Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How's this going to help?

My absence over the bank holiday weekend was not due to my making the 1000 mile round trip to Aberdeen and back so that I could stand in a queue for Mr Stuart to sign me a copy of his book. Not even I'm that stupid - I'll wait until Harrogate and get him to sign it then. No, I was driven from the comfort of my cold little study, and access to my computer, by the arrival of the Horse Doctor's mother, aunt and uncle for a visit .

We can cope with singular visitors, or a couple at a pinch, but when more than one bed is required, I have to dismantle my desk, hide all my rubbish up in the loft, and relinquish my study to whichever visitor draws the short straw. Our guests left yesterday, but it's taken me this long to put everything back together. Still, the Horse Doctor's uncle and aunt came all the way from Melbourne, Australia, so it would have been churlish to refuse them. When we were over there, they put us up and did our laundry for us.

That's not to say the weekend was without its trials. I won't be rude and go into details, other than to say that the Horse Doctor's mother arrived bearing gifts, and two of these were tray-bakes.

If you don't know what a tray-bake is, then imagine a rectangle of full-fat, sugar-laden shortbread about ten inches by twenty and maybe a half inch thick (that's 25cm by fifty, and a centimetre thick, for you metric types). Onto this, pour a quarter inch of thick caramel made by mixing condensed milk, butter and sugar together then cooking on a low heat for a while. Then, on top of this, smooth about a quarter inch of melted fatty milk chocolate, cheap is good.

OK, so that's millionaire shortbread. Other tray-bakes take different forms - there's the one which is broken biscuits, maltesers and chocolate all melted together into a sticky mess, the one which has a white chocolate topping over crumbled shortbread and thick set custard, and so on and so on.

They also have a curiously narcotic effect on me. I don't know why it is, but I find myself thinking 'hmm, there's some tray-bakes in the fridge. I could go and have a bit.' Even when I've just finished a hearty meal. Something about the mix of fat and sugar, the tacky whiff of cheap chocolate, the illicit thrill of doing something I know I shouldn't do. It's quite extraordinary - I've found my weakness.

The bottom line is that I can't resist these enjoyable, fast ways to a heart attack and a sure-fire recipe for an ever-expanding waistline.

Now, normally I'm not that vain. I like to take care of myself, but if there's something sweet and sickly that needs eating, I'll eat it. When it's finished, I'll work off the extra weight with a few miles of pounding the forestry trails. I don't buy sweets or make cakes myself (except to order, for other people), so they're rarely in the house to tempt me. These two tray-bakes need not be an insurmountable problem.

However, for reasons I'm not allowed to go into right now, I have to be able to get into my kilt at the beginning of July. The last time I tried to get into my kilt, it was a wee bit ticht, as they say in parts where the kilt is worn. Not painfully so, but enough to lessen the enjoyment of fresh air on the tackle. So I've set myself the task of trimming a couple of inches from my midriff in the next two months. Four would be better, but I need to have a sense of achievement rather than disappointment.

Easy, you'd think. And even without resorting to extreme measures like amoebic dysentery, tapeworms or botulism. All I need to do is eat a little less and exercise a little more. Given my lack of running recently, the latter should require only that I get myself up off my arse a little more often. I can do it, I know I can.

But tray-bakes don't help.

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Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...


If you were a real friend and really concerned about your health it would be simple.

You would have walked to Aberdeen for the signing, thus generating media attention for Stuart's book and wearing off the equivalent of every tray bake you've likely ever indulged in.

I just know when you launch your book Stuart will do that for you. Of course, he'll likely stop in every pub along the way and more than make up for the effort. ;)

who is just filled with creative ideas lately, none of which anyone is happy to hear about though

May 08, 2007 4:25 pm  
Blogger Vincent said...

Mmm, millionaire shortbread...

May 08, 2007 4:58 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Sandra, I'm always happy to hear about creative ideas. Just don't sue me when they turn up in my stories;}#

Vincent, it's addictive isn't it. They must put something in when they're making it. Probably coke or speed.

May 08, 2007 5:57 pm  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

If you can find a way to use this, I will laugh and cheer. More power to you! The only thing that comes to mind is Stuart nibbling on sweets to the point he just rolls to your signing, and I'll be in a big pile of trouble if he catches wind of that.

May 08, 2007 9:36 pm  
Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

I have no intention of catching whiff of your wind Sandra.

And James, can I recommend sinus surgery for a quick weight-loss plan? And best of all, you loose so much blood that a small sweet sherry will have you bleezing in no time!

May 09, 2007 10:23 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

No, no. No bleezing. I've go to try and avoid making a complete tit of myself. Alcohol's just too dangerous.

I'll just have to stick to my rigourous *ahem* exercise plan. That and maybe a girdle.

May 10, 2007 7:41 am  

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