Idle Eye 109 : The Cotswold Diner

Like Cornwall, the trouble with the Cotswolds is that they’re woefully inadequate at catering for regular folk. By which I mean that every idyllic bar and restaurant, set in local stone and staffed by enthusiastic pin-striped undergraduates, leaves in its wake a paucity of eateries affordable to the indigenous population that isn’t a flame-haired former news editor or her tit of a husband. Even your bog-standard takeaway has been usurped by Cameron’s cronies, now profiteering proudly from weak puns and an artisan prefix. So, where to fill up without spunking away your wages when buried deep in the West Country?

Good question. And if you are holed up in a country B&B, your options are drastically reduced. For you must either drive to one of these godforsaken places, or learn to enjoy the pleasure of your own company with a Waitrose 2 for 1 nuclear meal and a bottle of anything red that will stay down. A Sophie’s Choice, basically. But then I got to thinking (necessity being the mother of all invention): What if I could harness that 1987 Panasonic Destroyer of All Hopes & Dreams to my own advantage? Perhaps even rustle up something my guts wouldn’t instantly reject, and in record time? The mind began to work overtime, like it’s supposed to do during sex or at the moment of violent untimely death…

As luck would have it, I discovered a Microwave Oven Recipe Book nestled alluringly between a brace of curry menus, purposefully placed in order to offer the budget diner the illusion of opulence. For example – How about some plaice fillets in a white wine sauce? Preparation comes in at a mere 10 minutes, presumably the time it takes to leap into the Thames in Hunters waders and net a couple of the flat bastards before they hightail it off in their inherited Aqua Rover. What’s more, the end result serves four people, a salient glimpse into the lives of others as you attempt to scrape the charred remains of sliced mushroom from the duvet cover. And if you’re feeling adventurous, why not round off the evening with a pineapple upside down cake? Simultaneously conjuring up Hawaii and the 1970’s, this delightful pudding is rustled up in seconds if you happen to have a greased soufflé dish stowed away in your rucksack and can handle 100g of refined sugar before the witching hour.

Sadly I don’t and can’t, to say nothing of the potential shame involved. To fail at cookery is one thing, but to fail at fan-assisted cookery in the seat of all things cookery is quite another. So I bailed, as you’ve probably guessed by now. However, tonight acquainted me with a spectacular 2012 Sangré de Torro (a snip at £8.99) and guess what? That family bag of farm-raised, oak-smoked Gloucester Old Spot flavoured crinkly kettle chips hand-picked by Dave on 26/02/14 doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Idle Eye 102 : The All Fun Dulwich Mum Run

Adrenalin junkies. Forget Sochi, forget bungee and forget all that Cornwall freak wave surfin’ stuff. You want thrills? Well, look no further. Idle Eye has the sickest tip onna block right now, na’ameen? C’mon kids, it’s the All Fun Dulwich Mum Run and here’s how it works:

Your mission is to get from Gipsy Hill roundabout to the Majestic Wine Warehouse on Park Hill Road (a mere 0.7 miles from start to finish) between the hours of 7.00 and 9.00am. On a bicycle. Armed only with the wits you were born with and an unmitigated faith in humanity, you must arrive at your destination unscathed, alive and in full control of your vehicle. You have no special powers, no protective clothing and no armoured shield. You do, however, have an invisibility cloak known only to your adversaries. Using your skill and judgement, you must traverse your route avoiding all enemy apparatus, from Volvo Estate (6 points) to Range Rover Evoque (25 points) and anything in between.

Beware! Your foe will not lie down lightly, oh no. Its diabolical spawn will attempt to dislodge you, head on, as they leave their designated ship with the entitled opening of passenger door into your given path. Fear not. Hold your nerve. They are unspeakably ugly and will almost certainly end up as education secretary or somesuch. Sadly, they do not yet know this so steer clear if at all possible. Also they are wearing short trousers which you stopped doing in 1977. Clock it and move on.

You look like a bag of spanners, that’s a given. But your Dulwich Mum spends more time than you’ve had hot dinners on her ‘dropping the kids off’ weekday casual look. Remember this when you’re smarting from that ‘turd in my teacake’ withering glance you will almost certainly receive as you slalom yourself out of danger.

It is, of course, possible to run this particular gauntlet by car, milk float or mobility scooter. But it is the bicycle that attracts maximum scorn and is therefore considered by our panel to be most suitable for the challenge. “To be truly hated is to be truly understood”, as someone once said. And no-one is more hated than a cyclist on the All Fun Dulwich Mum Run. Which makes you the perfect candidate. Feels good, right?

You like Hunters wellies? You like Barbour jackets? Of course you don’t. So why not unleash your pent-up fury with that arsenal of oomska you’ve been accumulating for weeks like all good cyclists do and hurl it into the next static vehicle you pass? Don’t worry, they will be expecting this and it looks good on your CV.

The Idle Eye in no way endorses the Majestic Wine Warehouse as an incentive for you to achieve your objective. It just happens to be there at the end of Alleyn Park. And look at the time. Enjoy responsibly drinkaware.co.uk

Nearest A&E: Kings College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS

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