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.
You can check out their rooms and make a booking here – tell them I sent you. You won’t get a discount but you can ask them to dish the gossip on how terrific I smell in real life.
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!
cheesy eggy crumpets
Yield 4 crumpets
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.
- I mean...guess?
- 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!
- book one remains a joy to behold too, and a bit cheaper: click here to order
- if you need help tracking your weight loss well we have just the thing - our diet planner: here
- the George Foreman we use is currently cheap on Amazon and we do love it so
- we use good non-stick Ingenio pans because lord knows it's a pain in the arse using anything else when you have an induction pan
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.