, a bear is a gay man who can’t shop at H&M. It’s where the ‘Cubs’ part of the blog name comes from, for what is a young bear if not a Cub. The theme tends to be hairy, portly and bearded. We’re making the term Cub work bloody hard now we’re both freefalling into the other side of 35, but I’m not changing the name now – we’ve had tea-towels printed. Anyway, it’s a surprisingly international event that puts significant strain on the airframes of low-budget airlines from all over Europe. I’ve always fancied going but, as regular readers will know, I’m a horrendously shy person who hates being looked at. Paul’s even worse, remaining the only man I know who would enjoy waking up in a sealed body bag because at least he’d never have to interact with anyone.
However, we had our arms twisted by a very good friend of ours who promised to look after us and make sure we were tucked up in bed by 10pm with a cocoa. We rashly agreed – somewhat fuelled by alcohol at that point – and before you could say who’s bringing the rubber bedsheets we had rented an apartment with all the laissez-faire attitude to cancellation policies that you’d expect from two frisky tinkers drunk on two sniffs of the barmaid’s cloth. We managed to rope in a couple more to meet up there and in no time at all, we were driving up the A1 to Edinburgh. I say we, Paul was driving and I was feverishly working my way through the many cans of gin and tonic we’d elected to pack instead of toiletries and essentials. It was a long, subdued trip.
Because Paul was driving, the two hour journey took exactly two hours. No stopping for cigarettes, cottaging or a wee mosey around the giftshop, he’s all business. He could be a taxi driver, he’s certainly got the sitting on his arse complaining bit down pat. We met our friends at our fabulously appointed apartment, shrieked at the absolutely tiny shitter (seriously, next time you’re dropping the kids off, try doing it with your legs pressed entirely together), exchanged insurance details and then went out. The first night was CC Blooms and served as an introduction of sorts, just an excuse to have a drink and a catch-up. I admit to being nervous: I’m actually not too bad at being social, to be fair, but it can be quite intimidating walking into a bar with two hundred far more polished hot-takes of yourself. Still, again fuelled with alcohol, I threw myself right into it and can’t deny that I had a maaaarvellous time. Put it this way, I started at 8pm, had already been offered excess and shenanigans by 9pm, and was dressed like this by about 10pm
I know, so demure. They hurt like an absolute motherfucker taking them off, mind you. Paul got into the swing of things almost as quickly, which was lovely. He lost me for about an hour and a half when I ventured downstairs into such a sea of flesh that I ran the very real risk of appearing back upstairs like a spill of mayonnaise rolled in pubic hair. Actually, fair play to me, I kept my hand on my ha’penny all night. Every single person I talked to was an absolute treasure, though, and when Paul and I rolled back to bed early in the morning, I was a very content cub. Mind that also had something to do with the deep-fried Scotch pie that I had smushed into my beard, granted. We stole a pack of Frazzles from the kitchen on our way.
Now, some people can languish in bed fitfully sleeping with their hands smashing all over all day long, but not me – despite having 84% proof blood, I woke at my usual 8am and decided to take the air. Well, that, and I needed fags. Because I’m a prissy bitch, I only like a certain brand, and it took four shops and all manner of blank stares and curious expressions before I found what I was looking for. Not only did the homely wee newsagent provide me with the minty nicotine hit I was desperately craving but also took the time to kindly point out I had a Frazzle adhered to my sweaty bald head from the night before. No wonder I couldn’t get served, I looked as though I was bringing leprosy back.
The day was spent mooching about, feeling sorry for ourselves (now I’ve reached the age where I get hangovers, I start to sympathise with my mother’s short temper at Christmas) and then having a restorative afternoon tea which was terrifically fancy. Naturally, I managed to get Creme Patissiere in my beard and drop my tiny sandwich on the floor, though I maintain we made a good impression with the two lovely Norwegian bears who had decided to sit with us. I heard the words ‘Ukulturerte sviner’ but we can take that as them choking on a flake of puff pastry. We were joined by Patrick, all smiles and startled from the night before, and we left for a couple of pints in Dirty Dicks before nicking back to get changed for the big event. On our way back an absolutely stunning man (tall, bearded, bald, arms like Christmas hams) walked past with his wife (mousy, plain, only in it for the money, definitely having an affair) and attracted all three of our gazes at once. Paul and Patrick are subtle, I’m most certainly not – I span my neck that quickly that the resulting crack of my bones smashing brought the street to its knees. So vexed was the wife by this attention lavished on her husband that she yelled ‘ALRIGHT LADS, YOU CAN STOP GAWPING NOW‘. Only she said it in a broad Scottish burr so actually, it was entirely incomprehensible – for all I know she was hailing a taxi. The chap did smile though. He knew. He knew we would father his children at a moment’s notice.
The evening event was the big one – around 400 blokes packing into The Caves, an underground, multi-level gorgeous place normally reserved for weddings and fancy dinners. It tickles me absolutely pink to think of some wedding nana sitting down sipping her Asti Spumante in the same place where someone was having their ring tested in an entirely different way. The theme for the event was ‘TAPS AFF’ which I’m told means tops off, with everyone being encouraged to take their tops off, wear a kilt or some fetishwear and just have a bloody good time. This was my effort:
I know, the casting for the Bring It On reboot is spot-on. I look like the campest Goal Defence substitute you’ve ever seen, I appreciate that. And yes, I went without my knickers on, a mistake I realised later when the steamy underground air – raised by the exothermic reaction of so much panting and sweating – left my balls clattering around my knees like a set of 90s Clackers. Paul won’t let me post a picture of him in his kilt even though he actually looked great. Poor sport. My top was off before I’d even clambered out of the taxi, the chilly Edinburgh night air no match for my Geordie approach to weather. I break a sweat wearing an earring, let alone wrapping up warm. I shan’t go into detail because it was just eight happy hours of pleasantries, drinking and warm embraces. I’ll say this though: I’ve never – in my absolute entire life – felt more confident in my own skin, back-hair and moobs all included. We both went down well.
Serious bit now. The reason the event is such a success is – from at least what I can see when I’m not gazing at myself in my phone – no bitchiness. I didn’t see a single person looking miserable, or alone, or down at his shoes – just everyone having a bloody good time and mixing wonderfully. I’ve been lucky enough to mince through my life either not experiencing – or rather, not noticing – any hassle about how I look or what I’m doing – but as with most large social groups, you always get a few bad apples. They must have stayed at home turning themselves into bitter applesauce because there was none of that there and it was just absolutely brilliant. We made a tonne of friends who – shock horror – we’re actively staying in contact with. Hell, one especially charming fella is sending me something I absolutely can’t wear for work, and that’s very exciting indeed. Fetch the talc and Momma’s pryin’ bar.
Sunday was the wrap-up event where Mr Bearscots was crowned – a very deserving winner who had crocheted his own kilt – but I had my eyes on one of the runners-up (who luckily visited last week, so we were able to commiserate his loss together). Paul held me back from storming the stage and offering myself up as a consolation hole, which was very decent of him. And of course, because I’m me, I now definitely want to enter Mr Bearscots next year. If Miss Congeniality has taught us anything is that hilarious antics will ensue and I’ll end up being crowned to the strains of ‘One in a Million’ (easy joke there) after I do my ‘making 18″ disappear’ trick.
In all, then, it was an absolutely tremendous weekend, and I’m so glad we rolled the dice and went up. It helped having such lovely company, of course, and the fact that the whole event ran so perfectly is a credit to the organisers and the volunteers. We will be back, in a heartbeat, and we’re also signing up for Bears on Ice next year – the same type of event but in Iceland. Those of you who have been with us a long time may remember our previous escapades in the Land of Fire and Ice, if not, have a click through here and take a look – that’s part six of a six-part blog story of an absolutely amazing trip, with links to all the previous entries included.
Ah, what a time. And here’s Paul’s cheery hangover face, to finish you all off:
See, he does exist! For all his many, endless faults, I do love him so. You’ll note he’s wearing my hoodie in that picture, which he liberally coated in oil from his pizza. That was his face when I dared to raise it to him. I’m sick of living in fear, if I’m honest.
Now, speaking of living in fear, I’m terrified by how rubbish this looks. Well no obviously I’m not, but please forgive me. Onto the sausage, onion and potato breakfast hash…
This is actually a Nigel Slater recipe that we've tinkered with slightly to make it less buttery and better for your arse. Enjoy. We do spoil you.
6 syn free sausages
3 medium potatoes
First, squeeze the sausagemeat out of the casing into 3-4 roughly shaped balls per sausage (don't worry, it doesn't have to be neat)
Spray a medium sized frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium-high heat
Add the sausages to the pan and cook until browned all over
Meanwhile, peel finely slice the onion
Grate the potato (with the skins on) with a cheese grater
Drop the grated potato into a sieve and squeeze as much moisture out as you can
Add the onion to the frying pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until starting to turn golden
Add the potato to the pan and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden
make four divots and crack an egg into each one, cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes until the egg has cooked to your liking
Got an Actifry or a Halo? PERFECT! Cook the sausages in the pan with the paddle removed, shaking occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until starting to brown. Then add the paddle back to the pan and then chuck in the potato and the onion, and cook for a further 10-12 minutes until done.
Syn free eggy bread cups – possibly one of the easiest recipes we’ve ever done, but if you’re looking for a quick, healthy breakfast, fill your boobs. Not a typo.
So, here’s the deal folks. We need to knuckle down and focus on our fabulous cookbook, which is coming out in December.
Coming up with eighty-six jokes about willies per paragraph is taxing on the old fingers, I can promise you. But we can’t leave you without something to read of an evening, and as a result, I’ve decided to publish a chapter from the other book we’re writing, a memoir of our month in Canada last year. Our travel blogs, like your dear writer, always go down well.
Canada has been on my mind a lot lately, so it’s always nice to revisit it. Seems like a lifetime ago, but it’s only been nine months. Anyone got a contact for Bernard’s Watch? Anyway.
If you’re here for the eggy bread cups recipe, scroll right to the bottom and you’ll see it right there!
We landed at Toronto Airport in double-smart time and, after a restorative coffee and a mental note of all the airport shops available to us for the end of the holiday ‘get rid of the Canadian money because I’ll be buggered if it’s getting added to the drawer of mystery money at home’ dash, we made our way to the car rental place to pick up our motor for the brief trip to Niagara. I had asked for an exciting car, something with a bit of zip, something that an NHS dentist wouldn’t drive. They gave me a Nissan Qashqai that, if it were represented by a sound, it would be that little sigh you make when you bite into an apple and it’s soft. I mean, it’ll do, but. Toronto to Niagara is about a two hour drive if you drive like Paul, about an hour if you drive like me. By drive like me I mean furiously, with scant attention to road-signs, other users and the fact I was falling asleep at the wheel because I was so, so tired. Who would have thought that thirty days of travelling would catch up with me so suddenly?
Luckily, Canadian motorways are wide, many-laned and never particularly busy, so I was able to get some shut-eye for a good few miles before Paul’s screaming and wrenching at the steering wheel rudely brought me around. He can be a very selfish passenger. Oh, I should preface this by saying I asked him to drive but he couldn’t because he was tired. But we couldn’t play loud music because he had a headache. He also wouldn’t talk to me to keep me awake because he was sulking because I wouldn’t let him wear my sex-trophy hat. So actually, had we rolled the motor and shuffled into the afterlife, he’d have only had himself to blame.
After our brief sojourn onto the hard shoulder Paul made me stop for a coffee. I immediately poo-pooed this idea because the last thing I need when I’m trying to nod off is caffeine and instead made a swap for a Dairy Queen Dime Bar Blizzard. Listen, if you’re at a computer, look into flights to Toronto right now and get one of these into you. I’d cheerfully push the Scottish rugby team off my bumhole to have another bash at one of these. It’s worth losing a foot over, I promise you. It’s like they blended a whole bag of Dime bar miniatures with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and rubbed it across my prostate for a solid ten minutes. I’ve never had a dessert give me a full stonk-on.
Back in the car, absolutely smashed off my tits on the sugar, the rest of the drive flew by in a blur of metal and me screeching along to Cher. Paul laughed as his ears bled.
Our hotel was the Sheraton by the Falls. It’s called that because of the amount of old people I pushed over in my haste to get in (there was a much, much better joke there originally, but in this age of hysteria, I pulled it). Gosh no I’m kidding, it’s a wonderful hotel that overlooks the falls – if you’re fancy and pay for an upgrade you can gaze out of your window at the majesty of the falls. Which sounds just lovely and indeed it is, but it comes with a significant downside. Being so near so much thundering water means everything is ever so slightly damp. It’s like a hen-party with an aged male stripper. This in turn creates an overwhelming smell of foist in the room, which admittedly was alleviated a little once Paul and his toxic arse settled in. Something to consider if you’re planning on booking it: great views, deathly smell. twochubbycubs in a nutshell!
We farted about in the room for a bit – the usual, you know, Paul has a dump, I have a browse through the porn channels and lament that yet again, the Hilton have failed to cater for us delicate souls who can’t get off unless there’s stuff on there that would make a jury wince, then made to go out. I got as far as the bathroom before I realised – through a haze of Paul’s effluence – that the bath was one of those fancy doohickies with bubble jets and all sorts of fancy buttons to pulse your sphincter and make your boobs jiggle. I couldn’t let that go, so promptly set the taps away, adding just a drop of Molton Brown for that luxurious black pepper scent. Nipped out to give Paul some ‘we’ve been married twelve years, let’s get it out of the way’ disinterested attention, and came back to the bathroom to wipe the shame off my hands only to find the room absolutely awash with bubbles.
It was fantastic. I climbed into that bath and entirely disappeared into a cloudscape of gently popping bubbles. I’ve never felt gayer. With my head just poking through the bubbles I looked like the campest meringue you’ve ever seen. I must have been cooing and oohing too loudly because Paul came in (maybe he thought I was finishing myself off? Cheers, Mr ‘And I’m Done’, for the concern) and shrieked. Nothing spoils a peaceful moment like one of Paul’s shrieks. He explained that we’d probably be charged for wrecking their plumbing and pointed to a tiny sign on the wall which implored folks not to use bubble bath with the jets turned on. Please. The sign was the size of a postage stamp: you’re talking to someone who needs all his focus to hit the bowl when he has a pap. The bubbles showed no sign of abating – possibly because I still had two of the jets focused on my cock – so I dried off and out we went, deciding to worry about that problem later in the night.
That’s enough for now. Part two coming soon! Let’s do the syn-free eggy bread cups!
The cheek of us calling this a recipe, honestly. But sometimes, you just want something quick in the morning so you can spend all your time outside pushing a couple of weeds around so you can surreptitiously gawp at the one hot neighbour pushing his lawnmower around with his shirt off. No? Just me? OK, quick and easy so you can get back to your stories.
I'm making the recipe enough for two egg cups - enough for one person, I think you'll agree. Scale up accordingly.
two slices of whatever bread Slimming Would have decided is alright for you that week (your Healthy Extra B choice)
two large eggs
salt and pepper
preheat the oven to 180 degrees
get a deep muffin tray and spritz it with some spray olive oil
cut the crusts off your bread and then cut each slice into two
layer the two halves into one of the muffin spaces and crack an egg into the middle
give a couple of grinds of salt and pepper
repeat as many times as you like and then cook in the oven for fifteen minutes (runny) or twenty (firm)
gussy these up by adding a sprinkling of cheese
I threw a load of cherry tomatoes into the muffin tray to let them roast whilst the eggs cooked
Here for the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers? Who can blame you: it’s like breakfast but someone tickling your molly at the same time – it’s that good. But fair warning: there’s a big entry in front of it.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it, since I really got my juices flowing and spaffed a long article all over your keyboard? Listen, I know you might not be in the mood for a long entry – you’ve turned into such a frigid cow since the days when you used to have me in your bed every night – so if you’re not in the mood to read, simply click the entirely random set of teeth below to be whisked straight to the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers.
They say, in life, never meet your heroes. Well no, they say it somewhere on Pinterest in between all the inspirational quotes and pictures of satchels. Anyway, last Thursday, I went to Liverpool for a day out to do exactly that.
Imagine my disappointment when I realised Cilla passed away in 2015 after a quick breakdance routine down a flight of stairs. Actually, that’s a fib. My eyes couldn’t have been drier on that day, and you’re talking to someone whose eyes are ruined from squinting owlishly at the most appalling porn on a mobile when Paul’s fallen asleep.
The original plan was to go down on the 4.30am train but, as with all my plans, it all fell apart at the last moment with the appearance of Storm Gareth. Gareth! Who the fuck is in charge of naming storms these days? If you were told Storm Hercules was approaching, you’d batten down the hatches, lock the cats away and get in the Anderson shelter. Well, you would, I’d be outside in the garden with my bum-cheeks spread and ‘DON’T STOP EVEN IF I USE THE SAFE WORD’ carved in my jiggly-joggly bumcheeks. But Storm Gareth? No disrespect to any Gareth folks that are out there but the name suggests a storm that couldn’t blow the froth off a pint of piss-weak bitter. It’s like being menaced by a headache called Susan or shaken down for money by Lil Dwayne. Pfft.
However, two things: I’m prone to catastrophic thinking and I’m a tight-arse Geordie: there was fuck all way I was going to miss the escape rooms and cinema that had all been paid for simply because Storm Gareth had Selby-ed my train. So, after begging mercy from the man upstairs, praying to the good folks at First Direct and sweet-talking the husband to ignoring my demands for a frugal month, I was on a train travelling down the night before.
And what a journey! I’ve never known such opulence as the Transpennine First Class. I wasn’t expecting luxury given I was travelling on a converted bus, but fucking hell. The clues were there: the fact that first class was cheaper than standard class should have given it away. No reserved seating – I had my eye on the one individual seat but this was immediately taken by some bampot with a face like a bee-keeper’s apprentice, forcing me to share a table. Now look: I’m a social guy and I like a conversation but only on my own terms – on a train, unless his cock is nudging against my knees under the table, I’m never going to be keen.
So of course, I was immediately joined by a chap who wanted to talk about business and nonsense and his marriage, and this was all before I’d finished fussing around in my bag and making sure I had easy access to the four bags of Haribo that I’d spent eighty quid on in WH Smith. I feigned polite interest until I managed to detangle my headphones then gave him a ‘long day mate, just gonna relax’ smile to get him to shut the fuck up. He didn’t. He was lovely, don’t get me wrong, but by the time we reached Durham and I’d taken my headphones out for the eighteenth time I was four blinks away from smashing his teeth out with the wee red emergency hammer which was tantalisingly close.
Luckily, the train manager provided him a distraction when she came around with the ‘free food and drinks’, which amounted to a cheese muffin that had survived the Cold War and wine: red or white. I had to pinch myself to remember I wasn’t on the Orient Express, truly I did. I ordered white wine and was pushed into a cup of tea to go with it (the perfect pairing!). Must have made her day because she clearly poured the white wine from the same kettle as the tea. Warm? I could have made a Pot Noodle with it. I had five more glasses because it was free, of course. Chatty Man stopped his nonsense once we were past Darlington (amazing what the sight of an impoverished war-zone can do for a good mood) and I was left in relative silence for the rest of the journey.
Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram decided to have a shitfit at this point meaning there was literally nothing to do, so the three hours just flew by. There was a curious moment when a businesswoman sat next to me, then got up and sat across the aisle ten minutes later and started crying. I tried to catch her eye to reassure her that one day she too could smell as good as me (Maison Margiela, Across Sands eau de parfum, since you were wondering: I’m giving the Tom Ford a rest) but she wouldn’t look at me. I thought about changing my Wifi Hotspot name to ‘sorry love, that’ll be the cheese muffin and hot wine’ but that seemed like altogether too much hassle, so I left her to her wracked sobs.
I want to qualify that last sentence though: I’m not a monster. If I had a chance to do my ‘there there’ voice and ask if she was alright, but there was a very clear ‘everyone leave me be’ vibe. Hmm. Now I’m thinking about it, I hope she’s out there with a smile on her face and not floating in the Mersey. Contact me if you’re reading this: I was the chap in leather who was spilling over into your seat. Perhaps that’s why you moved, maybe it was me shallow-breathing through my nose, perhaps you were upset I never offered you one of my Starmix. Who knows?
The train dropped me off in Liverpool and after a short argument with Google Maps (I don’t trust technology) I found my hotel, had a lovely plate of the very best Iceland microwave bits they could find, read my Point Horror book (it was the best friend all along!) and after checking Paul hadn’t killed himself in my absence, went to bed. I actually didn’t make it that far, I fell asleep fully clothed because I couldn’t be arsed to take my boots off. Which sounds lazy, until you realise I was wearing these:
Once all laced up and tight, it’s actually quicker to saw off my own legs than it is to clit about trying to untie them enough so they can slip over my cankles. I woke up bright and literally breezy the next day with Storm Gareth making the windows rattle and after picking newsprint off my face, went to meet my mate.
Remember a few posts ago there was a foul-mouthed recipe for roast potatoes and a guide to a buffet that would have made your gran blush? Well, that was the chap (Paul II) I was meeting up with – thrashing out negotiations for payment for his blog post Theme Park style (wouldn’t work through, I have tiny hammy hands, he has hands like a water-swollen badger corpse). What better way to immediately test a friendship than to try an escape room together?
Boy, were we good. We’re both massive fans of the escape room format (as previously discussed) but it’s always a risk doing one with an unknown personality – and you never know which personality either of us is likely to have on any given day. However, Team Myra and Ian’s Cassette Mix were a delight, even if the name made the room host wince. The theme was time travel and although I spent the first thirty minutes taking it far too seriously and desperately searching for a button to plummet me back twenty years, we escaped with a good thirteen minutes to spare.
And mind, this room was hard. A tiny central room which opened up four times over to reveal scenes from different times, meaning one minute you were fumbling around trying to work out the moves to Saturday Night Fever (or, as I call it, cock-throat) and next you were working out morse code to discover where the nukes were dropping. It was very well done indeed and the combination of someone being excellent at maths and sweating (Paul II) and the other being great at words and getting in the way meant we absolutely nailed it. Before we went in we were full of bravado and told the Host that she mustn’t give us clues and that we were super-clever. We only caved once, and to be honest I think that was more her stepping in before we ended up wrestling on the floor with him trying to extract my Mind Stone.
A brief tour of Liverpool followed and I’ll say this: I had in my head some dystopian town, full of homelessness, graffiti, no-go areas, low value shops and gruff, barely literate shufflers. I realise my error now, in retrospect: due to the addition of Liverpool Cathedral, it’s actually classed as a city. Silly me! No I jest: what a beautiful place – I was very pleasantly surprised.
Speaking of pleasant surprises, Captain Marvel was next. We were temporarily held up by some pipe-cleaner in a Burtons suit who not only pushed in front of me in the popcorn queue but then who proceeded to hand me his card to tap it on the contactless point. If I’d been less tired and emotional I’d have thrown his Vanquis card straight into the nacho cheese pan and let him suffer the third degree burns needed to it out. It was bad enough paying a trillion pounds for two fizzy worms, let alone repeating the process for him.
There’s always a frisson of excitement going to the cinema with someone new, isn’t there? Are they a talker? Will they want to share your sweets? Will they spend half an hour asking ‘who is that’ and ‘why are they talking’ and ‘why is that cat on fire?’ etc? I was fearful as to whether I’d be able to hear Captain Marvel kicking off over the sound of his nose whistling – it was like being sat next to an idling bus – but all was well, with only minimal dipping into my sweets bag (not a euphemism, readers – or for good measure, Paul I). Captain Marvel was a perfectly pleasing romp with simply the best angry pussy committed to film since Teeth.
We then had a wander around some of the finest shops known to man (dressing like I was on remand and trying to turn my life around had never seemed so possible!) and ended up down on Albert Docks, where I was furious to discover that they had taken away the This Morning weather map. I mean honestly: it served as a handy paedo-holding pen if nothing else. I blame Alison Hammond. For everything that has gone so astonishingly wrong in my life. A quick restorative coffee and a ham and cheese toastie in Costa and it was time for Escape Room 2. Again, we made lots of small talk with the very handsome cub behind the counter (my heart sank when he mentioned his wife) (and then rose again when I remembered how many times I’ve had ‘don’t tell the wife’ muttered emotionlessly into my ear) and asked that we weren’t given many clues. Old pros, you see.
Well fuck me: we were terrible. The room was Viking themed and terribly clever, but some of the clues were a little too abstract for my tastes. We spent the first twenty minutes shrieking and banging cups about before things started to click into place – you always know you’re onto a winner when a bookshelf slides open revealing another two rooms to complete. But boy, did we need help. What started out as ‘only raise your hands if you’re desperate for a clue’ became such a farce that I’m surprised she didn’t dash in to see if I was standing on an exposed electrical wire.
At one point you had to climb into a Viking barge and row in unison to the soundtrack of a man shouting commands. In theory, easy, but see it required me to perch on a tiny seat with Paul II (we need a better name) immediately behind, and well, we’re both husky gentlemen. My back fat hindered his forward stroke (story of his life) and his Honey Boom-Boom frame blocked my backwards movement (story of my life). What should have taken a matter of moments took nearly four minutes of solid rowing, though I imagine that was due to the hostess spending three minutes and forty seconds silently dry-heaving at the sight of us sweating and panting through mild exercise. We’d have looked like two bouncy castles attempting coitus.
However, we did escape, and with plenty of time on the clock. She was very positive about our efforts but there was a glint of second-hand embarrassment in her eye that suggested we’d be on the staff Christmas Party blooper-real. Ah well. We never needed anything spelling out – except how to use the defibrillator – and actually, for two fat blokes still grappling with each other’s idiosyncrasies and personality traits, we did alright.
We finished off the day with a cocktail or two in Revolution. Fun fact: I haven’t been in a Revolution since before Paul I days, and the very last time I was there I gave an old-fashioned to my married manager. Funnily enough, he said don’t tell the wife too, especially pertinent since she worked in another team across the floor. Come again? Yes.
I’m beyond this current trend to put all sorts of tat in with a cocktail. I ordered something sickly sweet – a Cherry Hot Karl or something – and it came with slush and a scattering of rainbow drops. I’m comfortable enough in my sexuality not to be phased about carrying the drink equivalent of twink night in a sauna through a crowded bar but there was a guy sat next to us with arms as thick as my legs – fraction less stretch marks though – and I could feel his judgement. I loved it.
In no time at all it was time to say goodbye / get the fuck back to the train station so he didn’t miss his connections. The walk was no problem for him: he’s six foot four and can cover distance surprisingly quick given his gazelle like pins – but I had to hide my agony as my feet were flayed in my boots. It was unusual being the short one and I now have a newfound appreciation for Paul I’s vista of having to look up all the time. I like an ass in my face, don’t get me wrong, but not when it’s billowing out breakfast-scented death as it galumphs up a flight of stairs.
It had been a great day with a marvellous friend but now it was over, he was on his way back to the land that vowels forgot and I was left with an hour to kill in twilit Liverpool. I decided to spend that hour pooping in John Lewis (he didn’t mind) and spraying myself with industrial levels of expensive aftershave before realising, far too late, I was a good distance from the train station with only minutes to spare. Power-mince? I sashayed so hard I brought the paving slabs up. I made it with moments to spare and enjoyed a lovely trip home, with only an hour to spend in York despondently waiting for a connection that never came.
Still: at least I had the total absence of free snacks and drinks to cheer my soul whilst I waited. Pfft.
And that folks, was my day trip to Liverpool. It’s been a while since I did some proper writing so I apologise for the length, but you bloody loved it. Next time I visit there’ll be more culture, more umming and aahing at galleries, more cooing at national treasures. Aye rights – it’ll be more escape rooms and Infinity War. Yasss!
Suppose we ought to do a recipe, eh? Let’s knock out the cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers – just something super easy for breakfast that is better than your usual pap.
Aye it's a cheese toastie, but hey, let's call it breakfast soldiers and just get on with it. Fussy knickers. This makes enough for two, or if you're like us, one person with double portions. And yes, they're called cheesy hammy breakfast soldiers, but that's because the thought of having a soldier for breakfast amuses me.
four slices of whatever wholemeal bread you can have on your SW diet (2 x HEB)
160g of grated mature cheese (oh I know - you don't need that much really, you could get away with saving half for your other HEA)
good quality ham
bit of dijon mustard
boil four of the five eggs to however you like them
smear a bit of mustard on half of the bread, add ham, add most of the cheese, add the other slice of bread so you're left with two sandwiches
beat the remaining egg and add the rest of the cheese then dip the sandwiches in
fry them in a dry non-stick pan until the cheese melts and the crust forms
Tortilla pie awaits you at the bottom, under all this guff. Do be a love and take a look.
Yes, we’re back.
It seems fitting that not long after Cher announces her comeback, we make a triumphant return. Listen, I’m robotic, tuneless, ageless and popular with those light in the loafers, but you don’t need to pay £600 to hear me blasting out Believe. I’ll do it for a pack of Frazzles and a quick punch of my backdoor by your husband.
You know they say the road to hell is full of good intentions? Ours certainly is: we fully intended to come back with new recipes after Canada…and we did, briefly, but then we buggered off to Tokyo. Then Christmas necessitated full concentration as we worked on turning ourselves spherical. Our road isn’t full of good intentions so much as it has many lay-bys and each one of them has a Hungarian lorry driver in it who is missing his wife. You know what it’s like – you get your head down, close your eyes and poof – three months have gone by.
How are we? Let’s touch on a few of the regular beats of this blog and I’ll update accordingly. Paul and I are fine: both still fattened by Christmas, not sleeping enough and spending far too much money on trinkets and holidays. We continue on our merry-go-round-and-round of ‘fresh starts’ and ‘let’s get healthy’ but it always dissolves the very second trade comes over who smells faintly of takeaway. I’m a sucker for a fat kebab, after all. We’ve had adventures: thrown ourselves off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, broke a robot in Tokyo, powerminced around the CN Tower in Canada, Paul’s pregnancy scare – but here we are at the start of 2019 in the unusual position of having nothing planned for the year ahead. I say that, we’ve got bootcamp starting next week so at least I can look forward to a trip in an ambulance and six months of hearing my mother desperately trying to convince the doctors to turn off my life-support. Cheers Christine, but it’s only a sprained ankle.
Tell you one thing though: I still feel old. I’ve never been one for navel-gazing – not least because my navel is currently hidden by my festive tits – but boy oh boy. I’ll be 34 this year, and that means it’s the last year where I can stay in the 25-34 field when signing Paul’s life insurance documents. This is terrifying to me. Assuming my lifestyle of sitting down at any given opportunity and counting crisps as a five-a-day because potatoes grow in the ground catches up with me, I can probably realistically expect to live to just 68. I’m halfway through my life and all I have to show for it is a nice house, many holidays a year and a fabulous beard (his name is Paul). Truly I am cursed. A friend of mine uses the question ‘how many partners have you had in the last three months’ during his visit to the clap-clinic as a measure of his success in life, I use how many months closer to the grave I am. However, I’m not letting this continuing existential crisis bother me, I promise – just a quick quiet sob in the lift at work when I realise my beard is streaked not with manschpackle but the salt-‘n’-pepper that comes to all men.
I asked Paul how he’s feeling and he said he’s alright. That’s the problem with Paul – he paints with words and it’s sometimes so difficult to pin down exactly what he means.
It’s a new year and whilst I’m not given over to making resolutions, I’ve made 4.
Family is fine – parents are working feverishly to make sure I don’t have any inheritance left and, out of the shrapnel that might fall out of my mother’s jackboots (who knew that the Wehrmacht catered for a size 2 shoe?), most of it will be going to my nephew. Tsssk. I know adopting a child out of sheer avariciousness is wrong but if it helps me get my hands on the family silver (the foil in my mother’s Lambest and Bitler) then maybe it’s an option. Gives me something to entertain myself with in between Switch releases.
Work continues ever onwards.
Neighbours – we’re still disliked as though we’ve personally been in each house and walked dog-shit into the carpet. We’ve been here five years and whilst there’s a few lovely ones, we still get all manner of shitty looks whenever we go outside. We get told (and we promptly ignore) where to park our cars, how to cut our garden and what flowers to plant. It’s all so presumptuous – I don’t knock on their doors to give them a guide to douching, although given how full of crap they are it might not be such a bad thing.
And finally, the blog itself. What started as a vanity project for my recipes has become a behemoth and a millstone, but in a mostly good way. We’ve got a few surprises coming down the line which I’M STILL NOT BLOODY ALLOWED TO TALK ABOUT, and lots to say!
Going forward, the plan is a weekly article and recipe, with the odd recipe sprinkled in when we can find the time. This way, you get regular updates but I don’t get myself a nervous breakdown trying to come up with my eightieth euphemism for vagina that night. Kid-shitter. Front-bum. Pink demon. This should also cut down on the sheer amount of idiots who message us whingeing about recipes or asking us to explain the plan in minute detail. I’d sooner rather listen to Ed Sheeran breathing heavily in my eye whilst his ginger beard dances across the back of my neck than have to spend ten more minutes trying to decipher what Shirley ‘School of Hard Knocks’ from Runcorn means by ‘cnt av pastargh hussband on fire owminty syns in tuffpast‘. You don’t know the toll it takes on a man to have 128 notifications of a morning and only three of them from bears with the rest of the notifications being from dinner ladies who should know better. I swear 40% of you only joined Slimming World because they spell sins as ‘syns’ and you thought you’d found a kindred spirit in The Fearless Leader Bramwell.
Kidding. Love you really. Let’s do the recipe then, shall we? Tortilla pie. Dead easy.
You have no idea how much I love Nigella Lawson. There's something about her tremendous hair, elegant way of chatting and her ability to eat absolutely everything with style that warms me to her. This is from her At My Table book, which I heartily recommend if you want to sit with your tongue hanging out. This takes less than five minutes to make and 15 minutes to cook - one of the easiest breakfasts we've ever made. Thank you Nigella!
This makes enough for two people. Cook it, cut it in half.
two wraps - make sure they're the HEB allowance, which changes every single time Margaret runs out of ultra-clutch Elnett - currently the Weight Watchers white wraps are free - racist
80g of extra mature cheese (40g being a HEA for one person, but in BOLD NEWS, you're allowed two healthy extras now - so feel free to double up the cheese again!)
as much cooked ham as you like
pinch of sea salt
optional: add a splash of hot sauce, some slices of tomato, spring onions...anything you like
ooooh, fuck that, add bacon - all the bacon
get yourself a wee sandwich tin and either Frylight it or use a drop or two of oil
squeeze one of the wraps into it, making a small bowl
drop in the ham, crack in the eggs (don't break the eggs up, you want what looks like a fried egg) and add a pinch of salt onto the eggs
add any extras and add a third of the cheese
frylight or use a drop of oil to brush over the second tortilla and place it oil side up on top - pinch it down around the sides
add all the cheese in the world and a good squirt of hot sauce on the top if you want it
bake it in the oven until the cheese is cooked and the wrap has brown and risen up on the side
serve with beans
Nigella's book, At My Table, is full of delicious recipes - you can't make them all syn free of course, but damn it, spend your syns on delicious food. There's a reason Nigella looks so good and it isn't eating crap food. It's on Amazon for around a tenner
How else could I make turkey and avocado toast exciting? Give it a title that’ll make sure it’ll get stuck in your spam filter at work and possibly get you hauled in front of HR for inappropriate Internet usage.
In my first job that exact scenario happened. In my defence I had no idea that we weren’t allowed to use the Internet when it was quiet, and we certainly weren’t supposed to be on gay interest sites. Not porn, no, outintheuk.com – but even so, loading forum threads about fisting and how to change the taste of your man-milk probably wasn’t wise. Oops.
Anyway, no chit-chat tonight, please. This is a super quick breakfast and therefore, it’ll be a super-quick recipe.
It's quick, it's easy, it's simple, it's trendy (probably). All I know is that the youth are all over them avocado things and we're so 'with it' we had to go along. HASHTAG YOLO FELLOWKIDS
50g sourdough bread (6 syns)
half an avocado, mashed (7 syns)
squeeze of lime, pinch of salt
cooked turkey slices or fresh turkey
really? come on now
I'll give you a clue: you don't put the avocado inside you other than via your gob
although, everyone likes a moo-moo oozing green
use any bread you like - even your HeB if you want. We used sourdough because it's our favourite!
yes, avocados are 14 syns each but do you really think they're less healthy than an unlimited amount of Mullerlights? Do you? Syn it if you want. We don't, but have for the recipe
Now come on, how easy was that? Just admit it, you want to have yourself a slice of this, climb on a penny farthing and open a moustache shop, don’t you? When we were last in London we saw a shop selling penny farthings and frankly, I’ve never wanted to throw a firebomb more. I mean come on. There’s being a tit and there’s being an awful tit. A megatit.
Want more breakfast recipes to spill down your blurter? Of course.
You’re doubtless here for the baked eggs in cheesy toast – it’s easily one of our quickest, easiest recipes – and it’s delightful. You could scroll straight to the recipe – look for the picture – but first, I have an important message. Perhaps you could humour me.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, you know. No, I know, it feels like it’s always some sort of week at the moment – I’m still eagerly awaiting the celebrations of ‘Comfortably Upholstered Northern Tubsters’ week, but until the day comes when I’m presented with a perspex sausage roll trophy by, oh I dunno, Gail Platt from Corrie, I’ll need to keep dreaming. But this is an important issue so I don’t begrudge writing about it.
Actually, speaking of Coronation Street, Aidan Connor’s suicide storyline really made me upset – it’s unbearable to think that people keep things bottled up to the point where they feel they can’t cope anymore – so, in the spirit of being open about our feelings, I turned to Paul and admitted that I would have given anything, simply anything, to fall asleep nestled comfortably between the wibbly-wobbly cheeks of Shayne Ward’s bottom. I’ve genuinely never known a man make a Zara funnel overcoat look so damn good. I was reading a news story about the actor where he expressed upset over the fact he’s been called fatty-boom-boom on Twitter and accused of having a dad body. How utterly ridiculous: a bit of a podge belly is perfectly natural as you get older, and I certainly wouldn’t hold his belly against him – I’d just balance it on top of my head in the usual fashion.
The storyline has done some amazing work highlighting that not everyone suffering with mental health problems is a shrieker and a wailer and your (lazy) stereotypical loon throwing their faeces around and punching at the clouds. It shows, rightly, that it can affect anyone, with no barriers, and that’s why it’s important to actually talk about it, get it out in the open, have an honest discussion about it.
I’ve gone on previously about my own mental health issue – health anxiety – and I won’t bore you with the details of it. I will say this, though: another year has passed and this year I’ve managed to beat a brain tumour (because of my tinnitus), mad cow disease (because my mother insisted on buying cheap mince for most of the eighties), Alzheimer’s disease (because I forgot where I parked, once, and that’s because I was driving Paul’s ‘car’ as opposed to my own), sepsis (cut myself handling compost) and breast cancer (another harmless lump in my boobs, most likely a Trebor Soft Mint). It’s exhausting being so healthy, I can assure you. Though that exhaustion is probably chronic fatigue syndrome. Bugger.
If you’re out there, and you’re suffering, there’s only two bits of advice I can offer you – and you’ll have heard them before, but I don’t care: maybe my words will be the ones that hit home, like a determined sperm: talk to someone and don’t give up. Now, choose wisely with the first bit of advice, I’m not suggesting you ring your taxi-rank and advise them that you’re seeing only blackness ahead – if they’re anything like my local taxi service, you’ll get twenty seconds of phlegm-soaked coughing and some racist dialogue in the background. No, choose a family friend, someone from work, a loved one, the cat or even a cushion. Vocalising your issues is cathartic, even if you’re talking to yourself. I’m forever talking to myself and find it reassuring – often those negative thoughts in your head are exposed for the nonsense they are once they float out of your gob. If you’re entertaining the ‘what if’ question (especially with your health), rephrase it as ‘what if it isn’t’ – do you really want to be wasting your life worrying about something that isn’t going to happen or, if it is, you can do bot-all about? For every spoken question you give yourself, provide two answers – the rational and irrational. Give yourself a fuller picture. And mind, if you choose to talk to someone rather than yourself, make sure you choose wisely. They’re few and far between, but there’s some folk out there who will gladly lend you an ear just so you don’t notice the knife they’re sticking in your back.
The don’t give up part, then. It’s such a trite thing to say, but you never know what’s coming around the corner. Well, Paul does, but that’s because he’s got boggle-eyes (I’m not saying he’s cross-eyed, but he does have to sit sideways to watch the television). Even if you aim for one day at a time, a day that doesn’t end with a trip in a black ambulance with me driving behind you trying to decide whether it’s appropriate to overtake is a good one. At my lowest I thought I’d be doolally forever – and actually, perhaps I am because mental illness never leaves you – but you learn to cope, then you learn to stop caring, then you forget why you were ever stressed. Until you wake in the night convinced that you’re dying because although it COULD be trapped wind, that pain in your belly is almost certainly bowel cancer and this is it, I’m off to reunite with my nana after three months of shitting blood. Difference is, each time that anxiety-blip happens, you learn a bit more how to cope with your worries, and the time it takes to get over your anxiety decreases. In short, it gets easier. It does.
Chins up, folks. Remember, there’s fuck all to be ashamed about if you’re out there and you’re struggling: you’re a human being. Yes, even you, with that moustache. You wouldn’t feel embarrassed if you broke your toe, why should your emotions be any different? I read here that 1 in 6 folks experienced a symptom of a mental health condition last week. Perhaps you’re not so unusual, after all.
Oh and as an aside, if you’re one of those arseholes who pretend you’ve got OCD because you have to check the oven is switched off once in a blue moon, please, stop. Obsessive compulsive disorder is a genuinely devastating illness that manifests itself in much stronger ways than the occasional ‘but did I’ moment on the drive to work. It doesn’t make you sound interesting or kooky, it makes you sound like a proper Comfortably Upholstered Northern Tubster.
OK we’re done. No more lectures. But please, do talk. To the recipe, then!
This super quick breakfast looks impressive but is actually a doddle to make on Slimming World - you can have two 'toasts' and it'll be syn free! Don't want to use your HEA as well as your HEB? We've got you - use slightly less cheese - 10g is only two syns. This recipe makes enough for one person to have two slices - just scale it up as you wish.
Remember my warning from the last time we used a Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll? Let me remind you...
But here's the thing. Gluten free food is expensive and it can be a proper pain in the arse to find if you are following a gluten-free diet. That's annoying when you want to cook with it, but what if gluten free was the only bread you could have and you had to do without because some div on Slimming World was too frightened about just having a breadbun? Before you pick it off the shelf, have a think.
one Schar Gluten Free White Ciabatta Roll (HEB)
30g of red leicester cheese (HEA) (or use less, and syn it at 10g for 2 syns)
chives, black pepper
optional: chilli sauce - yum! We use Flying Goose and syn it at 1 syn, but that's optional
preheat the grill
cut your roll in half and drop it into a hot, dry frying pan, toasting off the bottom of each slice
remove your bread and, using the bottom of a glass, press a well into the bread and crack an egg in, like so
sprinkle your cheese and chives on top, then grill for a few minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn - your egg should be solid, but the yolk nice and runny
serve - slather it with chilli sauce if you like your arse battered like us
not got chives? Don't panic - just use black pepper
if you were feeling decadent, you could always add chopped ham into your well
feel free to use a different bun - however, a ciabatta is good as it doesn't burn so quickly
There now! Looking for more breakfast ideas, you fabulous witch?
Ham, cheese and egg pancakes – well, it’s better than yet another overnight oats recipe, no? Bit of a preamble on this one so do just click here to go straight to the recipe!
Do you know who I can’t bear? Gavroche from Les Misérables. I jubilantly throw my box of Poppets in the air whenever that tatterdemalion shithead gets blasted in the stomach. Perhaps that makes me slightly psychopathic, celebrating the untimely end of a wee (albeit fictional) child, but there we have it. I’ve always been a Javert man, anyway.
I mention Gavroche as there was a kid in front of us at the swimming baths yesterday who was giving it such great funs with his loud, obnoxious shrieking that we elected to go for a spa day instead of a calorie burning frontcrawl. It’s half term: the children are off the roads but by God, they’re everywhere else, like lice on a dog.
It may surprise you that neither of us are born ‘spa boys’. The idea of people fussing about me with unctures and rubs holds zero appeal. However, we’re fortunate enough to live near a reasonable spa and, thanks to Groupon, entry was reasonably cheap. We did feel a bit out of place parking our muddy car in the sea of spotlessly white Range Rover Evoques (so-called, as they evoke feelings of ‘oh, what a smug looking c*nt’ whenever they swoosh past), and even more so traipsing in with our swim kit in an ASDA carrier bag. The lady on reception did blanch a little as we sashayed in. Pfft. I’m taking no judgement from someone who wouldn’t be able to register a look of surprise even if she dropped a pan of hot oil on her feet.
We’re realists – we weren’t going to inflict our naked, hairy bodies on someone whose on work experience certainly didn’t call for massaging our fat around like spreading butter on hot toast. Plus, I’m not one for being touched. I can take someone gripping my ears for stability and that’s about it. Although actually, I’ve heard masseuses prefer fat bodies as there’s more to work with, otherwise let’s face it, it’s like rubbing wax into a xylophone. I was having mild intestinal issues however, and didn’t fancy taking the risk of someone creating a biohazard by squeezing me like a tube of budget toothpaste. So, massages were off, and we decided to make use of the other facilities, which all involved some degree of sitting down and sweating. Couldn’t help but feel a bit ripped off, not least because I sit down and sweat just writing the blog.
Before that, a quick change. Luckily the place was quiet – not that I mind getting my knob out in front of folks, you understand, as a reasonably quick search on xtube will verify – and we were able to get changed in peace. Well – up until the point where it came to putting our stuff in the electronic lockers. We were just closing the door when a boiled beetroot in Jacamo shorts came barrelling over to shout at us / instruct us how to use the locker. It was a four digit pin, not the fucking Enigma machine, and I assured him we had it under control. He didn’t bugger off though, ‘supervising’ us as we locked our locker, leading to a slightly awkward moment where I had to shield the pin as though he was a street beggar after my money. Can’t be too careful. Satisfied that we had managed to satisfy Fermat’s last theorem / input four numbers into a locker, he lumbered off. We’d meet again.
Paul, keen to lose some weight through simple sweating, pushed us into the sauna. I hate saunas. I don’t see the appeal – I feel like a chicken breast in a sous vide machine, sweating and struggling to breathe through a dry heat of other people’s sweat and stink. Thankfully, unlike the other times I’ve used a sauna, there was no-one else in there – that’s great, because previous occasions have invariably had me sat oppostite an old dude sitting with his balls out. Have you ever seen what happens to a scrotum in extreme heat? Mine becomes so elastic that I can throw them over my shoulder and have them banging about like one of those old clackers toys from the eighties.
What’s good about a sauna, anyway? This particular one was turned up to over 90 degrees. To me, that’s approaching boiling point. I get uncomfortably hot when someone lights a church candle the next village over. I tried lying down but that made my back-hair sizzle. I tried sitting but was worried I’d cauterise my bumhole shut. Standing was no better – I just felt faint and knew that if I passed out, there’d be no way Paul could lift me out and I’d end up in there forever, cooking and desiccating until I ended up looking like Madge, Dame Edna’s assistant. I stayed in as long as I could but then had to dash out.
As I left the sauna our friendly neighbourhood beetroot appeared out of fat air and admonished me for not shutting the door quick enough, as though four seconds of the door being slightly ajar would reduce a room that was previously hotter than the surface of the sun down to the temperature of an Icelandic crevasse. I couldn’t tell if he was angry or just hot, though his skin had moved from rose to ruby coloured. For someone who had self-appointed himself as the King of the Spa, he certainly needed to fucking relax. I shut the door as quick as I could, leaving only four layers of skin crisping like bacon on the door handle. I thanked him. We’d meet again.
Paul slunk out of the sauna immediately after Al Murray had left, and we enjoyed a quick brisk shower before going for a sit in the aromatherapy room. I’m not going to lie: it was a novel experience to have the both of us in a heated room and for it not to smell like something has died behind a radiator, but there’s only so much pine scent you can inhale before you start getting light-headed and conscious of the fact you’re going to smell like an Air Wick for the next ten weeks. What is the aromatherapy room meant to do? I’m already Polo-shaped (I’m certainly mint with a hole), I don’t need to smell like one too. We left after about five minutes.
The last room was a steam room. To me, that’s just another sauna, but this time with steam. Woohoo! In we went, and there was Barry Big Bollocks spread-eagled, thankfully with his shorts on, steaming lightly. Now I could have cheerfully stayed in here save for the fact that the steam was clearly helping with his COPD, because no sooner had we sat down then he started coughing and hacking and clearing his throat as though he was drowning in phlegm. Nothing soothes the soul like steam and a fine miasma of the net result of forty straight years of chaining Lambert & Butlers. Every time our conversation halted he’d kick off again, clearly really getting in amongst his air-sacs for the full effect. He wasn’t so much clearing his throat as resurfacing the fucker. We left after about five minutes, speckled with blood and tar.
Only one thing left to do. The jacuzzi. I’m not a huge fan – let’s be frank, they’re nothing more than less portable hot-tubs – but hey, when you’ve spent twenty quid to get in, you have to get the use out of it. In we went. Now, yes, it was very pleasant, although they had positioned several jets in such a way that it was blowing my balls around rather a bit too dramatically in my swimming shorts. I had to move before my entire ball-sack floated to the surface and acted like a pool cover.
But even here I couldn’t relax. With my belly being pummelled from all directions, my fear of accidentally sharting and ruining the whole experience for everyone else was too much. Can you imagine how mortifying that would actually be? The more brazen amongst you might have been able to bluff it out by pretending you’d spilled a can of oxtail soup in the water but come on. I had to get out.
In all, we spent about 30 minutes at the spa and came out slightly pink and far less relaxed than when we went in. Best part for me was having Paul use the hairdryer in the changing rooms to dry my bum hair – such luxury! The receptionist asked if we had a nice time given it seemed as though we had hardly stayed. Naturally, we lied and said it was wonderful and we’d cheerfully come again, before spending the entire home bitching about everything. This is why we can’t have nice things, see. She did offer to see if someone was free to give us a pedicure but when I asked her if said person would be proficient in using a belt sander, she didn’t get the joke. We all mutually agreed that we ought to move on.
Sigh. Speaking of moving on, let’s do the recipe for ham, cheese and egg pancakes, eh?
I was going to call this recipe croque madame crêpes but Christ, I’ve seen how some of you lot spell two chubby cubs, I’m not going to start adding circumflexes into the mix. Without a moment of delay, let’s get to the recipe!
Something new and tasty for breakfast for those days when you can't face spooning yet another load of dry as old nick overnight oats into your aching gob.
For the basic pancake batter, we're using the pancake advice from February, namely:
My recipe makes enough for six pancakes - four which will be filled with ham and cheese, and then two extra for gobbling. It's either that or having to mess about with smaller ingredients. Don't be tempted to fart about blending oats or any of that nonsense, there's simply no need. You're so much better have a couple of real pancakes and cracking on. Oh and if you find yourself reaching for a wrap instead of making a pancake, please, throw yourself into the sea.
TO MAKE THE PANCAKES
50g plain flour (8 syns)
150ml of skimmed milk (2 and a quarter syns, but really, 2 syns)
So that's ten syns for six pancakes. But I'll syn them at 1.5 syns because you can bugger off if you think I'm putting 1.66666666666666 syns per pancake.
FOR THE FILLING
whatever ham you fancy
60g extra grated mature cheese (2 x HEA)
So to be clear, you're having two filled pancakes each, and you'll have enough batter leftover for a third if you want to scoff that too!
blend all the pancake ingredients together - add a pinch of...a pinch of...bleurgh...a good grinding of pepper, please
now, depending on your skill in the kitchen, you could fry the eggs in one pan and prepare the pancakes in another, but let's assume you've got the cooking skills of a turnip, and go step by step
fry your eggs off - don't cook them into full submission, you still want a bit of give on the yolk so it pops
pop your fried eggs on a plate on the side and start making your pancakes - a couple of sprays of olive oil, nice hot pan, tip a sixth of the batter in and quickly spread it around the pan
once the pancake has 'dried out' and coming away from the pan, flip it over - don't be frightened, you've got spare batter
once it is flipped, layer 15g of cheese in the middle, top with the ham and the fried egg
fold the sides of the pancake over like in the photo and cook for about thirty seconds to melt the cheese a bit
top with chives and eat!
Honestly, it sounds like a faff, but all this recipe is is a pancake stuffed with cheese and ham and egg - if you balls it up, it might not look great, but it'll taste absolutely fine. Remember, aim for taste, not perfection!
we whisk up our batter in our Nutribullet - gets rid of any lumps, but honestly, a bowl and a fork will do the same job and get you some Body Magic. Don't buy one just for this - though they are very good!
Now come on, that was easy! But if you fancy something different for breakfast, why not try something new from our list?