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Cruise Blog: The Symphony of the Seas

22nd October – 29th October, 2022

Thursday 20th October, 2022

Travelling to Miami

We decided to drive to the airport and leave our car with a Meet and Greet service by Blue Circle from Holiday Extras which included a stay at a hotel the night before.

We arrived at the Mercure hotel and booked into our room and discovered that we had been upgraded to a Privilege room, excitedly we looked to see what our perks would be: a carton of orange juice and can of Fanta in the mini-bar and dressing gown and slippers in the wardrobe! I did make use of the orange juice in the morning though…

We were travelling with our friends who we were spending the first week on board the Symphony of the Seas with and then they were spending a further week on board the Explorer of the Seas, whilst we were travelling back home.

We had spent £32 on a pre-paid dinner package, which included starter, main course, pudding and a drink, so we went down to the restaurant to see what was on offer. The meal was okay, but both Phil, my husband and Ian, ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala which by all accounts was very, very hot!

After a couple of drinks, we all headed back to our rooms as we had quite an early start. Having booked our flights through Royal Caribbean at different times, we had different flights, so wouldn’t be seeing each other again until we were on board the ship.

Friday, 21st October, 2022

The next morning, we drove to Heathrow Airport and left our car with the Blue Circle Meet and Greet, which when we found them, was quite painless.

From there we headed to Terminal 3 Aspire Lounge, which was very full and people who hadn’t booked were being turned away. It was difficult to find a seat, but once we had settled down we tucked into hot breakfast and coffee.

We were travelling with American Airlines and I found their app very useful. It gave you the latest information about the flight, the gate number and even your boarding pass, so checking in with the suitcases was easy and quick. On board the plane, they had many films, TV shows, etc., to watch and I found myself enjoying Mrs Harris Goes To Paris and the BBC’s comedy, Ghosts, (even though I’ve seen them all a few times before!) Phil enjoyed Oasis at Knebworth and Top Gun Maverick.

We arrived at Miami at 5.30 PM local time which was 10:30 PM, England time and we searched for the shuttle bush to the hotel we would be staying in, which was The Hilton, Blue Lagoon Hotel. Eventually the transport turned up and we boarded the vehicle to take us to our hotel and which only took about 20 minutes. This was free of charge by the hotel.

After being told we were too late to book on the 10:15 AM shuttle to the port, we decided to get a taxi in the morning and headed to the pool bar for our evening meal, by this time it was about 1:00 AM England time and we were shattered. As soon as the meal was finished we headed back to our room and we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow!

Saturday, 22nd October, 2022

The next morning we went down to the lobby to check out and went to the concierge to book a taxi, to be told that we could go on the shuttle for $13 each! So, we didn’t need telling twice, we paid the driver (who seemed a little stressed with a couple of the women who didn’t have their luggage labels) and then we left for the port!

After what seemed like ages, we arrived at the port and after dropping people off at different cruise ships, it was our turn, we turned the corner and there she was: Symphony of the Sea in all her glory, we were nearly boarding after two days of travelling!

Take a look at the video:

To see a video of what we got up to with lots more photographs and videos, take a look at the YouTube video:

Our time in London to see the Procession to Westminster Hall of HM The Queen’s coffin

14th September, 2022 was our 37th Wedding Anniversary and we were due to go to London and treat ourselves to a cream tea at the Savoy at 14:00 hours. However, our circumstance changed on Thursday, 8th September, 2022 when it was announced that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II had died.

We decided at that moment to cancel our cream tea and instead go to London to pay our respects. We then heard that the Procession to Westminster Hall of HM The Queen’s coffin was to take place on the Wednesday and so we amended our plans to a much earlier start time, so hopefully we could get a good view of the procession.


Alexa woke us up at 4:30 AM and we set off for our hour and a half hour journey to Richmond, where we always park our car at Old Deer Car Park as it’s not so expensive as further into London and at Richmond you can catch either Underground or Overground trains to the centre of London.

We caught the overland train to Waterloo, which was quite busy and got us into central London at 7:18 AM and we made our way to Westminster.

The Cenotaph where we were standing

We found a spot right next to the Cenotaph and decided that would be a good vantage point and so dumped our rucksack and began our long, long wait.

Not long after, a couple of men stood behind us and explained that they had been waiting further up but were moved on by the police as the area was going to be cordoned off at 10.00 AM. We bunched up a little bit and let them stand next to us as they had been waiting for a while already. They introduced themselves and we were surprised when we found out that they didn’t know each other, they just started talking to each other whilst standing by the barrier, their names were Michael and John.

After introducing ourselves, John stated he was off to the Chelsea match later on and then hubby said he was a Spurs fan and Michael stated he was an Arsenal fan, we decided not to talk about football after that!

Although we had assumed our position at around 7.45 AM and the procession wasn’t leaving Buckingham Palace until 2.22 PM, we found there was plenty to keep us amused. We talked about what we all did for a living, which imagine our surprise when John and Michael found out they both worked for the same phone company, at the same headquarters, but because of Covid they were both working from home! It is a small world indeed!

We watched as the road sweepers and dust carts patrolled Whitehall up and down, up and down and once again, making sure the road was spotless and we watched the Police dogs sniffing around drains. I did get a bit worried when one of the dogs lurched towards me, but I think that was more to do with the ham sandwich I was holding!

London was eerily quiet, there were no cars, taxis or buses on the roads, the crowds weren’t noisy, everyone seemed to be in a very thoughtful and respectful mood and when the time approached for the parade to leave Buckingham Palace, the crowd grew silent, there was not a noise to be heard anywhere.

When we strained our ears to hear the music approaching, I had butterflies in my stomach, I couldn’t believe I was going to see this historic event first hand.

The whole procession only took a matter of minutes to pass, but it was incredibly moving and we felt so privileged to have seen this event.

I have uploaded the video I took onto YouTube:

When the procession had passed, we said our goodbyes to Michael and John and made our way to Buckingham Palace. It was very crowded around here and so we didn’t stay very long and we made our way back to Waterloo train station, tired after such a long day, but very pleased we had done it!


The next morning, we woke up to watch the news and saw the queues for the Lying of State of HM Queen, we both looked at each other and we decided that after work the next day, we would go back to London and join the queue – I will let you know how we got on during our 12.5 hour queue….

THE WALKING DEAD: S1 EP 5– WILDFIRE

After the attack of the walkers the previous day,
Rick calls Morgan on his walkie talkie he needs to say
That Atlanta has fallen, it isn't safe at all,
But he gets no response, another time he'll call.

Andrea is with Amy, she is very upset that Amy is dead,
Amy reanimates, Andrea cries, "I love you" and shoots her in the head. 
Jim is acting very strange around the campsite,
Jacqu discovers that he's hiding a bite. 
Daryl tries to kill Jim, but Rick is more forgiving,
He reminds Shane that, "We don't kill the living."
They then argue about the right course to take,
Rick wants to head to the CDC, Shane thinks this is a mistake. 

Shane tries to talk Lori into going to a military base,
But Lori backs her husband, the CDC seems the right place.
Whilst on a sweep of the woods, Shane has Rick in his sight,
He thinks about shooting him, but Dale is watching, it's not right.  
The group pack up their supplies and are to leave this home, 
When Morales says that his family will be heading off on their own. 
Dale's RV breaks down and they search for parts from cars nearby,
Jim asks that he be left under a tree, to be by himself to die. 

Edwin Jenner is in a high-tech laboratory, his progress is poor, 
It's been 63 days since the virus went global, he has no cure.
He has destroyed some diseased tissue, he really has tried,
Perhaps the only solution is that he commit suicide. 

Rick and his group arrive and there are walkers around,
They manage to get to the front door, where it's found
To be locked, so Rick seeing a moving camera, bangs on the door,
After a while the door opens, they enter, hoping they're safe once more.

Are You Being Served?

When you have so many different TV channels and different streaming platforms to watch, it is sometimes difficult to settle on a choice, but when I have a half an hour to fill, I find myself gravitating towards Are You Being Served?

From the catchy signature tune…

Ground floor: perfumery
Stationery and leather goods
Wigs and haberdashery
Kitchenware and foods
Going up

First floor: telephones
Gents' ready-made suits
Shirts, socks, ties, hats
Underwear and shoes
Going up

Second floor: carpets
Travel goods and beddings
Materials and soft furnishing
Restaurant and teas
Going up

…to the ever plentiful innuendos, farce and slapstick, to the weird and wonderful shop floor displays and the relationships between all the shop staff, this programme was a gem amongst sitcoms in the 70s and 80s.

History

The pilot episode was originally filmed as part of the Comedy Playhouse series for the BBC, but it was not broadcast. It was broadcast though when the 1972 Summer Olympics was interrupted by the Munich massacre and the BBC used it as a filler while the games were off air and this led to a full series being produced.

Unfortunately, the first series was scheduled opposite Coronation Street which was being shown on ITV, so the viewing figures weren’t very high, but the series was repeated later on in the year and this time the ratings were much higher.

The series lasted for ten seasons and 69 episodes between 8 September 1972 and 1 April 1985 and they also recorded five Christmas specials. There was a 1977 film and a spin-off series called Grace & Favour in 1991/1992.

Original Cast:

Mr Wilberforce Claybourne Humphries:

John Inman – Sales Assistant in the Gentleman’s Department, he often used double entendre in respect of his gay lifestyle. His reply to, “Are you free?” with a high pitched, “I’m free,” and an exaggerated walk was a highlight of the programme.

Quotes:
  • “I’m free!”
  • (In a deep voice: “Menswear.”
  • “Mr Grainger, are you free?”
  • “It’s unusual for me.”
  • “Before you say anything…”
Mrs Betty Slocombe

Mollie Sugden – With her brightly coloured hair, Mrs Slocombe was the Senior Sales Assistant of the Ladies Department and was always telling double entendre stories about her pet cat Tiddles, who she referred to as “my pussy.”

Quotes:
  • “…and I am unaminous in that.”
  • “Ooh, you’re as weak as water. Weak as water!”
  • “Oh, that does suit madam.”
Mr Dick Lucas

Trevor Bannister – The Junior Salesman in Menswear, always had a put down to Mrs Slocombe and was a bit of a womaniser, always making suggestions to Miss Brahms. He was, in fact, one year older than John Inman.

Quotes:
  • “I can see it all now…”
Miss Shirley Brahms

Wendy Richard – the cockney-speaking middle class Junior Sales Assistant to Mrs Slocombe, who went on to play Pauline Fowler in the long running tv soap opera, Eastenders.

Quotes:
  • “Ooh, they’s dead common.”
Captain Stephen Peacock

Frank Thornton – Grace Brother’s floorwalker who reminds everyone when he can that he fought in the North Africa Campaign of World War II but rumours were that he served in the Service Corp and never saw combat.

Quotes:
  • “Are you being served, sir?”
  • “Mr Humphries, are you free?”
Mr Ernest Grainger

Arthur Bough – One of the oldest serving members of Grace Brothers having worked for them for 40 years. Senior Sales Assistant in the Gentlemen’s department and prone to falling asleep whilst at work. He was in series 1-5 as he unfortunately passed away before filming series six.

Quotes:
  • “And don’t worry about the sleeves, they’ll ride up with wear.”
Mr Cuthbert Rumbold

Nicholas Smith – Floor manager of Ladies and Gents Department, bumbling and incompetent and prone to taking the praise for other members of staff’s ideas.

Quotes:
  • “It was a boardroom level decision.”
“Young” Mr Grace

Harold Bennett – Always surrounded by attractive secretaries and nurses, he was very rich, but also very stingy which led to some entertaining episodes.

Quotes:
  • “You’ve all done very well.”
Mr Mash

Larry Martyn – The maintenance man who installed the mechanised displays and was always in trouble with Captain Peacock for being on the shop floor during opening times.

Quotes:
  • Blows raspberry at Captain Peacock.
  • “It must be awful for you, to keep telling me off.”
Other cast members:

After Mr Grainger leaving the shop, his position was taken over by Mr Percival Tebbs (James Hayter) who retired after only a year in the men’s department, to be replaced by Mr Goldberg (Alfie Bass).

After Mr Mash’s departure, his position is filled by Mr Beverley Harman, (Arthur English).

Mr Bert Spooner (Mike Berry) replaced Mr Lucas as Junior Sales Assistant and “Young” Mr Grace was replaced by his older brother, “Old” Mr Grace (Kenneth Waller).

There were lots of secretaries during the show’s run, both for Mr Grace and also for Mr Rumbold, the longest serving was Miss Belfridge (Candy Davis) who was in series 9 and 10.


I hope you enjoyed this brief look at this long running comedy, set in a fictitious department store, with over the top characters and lots of innuendoes, I’ll leave the final word with Mrs Slocombe….

Marriage TV Show

Warning: This article contains spoilers!

As my husband spends a lot of time in his car with his job, he listens to a lot of radio and sometimes he comes home saying that there’s a new TV show that people on the radio have been raving about and we should definitely watch it. This was the case with Marriage, a BBC bittersweet programme about a couple who are in a long-term marriage.

We have been married for 37 years, so I had a mix of emotions whilst settling down to watch it. Would it reflect our marriage? Would there be scenes which are uncomfortable to watch? Or would we celebrate the parallels in our marriage reflected in this programme?

Well, the answer is yes, to all our questions.

Sean Bean plays Ian, who we find out has been made redundant and is by himself during the day left to his own devices and Nicola Walker is Emma, working in a law firm with a boss who has dubious ways to run his office. By day, Ian goes to the gym or the supermarket, trying to spark conversations with people and Emma is trying to bring the law firm into the 21st century by going online.

Just as a thought… maybe Ian would enjoy an episode or two of Game of Thrones?

Ian and Emma

We see them hug each other, give little kisses and hold each other’s hands, they have niggling arguments like the one about the jacket potato at the airport and we also see that they have experienced the heartache of a child dying, which obviously had a tremendous effect on their lives.

There are long silences whilst they clear up after a meal, each getting on with the duties they have performed repeatedly during their marriage, like a well oiled machine.

Even though there’s no fast-paced action, the couple are constantly at the beck and call of their family, whether it be Emma’s dad calling to see if she can fix the oven or Jess, their adopted daughter, moving out of her boyfriend’s flat, they are at the stage of life where people depend on them.

There was a lot of things we could relate to: the long silences, the household chores, the jokes which we have between ourselves, looking after older relatives and the younger ones and most importantly, just the every day emotional support we give each other.

You can look on Instagram and see the ‘perfect’ marriages, the fast-paced lives that people purport to be having, the tropical holidays, the wonderful children, but if you want to see what married life is really like, then watch this programme.

Dale Horvath

Dale
When the outbreak starts, Dale is on a trip in his RV,
His wife has died from cancer, he rescues Andrea and Amy.
They were in Atlanta and in the outskirts of the city,
They find a group of survivors who are very gritty.  

After a walker attack when some survivors die,
They pack up their bags and head for the CDC nearby.
Dr Edwin Jenner lets the group enter, it has hot food,
A shower, real beds, they feel safe,  not screwed. 

But the group finds out that the CDC is about to explode,
Dale tries to flee with Andrea, but she's doesn't want to go. 
He's not going to leave without her, this isn't what she wants him to say, 
At the last minute they run out of the doors and then drive away. 

They stop on a highway where there are lots of cars and trucks,
To search for food, for clothes, anything, they need some luck. 
Dale spots a herd of walkers coming straight towards where he's stood ,
He hides on the top of the RV, Sophie panics, and runs in the woods. 

Dale and  the group  meet up with Rick and Lori at a farm,
It is owned by Hershel and his family and it has a certain charm.
They set up camp  where they can continue in their search,
To find Sophie and not to leave her in the lurch.

Dale is told that Hershel keeps walkers locked up in a barn, 
He confronts Hershel, who says they are sick people, they mean no harm.
The group decide that the barn is unsafe, they must put down the dead,
They open the doors, a zombified Sophia emerges, she's shot in the head. 
 
Rick captures Randall, who is from a dangerous gang of men,
He says he needs to be killed, but Dale disagrees and then,
He patrols the farm and he spots a cow that is making no sound,
Dale turns around and is attacked by a walker, he falls to the ground.

He can't fight the walker off, it digs in and scoops out his insides,
The group hear his screams, "We can't save him," Hershel decides, 
"His injuries are too severe," and after saying sorry, Daryl shoots Dale,
He's buried the next day and in honour of Dale, they release the male. 
Dale’s death

Denise Cloyd

Denise
Denise was a student in pre-apocalyptic days,
She trained as a surgeon but her choice then sways
To psychiatry as she suffered from panic attacks,
But in The Walking Dead, she has to go back.

After the Wolves attack, Rosita brings in her first patient,
Holly is bleeding out and on Denise, she  is dependent.
Try as she might, Denise cannot revive
Holly and unfortunately she doesn't survive.

Tara discovers Denise sulking, sat on the floor,
She tells Tara she doesn't want to do this anymore.
Denise says that the patient she's treating is likely to die,
"Being afraid is a fear you have to overcome," Tara replies.

Denise researches through her medical collection,
She finds a way to stabilize her patient's infection.
She finds Tara and tells her she's found what's amiss,
And much to Tara's surprise, she gives her a kiss.
Denise and Tara
Morgan asks Denise to dispense him antibiotics,
She questions him, and Morgan tells her his tactics.
He has imprisoned Owen, a Wolf in a makeshift cell,
Who has an infected wound, it's not healing well.

Whilst visiting the Wolf and dressing his cut,
A fight breaks out between Morgan and Carol,  but
both end up unconscious on the cell room floor,
The Wolf is free, he isn't a prisoner, not any more.

Tara, Rosita and Eugene barge in,  they are ready to fight,
Owen holds the knife up against Denise's throat so tight, 
They lower their guns and slide them across the floor,
And Owen and Denise walk out of the door. 

Outside the street is full of walkers, they wait and then, 
they run to safety, but Denise is attacked and Owen defends
her, he gets bitten on the arm by a walker and it looks grim,
She tells him to come with her, so she can amputate the limb.

They shelter in a house and Denise ties a belt around his bitten arm,
They need to get to the infirmary, so he can come to no more harm.
Owen leads them both out, pushing through the walkers with zest,
but Carol sees them from a balcony and shoots Owen in the chest.

Owen is wounded and falls to the ground, he is eaten alive.
Denise makes it to the infirmary with those who have survived.
She sees Rick and Michonne with Carl who has a bloody eye,
Working methodically, she saves Carl, he's not gonna die.  

Denise asks Daryl and Rosita for help with a plan, 
A pharmacy in the area may have drugs,  which they can
bring back to Alexandria and use for the families,
Daryl and Rosita aren't sure but then they they agree. 

They reach the pharmacy and medical supplies are saved,
Denise picks up a key chain, the name Dennis is engraved.
Daryl guesses that Dennis was her brother,  she further explains,
That he was her twin, he was brave, but only she remains. 

Denise spots a car, it has a walker and a blue cooler bag inside,
She opens the door, reaches in, the walker falls from the car, it's suicide.
The walker is killed, she claims a single can of orange drink,
Daryl and Rosita chastise her, why did she do that? Why didn't she think?

Denise explains that she was trying to conquer her fears and claims
that Daryl and Rosita are also capable of doing the same.
When suddenly she is struck in her right eye by a crossbow bolt,
She carries on talking, but then collapses with a jolt. 

Her killer, Dwight, emerges from the trees next to the tracks,
A fight ensues, which results in the Saviors retreating back.
Denise's body is taken back to the Safe-Zone, all are upset, 
Dwight later reveals her death was an accident, Daryl was the target. 
Denise is shot through the right eye with a crossbow bolt.

Abba Voyage Show versus Thank You For The Music Show

Sunday, 29th May, 2022, 15:00 hours – The Abba Arena: Voyage Show

The day had finally arrived, we were going to see the new Abba Voyage show and was I excited? Yes, of course I was!!

The journey out to the Abba Arena was a bit more complicated than we first thought, having to travel on the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) which was a new experience for us, but it was made easier by being able to tap our debit card in and out of the stations. (The whole day cost us £11 each by doing this!)

On arriving at the Arena, there was already a throng of people, some dressed in costumes, others wearing Abba t-shirts and one person in particular wearing a leather chest protector?

We decided to give the shop a miss as there was a queue of about 50 people and so we waited for the doors to open to the concert hall. We knew immediately when it opened as a big cheer went up from everybody.

We found our seats, on the left hand side, about halfway up and after witnessing some confusion with seats with a man sitting in the wrong seat and nearly causing World War Three, we expectantly waited for the show to start.

And when it did, boy it did not disappoint. From the first haunting notes of The Visitors and seeing the Abba-tars, I have to admit I cried, it was just so overwhelming.

The whole show was just amazing, from the actual Abba-tars themselves to the light show.

The thing that I missed was the actual interaction between them and the audience.

Even though Abba talked, you knew it was the same for everyone and not personal for that audience. I was a disappointed when Bjorn started to sing Does Your Mother Know and then the backing singers took over, I felt like we should have heard Bjorn sing it all the way through.

You do get swept up in the excitement of it and it made me wish even more that I had seen them in concert in London, but I suppose this is the next best thing and it was lovely to hear The Winner Takes It All sung by Agnetha and not a tribute act.

At the end of the show, when we were on our way home on the Underground, my husband said, “That was the best show I have ever seen,” and from a non-Abba fan, I’d say that’s a win!

Tuesday, 31st May, 2022, 1930 hours – The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton: Thank You For The Music, Abba Tribute Band

We went to this show with some friends and after seeing Abba Voyage a few days earlier, I wasn’t really expecting that much from this show.

They did seem to have a few microphone issues at the beginning of the set and I thought it strange that they would sing Dancing Queen as the second song, but as the show progressed it got better and better.

They involved the audience and kept in character all the time, they encouraged us to get up and dance and we didn’t disappoint them. The atmosphere was great and they even sang some songs not usually given the light of day, for example, Angel Eyes and I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, etc.

What Abba Voyage was lacking in audience participation, this tribute act certainly made up for in spades.

We all had a wonderful time and everyone came out of the theatre buzzing.

Thank You For The Music – Abba Tribute Band

It was a fantastic five days filled with Abba and once again, I thank my husband for coming with me, but don’t worry about him, we’re going to see ABC at The Royal Albert Hall this month, as his treat!

Abba

The Fan

I have loved Abba since I can remember, I’m not quite sure what drew me to them, maybe it was the amazing harmonies or the catchy tunes, but something made me want to listen to their music, buy their singles and albums and adorn my bedroom wall with pictures of the group.

As posters were updated with newer ones, this one remained constant on my wall.

I can lay claim to the fact that years ago, a long time before Mamma Mia ever made an appearance, my friend and I wrote our own story which included the songs of Abba and which we recorded onto a tape recorder. If only we had the foresight to send it to somebody!!

I never saw them play live, when they came to London, I was just that bit too young to go and watch them by myself and my mum couldn’t afford two tickets plus the fare for the train journey. I did manage to buy some photographs of the concert I can remember and they are still in an album up in the loft.

I loved Agnetha, I loved everything about her, I probably wanted to be her and I also thought Frida was very cool. Their harmonies on every record was extraordinary and I loved finding out who was the lead vocal on each record they released.

The Songs

I don’t know that I have a favourite Abba record, I think I go through phases of loving one more than the others. I know it’s going to sound controversial but I never fell in love with Dancing Queen, maybe because it was played so much on the radio and TV when it was released.

I do love the tracks on albums that have never been singles, for instance Me And I from the Super Trouper album, Soldiers from The Visitors and I’ve Been Waiting For You from the Abba album.

My favourite song which features Frida’s voice is Should I Laugh Or Cry and Agnetha’s lead vocal is The Day Before You Came.

I have a special place in my heart for SOS, as I think it was literally the lifesaver song for the group which established them as a top pop group.

The Voyage Show

So last night was the launch of the new Abba show, Voyage, which features the group as Abba-tars. I would have loved it if the group had announced they were going to perform some shows live, but it was not to be, so this is the next best thing.

I tried my hardest to get tickets for the opening night, but the demand was so high it was practically impossible, however, I secured tickets for Sunday, 29th May, 2022 and the excitement is real now, I can’t believe I am going to experience something that is so technical and could be the future of the way concerts are brought to us. I am honoured to be part of this.

Not only do I have this to look forward to, but I am also going to an Abba tribute act at the theatre on Tuesday and I am excited to explore how the two experiences compare: Abba-tars versus tribute act and I will be putting up a blog doing just that, comparing them.

I need to say a huge thank you to my hubby, who has been dragged to numerous Abba tributes, watched Abba TV programmes and listened to Abba songs at home, all this and not being an Abba fan, but I think now he secretly enjoys the songs and knows most of the words to them as well!

SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN

After a couple of indulgent months of eating and drinking, hubby and I decided that it was time for a bit of healthy eating and coincidentally our favourite chefs, The Hairy Bikers, brought out a new book: The Hairy Dieters, Simple Healthy Food.

After ordering from Amazon, the book duly arrived and we scoured the pages for a recipe that grabbed our attention and we settled on the Southern Fried Chicken recipe.

This is their thoughts on the dish:

Actually, as you will see, this chicken isn't fried but baked, which means it is way lower in calories and fat but still so good. Chicken drumsticks are cheap and tasty, so are ideal for this recipe and as they take a while to cook the crumb coating browns and crisps up nicely. You could also use thighs or breasts if you prefer. These are great served with some salad or you can pop them in a lunch box to take to work. 

Ingredients

Serves 4
Prep: 15 minutes plus marinating time
Cooking time: about 40 minutes

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
200ml buttermilk
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
8 chicken drumsticks, skinned
75g breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

How did I get on?

The first step was to marinate the chicken in the garlic and onion powder, thyme and black pepper with half a teaspoon of salt and the buttermilk and Worcestershire sauce. This is when it is best to look at the recipe beforehand as this needs to marinate between an hour and overnight.

We chose to use chicken breasts instead of drumsticks.

When the chicken has marinated, set the oven to 200oC/Gas 6 and line a baking tray with parchment.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the paprika and season with salt and pepper.

Dip the chicken in this breadcrumb mixture and arrange them on a baking tray. Mix the oil with a tablespoon of water and brush this over the drumsticks. Then bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking time.

And there you have it, a quick and easy meal. We cooked some corn on the cob, onion rings and we made some Boston Baked Beans using our Thermomix.

Thoughts

This was extraordinarily easy to do, it tasted delicious and it was an ideal Saturday night meal, together with a bottle of cider!

Thermomix

This is an amazing piece of equipment for the kitchen, it can make anything from curries to pasta dishes to soups. It was on the expensive side but we use it about three times a week and it does save on a lot of washing up.

You can purchase it from Vorwerk and one of the things which impressed us was that a representative from the company came round our house and gave us a live demonstration.