Fear And Loafing In London

The husband and I walked 20 kilometres around London on Saturday – just for fun.

I have a bit of an obsession with walking around cities. When I lived in London, I would wander around the streets for hours on my own like a vagabond, peering at unusual buildings and discovering new thoroughfares; I would set myself strange little challenges to get to places purely on foot.

The husband is less enthused about trekking for miles for no apparent reason. But over time, he’s begrudgingly become an hiking urbanite too.

On Friday, we walked to the Natural History Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Exhibition. (If you haven’t been, it’s ace. The images are awesome but you have to be quick: it ends this month.)

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And then, during a wander through the tawdry tourist-trap of Leicester Square, our eyes fell upon this:

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It was an advert for a play called Ghost Stories, with the tagline ‘You haven’t seen horror until you’ve seen it live’.

Have you ever seen two people look more fearful? Take a closer look.

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The husband and I became a little obsessed by The Faces Of Fear (their terrified expressions were also plastered all over the tube too). So obsessed, in fact, that we woke up on Saturday morning and decided we wanted to see Ghost Stories ourselves, simply to see just how scary/ naff it actually was.

I tell a lie: the husband really wanted to see The Book Of Mormon, which by all accounts is one of the best West End shows in recent years. It’s also sold out weeks in advance. But every day at 2pm (and again at 5pm) they do a raffle draw for 20 random people to be offered spare seats for a bargainous £20.

Entering the raffle is quite a lot of fun in itself. You have to head down to the theatre in person, fill out an entry form and pop it into a giant tombola, while a slightly irritating thespian type bellows jokes to the assembled throng through a megaphone.

At 2.30pm, the theatrical joker started pulling names out of the tombola machine, with dramatic fanfare. As the names started being called out, a little part of me secretly hoped that we wouldn’t be chosen (after all the hype, I kind of had my heart set on Ghost Stories).

Looking at the hopeful faces of the crowd around me, I even started dreaming up a scenario whereby if our names were drawn I would rather grandly announce, ‘Of course, I’m pleased that I’ve just won two tickets to the hottest West End show of the year.

‘However, there’s a little play down the road called Ghost Stories that we simply can’t miss. Here, have my tickets.’

I started scanning the flock of people trying to identify who was most deserving of this over-blown gesture. I settled on two little old ladies, waiting patiently at the edge of the crowd.

Our names never got called.

At 5pm, we found ourselves crammed into rickety chairs at the edge of the stage in the ramshackle Prince of Wales theatre, awaiting the curtain call for Ghost Stories. These are the kind of seats you get lumbered with when you pay £20 for a last-minute ticket. Spooky music was wailing from the speakers; a sense of anticipation filled the air.

We even attempted to recreate The Faces of Fear for ourselves.

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There was a warning sign stating that anyone with a nervous disposition should leave now. As the lights darkened, I started to feel a bit nervous. Just how terrifying was this spectacle going to be? Could my heart (which has recently become prone to palpitations after too much coffee) even take it?

Turns out, I shouldn’t have been worried.

It was dire.

Heard the story about the man who is driving through some woods when a ghostly figure suddenly runs out in front of his car? A few miles down the road, his car predictably breaks down, leaving him stranded with only a ghoulish figure for company who starts ominously tapping on the roof of his car.

Let’s just say this story is best left for round the camp fire: trying to recreate it on stage ends up being rather comical.

More silly stories ensued: the security guard who was on a night shift at an empty warehouse. After lots of creeping around and banging of doors, he then gets attacked by a… mannequin! Yes, one of those waxy shop window dummies suddenly comes alive and grabs him at the throat. Cue shrieks from the audience and chortles from the husband.

Jonathan Ross was clearly on drugs when described it as ‘awesome, scary fun’.

There was, inevitably, a weird twist at the end. At this point, I feel I should honour the old West End etiquette: that one should not give away the ending to other potential theatre-goers.

But let’s just there’s a reason why I tell my pupils never to end a story with: ‘It was all a dream.’

After Ghost Stories, we decided to work up an appetite with a three-mile stroll to Mayfair. What I love about London is you can just roam for miles, before stumbling into a darkened bistro to gorge on a three-course feast. Following this gluttonous binge, the husband suggested that we might get a cab back to the hotel.

‘A cab?!’ I said, incredulously. ‘But it’s a mere 2.5 miles back to the hotel.’

The husband sighed. And off we went again.

We strolled back through Mayfair; we sauntered across Trafalgar Square, saluting the Boris’s Big Blue Cock as we passed.

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Finally, at the end of Fleet Street, the ghostly silhouette of St Paul’s loomed into view.

Back at the hotel, the husband declared himself so worn out that he could barely brush his teeth. I, meanwhile. eagerly checked my Jawbone UP band.

28,000 steps and 20 kilometres!

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I went to bed very happy.

And then had a nightmare that I was attacked.

By a ghoulish mannequin.

The Duke of Wellington

Thought Hunters were the daddies of the welly world? Me too.

But allow me to introduce you to Aigle: the king of rubber footwear.

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These bad-ass boots, handcrafted in France, turn everything you thought you knew about wellingtons (rubbery and er, green) on its head. I first heard whisperings about them in the last year or two (although they’ve been around since 1853).

But it wasn’t until the husband entered the market for a pair of new wellies this winter, that I knew there was only one brand I was going to turn too.

(Quick ‘foot’note here: Aigle are arguably usurped by French brand Le Chameau – the absolute crème de la crème for those in the know. But at £200+ a pop, you have to basically be Prince Charles to own a pair.)

Naturally, procuring a pair of Aigles wasn’t as straightforward as simply popping down to the local shoe shop (is it ever?). I won’t go into details but let’s just say it involved much internet research and a train ride to London. Excessive, I know.

I finally settled on a pair of Aigle’s ISO Parcours 2. With their neoprene surface, special ankle-hugging contours and anti-fatigue insulation, these water-repellant bad boys laugh in the face of puddles and sneer at cold toes.

The husband was a little sceptical about his new wellies at first. Like the electric toothbrush, I had to convince him that these really were WELLIES FOR LIFE.

But as soon as he’d paced around the lounge a few times, he deemed them incredibly comfortable and very warm (in fact there’s even been internet rumours of them being TOO warm. First world problem alert).

Today’s walk from Addingham to Ilkley was the perfect day to try them out: the first sunny day after two months of torrential rain.

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If you’ve never been to Ilkley, I urge you to get in your car and head there immediately. It’s an attractive market town nestled in the Yorkshire Dales. There’s a Betty’s tea room, independent book shops and an air of English finery about the place. It’s little wonder that is was recently dubbed the happiest place to live in the UK.

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We sat and ate a M&S sandwich on a bench outside Betty’s (the only downside to donning wellies for a muddy walk is that they don’t quite cut the mustard in posh tea rooms). Still, we love park benches (and there wasn’t a Pizza Hut pizza in sight!).

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If there’s one criticism, Ilkley is trifle twee and a bit middle class. Heck, even the buskers appear to be straight out of the local grammar school.

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Addingham is Ilkley’s little sister further up the River Wharfe: all bubbling brooks, cutesy cottages and waddling ducks.

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The village is also home to the husband’s favourite-ever house: a Georgian beast of beauty that he believes he will one day retire to.

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Anyway, before I digress into one of those smug ‘lifestyle’ blogs rambling on about bracing country walks and Gywnnie-style organic juices, let’s get back to the boots.

The husband bloomin loved them. He sloshed through sludgy mud, sploshed in bulging becks, and splashed in over-sized puddles.

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As more and more walkers passed us in their hoi-polloi Hunters (moi included), he felt like the Duke of Wellington.

And then the inevitable happened.

Striding towards him – looking every inch the country squire in his flat cap and black Labrador trotting obediently at his heels – was a man, wearing… an identical pair of brown Aigle boots.

As he passed, the husband locked eyes competitively. They exchanged a knowing look.

‘He has your boots on!’ I whispered.

‘I know,’ said the husband. ‘And he knew that I knew he had!’

‘But did he know that you knew that he knew that you knew?’ I said.

‘That makes no sense whatsoever,’ said the husband.

Back in Addingham, the duke lingered longingly over the gate of his favourite house.

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He might be the duke of wellingtons…

But he wasn’t quite the lord of Addingham.

La Dolce Vita

It’s Friday night and the husband arrives home from work.

‘Are we going to the Thai?’ he says.

The local Thai has become a Friday night fixture. We go so often now that the woman who runs it has begun to giggle inanely when we set foot in the door. She foists free mango sorbet upon us, and throws in the occasional basket of complimentary prawn crackers. We’ve taken to bowing to her with our hands clasped as we leave.

‘We could go for a civilised meal at the Thai,’ I said.

‘Or… we could roam down to our local grubby Pizza Hut, snap up a £5 pizza each on their ‘Special 5′ deal, and eat it on a park bench.’

‘Pizza on a park bench!’ says hubby.

We’ve developed a new hobby of eating pizzas on park benches, walls – and even one of those yellow grit bins at the end of the road. It’s a lot of fun. Go and try it. There’s something reassuringly back to basics about shivering on street corners, chomping your way through a pizza that you’ve managed to procure for a mere fiver.

If it takes off, it could even be developed as some form of middle-class therapy: kind of reconnecting with your youth. And I suppose you could go the whole hog and wash it down with a bottle of Diamond White while you’re at it.

After a couple of drinks at the bar up the road (the giant dog was in situ again. It was Friday night after all; he’s almost a regular now), we wandered down to Pizza Hut to collect our pepperoni feasts.

We were greeted by a portly man of dubious hygiene, who grunted and then disappeared into the back to forage for our pizzas. He looked like Mr Twit.

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Our local Pizza Hut is basically a shed attached to the end of a row of shops, largely staffed by scruffy-looking students. It looks absolutely filthy and is probably over-run with rodents gnawing on left-over pizza crusts in the backyard. But when the pizzas only cost £5, you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.

We wandered up the road, sat on a yellow grit bin and started working our way through the two medium-sized feasts.

‘I think I’m going to have half here and then half back at home,’ I said.

‘It’s an interesting strategy,’ said the husband. ‘My only fear is that it will be too cold by the time you get home.’

‘Not if you close the lid in between each slice and contain the warmth,’ I said.

As we greedily chomped away, two police officers came strolling towards us.

‘Evening, officer,’ said the husband, in a terribly British voice.

‘Evening, officer,’ I chirped.

The policeman and policewoman didn’t return our greeting, choosing to stare at us curiously instead.

I don’t know what is about encountering a couple of bobbies on the beat that turns one into an extra from Midsomer Murders. When I see a police officer, I immediately transform into a blustering buffoon, convinced that I’ve got something to hide.

As the police officers eyed us suspiciously, I had to fight the urge to say, ‘There’s nothing to see here officers: just me and my double pepperoni pizza. We don’t want any trouble!’

The police officers moved on and we ambled home.

‘Did you know that Philip Seymour Hoffman was found with 70 bags of heroin in his apartment? 70 bags! ‘ mused the husband.

‘It’s very sad,’ I said.

‘I think he might have been my favourite actor in the last 20 years,’ added the husband.

‘Really?!’ I said. ‘In all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never heard you so much as utter the words Phillip Seymour Hoffman, let alone proclaim he’s your favourite-ever actor!’

‘If was found dead in an apartment, I’d probably be surrounded by 50 empty boxes of double pepperoni pizza,’ said the husband, sadly.

Back at the ranch, the husband chewed thoughtfully.

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‘Do you think that Pizza Hut tell people about the ‘Special 5′ deal or do you think they allow people to just stumble in and blindly order a medium-sized pizza for £9.95, knowing that they could get it for £5?’ pondered the husband.

‘I’ve no idea,’ I said. ‘But next Friday, let’s give it a go. We’ll go in pretending we don’t know about the deal and see what happens. And if hairy man keeps us in the dark about the deal, we’ll reveal all.’

‘Next Friday is Valentine’s Day,’ said the husband.

‘Even better!’ I said.

The Elusive Nando’s Black Card

Beckham’s got one; Jay-Z can’t live without his; Justin Timberleg’s in; and even scraggy-haired crooner Ed Sheeran’s somehow got his paws on one. I’m talking about something more exclusive than membership to Coutts and rarer than hen’s teeth themselves…

The Nando’s Black Card.

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Whisperings of its existence first surfaced on the web a few years ago but I’ve never heard of anyone outside of schleb circles being given one. It might even be an urban myth.

According to legend, owners of this exclusive card – also known as the High Five – can waltz into any Nando’s in the world, slip the card to the cashier (perhaps there’s even a secret handshake involved?) and receive unlimited food for free. There’s even a whole website dedicated to it.

In the heart of our local stomping ground of Chapel Allerton, a huge restaurant/ bar has just closed down. It’s a great venue: all glass fronted and on three levels. In its heyday it was called Angel’s Share and many a night was spent jostling glasses of wine, dodging doughy divorcees, and bumping along to Boogie Luv.

But despite the vintage bird wallpaper, great wine list and locally-sourced grub, its latest incarceration as a more high-brow eaterie called the Hummingbird just didn’t quite cut the mustard.

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The husband and I mulled over the sad demise of Angel’s Share/ Hummingbird with fellow Chapel Allerton-ers in the pub the other week. We came to the conclusion that it needed to attract a more loyal clientele – one that perhaps enjoyed spicy chicken, with a side of rice or fries, all drizzled in lashings of an addictive peri-peri sauce.

Basically, it needed to be a Nando’s.

By their second pint, the husband and friend Sam had decided, with 100 per cent certainty, that they were going to set up a franchise of Nando’s, right here on our doorstep.

‘We’re already spending £1500 a year on Nando’s,’ figured the husband, referring to our weekly addiction. ‘We might as well go the whole hog and buy a Nando’s. It’s the next logical step.’

The next morning, the husband hopped on the laptop to enquire about launching the all-new north Leeds leg of this spicy chicken success story.

But to his dismay, he found that Nando’s franchises weren’t an option in the UK.

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We pondered this problem for a whole.

‘I’ve got an idea,’ I said. ‘Perhaps we could still have a Nando’s business model but call it…’

‘…Nondo’s?!’ we both chimed at once.

I decided to write to Nando’s.

Dear Mr Nando,

My husband and I are weekly visitors to several of your establishments across Leeds, where we regularly enjoy a butterfly chicken breast and half-chicken respectively (with peri-peri salt fries, spicy rice, and an occasional side of halloumi).

Given our expertise, we feel there is a definite gap in the market for a Nando’s restaurant in Chapel Allerton, north Leeds, namely at the vacant premises formerly known as a the Hummingbird restaurant.

In return for this information and in light of the millions we believe you are likely to make, we are happy to forfeit our finder’s fee in exchange for one of your coveted Nando’s black cards.

Please send to the address above.

Yours Sincerely

I was about to hit send when my eyes fell upon ‘10 Things You Need To Know About The Nando’s Black Card‘.

I refer to point 8: ‘No-one who’s requested a card, no matter how politely, has ever received one. Asking for one is the biggest tattoo.

I immediately scrapped the letter.

But there is hope. Nando’s claims that anyone who can prove they’ve eaten in every restaurant across the world would receive free food for life.

I estimate we’ve visited 20 Nando’s across the UK.

Which means we only have another 1015 restaurants to go.

The Husband… and The Puff

What is this object?

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Yep, it’s one of those white fluffy things that you use to lather shower gel around your body.

The problem is that no one really knows what to call it. To the husband it is quite simply a ‘shower puff’. I’ve always called it a puff too. But I’m not sure what its official title is. I’ve heard it labelled a variety of things: shower scrunchie, body polisher, even a shower flower.

I once saw a besuited man in Boots attempting to explain to the shop assistant what he was looking for.

‘It’s a white fluffy shower… thing,’ he was saying, whilst doing a circular scrubbing motion with his hands.

‘A puff?’ I helpfully chipped in.

‘That’s it!’ he cried.

Anyone who doesn’t use a shower puff for everyday cleansing really is missing a trick. I mean how else do you get up the kind of lather that a puff can provide?

We have a variety of puffs in our house, including a large pink puff, which I acquired from Soap and Glory. It’s huge, and bills itself as the ‘best latherer in town’. I even bought my mother-in-law one for Christmas (turns out she loves puffs too!).

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For day-to-day showering, we plump for a simple white Boots puff (one each, of course – I’m not sure on the etiquette of a shared puff). Boots provide the best puffs; those puffs purchased from Superdrug et al. have proved feeble, and begin to unravel when faced with a vigorous scour.

The husband went on a business trip to Latvia the other week (where he got trapped in the a toilet cubicle on his way to a business meeting and had to wait half an hour for the hotel maintenance team to remove the hinges off the door. During this lavatory-based debacle, the meek Saudi man, who the husband was supposed to be meeting, was waiting on the other side of the door to greet him, arms outstretched… But that’s another story).

Being the loving wife that I am, I often leave the husband a range of silly notes when he goes away – sometimes in a pocket; sometimes in a shoe. More often than not, he doesn’t even notice them. I once popped one in his packed lunch and he accidentally ate it.

For the Latvian trip, I popped a note in with his ‘travel puff’ (travel puff lives in a clear white plastic zip up bag; he’s a slightly smaller version of your standard puff).

The note simply said, ‘Puff Daddy’. (Yep, you can see how much fun we have in our house!)

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Upon arrival, the husband – being the most unobservant man on this planet – removed trusty travel puff from his suitcase and was happily scrubbing away in the shower, whilst unbeknown to him my ‘Puff Daddy’ note had somehow ended up lying on the floor of the shower cubicle unnoticed.

This would have been fine, had the husband not been sharing a room with his work colleague.

Said work colleague then entered the bathroom – and staring back at him on the floor was a bright orange Post-It note that simply said ‘Puff’ (the ‘Daddy’ part being unfortunately folded underneath).

The husband isn’t sure whether or not he actually spotted the offending note.

But I like to imagine the work colleague spending his shower in complete and utter confusion, possibly muttering, ‘PUFF??’ to himself several times, as he lathered away.

The Ghost of Holidays Past

The annual Great Summer Holiday Hunt began in earnest about two months ago. First, there was the decision of where to go (France/ Italy/ Greece/ Bognor Regis…).

Next, was choosing a hotel (not too big, not too small, sizeable pool area, walking distance of a restaurants, preferably nestling alongside a picturesque harbour with postcard-perfect houses in pastel colours artfully positioned on the hillside – I don’t ask for much) and thirdly: Can it live up to our favourite hotel?

The problem with finding a hotel that you love is that you start comparing all other hotels to it – and sometimes they just don’t live up to the benchmark.

Last year, we went to Lindos Blu in Rhodes. In my mind it was the perfect hotel, pitching itself somewhere between boutique and medium-sized, offering a relaxing adults-only pool area gazing onto the Aegean sea, with plenty of scope for people-watching; attentive staff with just the right level of fuss; and a large, modern room with all the extras you’d hope for – such as a hot tub and a sunken bath. Lindos Blu was going to be a hard act to follow.

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And when it came to booking this year’s hotel, I couldn’t find anywhere that looked quite as good as Lindos Blu. After many hours trawling Tripadvisor (no matter how many excellent reviews there are, I always seem to home in on the negatives: ‘there was a pungent odour emanating from the bathroom… the food was barely edible’), I delivered the news to the husband that we might be heading back to our old friend Lindos Blu.

‘So you’re telling me that out of all the hotels in Europe, you can’t find a single suitable hotel?’ said the husband, with an air of weariness.

‘That’s about the size of it,’ I said. ‘It’s going to have to be Lindos Blu Part 2. We’ll be one of those strange couples who go to the same hotel and ask for the same room every year.

‘Unless…’ I added. ‘We play the wild card.’

‘Let’s play the wild card,’ said the husband. He thinks people who visit the same place year after year are a bit strange.

The wild card was a little-known hotel called Monte Mulini, perched atop a quaint harbour town called Rovinj in northern Croatia. It looked lovely.

So here we are, gazing out at the Istrian sea, lying on one of our hard-won sun-loungers, cheek to jowl with an uber-boobed Russian nuzzling her catalogue boy lover.

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It turns out that Rovinj isn’t so ‘little-known’ after all. In fact, half of Europe appears to have descended on the place. When we landed at the hotel yesterday afternoon, it was a beautiful sight… with just one problem: there wasn’t a single sun-lounger free – just scores of bare-breasted women and splashing children as far as the eye could see (okay, so the photo paints a serene scene but on ground level, it was a different story).

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‘This would never happen at Lindos Blu,’ I thought.

This morning, we rose and headed down for breakfast, passing the pool en route. Already, the hordes had descended, reserving nearly every sun lounger with a carefully-placed magazine or sunhat.

‘This is ridiculous,’ I thought. On principal, I don’t believe in reserving sun loungers pre-breakfast. I blame the Germans. They started this.

‘If you can beat ’em, join ’em,’ said the husband, throwing down his towel on one of the last remaining loungers and placing his Kindle on it territorially.

We headed up for breakfast; there wasn’t a single table free.

‘We would never had to queue at Lindos Blu,’ I grumbled.

He husband rolled his eyes.

‘And what’s more… I MISS NIGEL!’ I added, dramatically.

Nigel was a fellow holiday maker at Lindos Blu last year: a big-bellied booming man with an ego the size of France. He was the very dictionary definition of a ‘bon viveur’, greeting the staff by their first names and regaling his captive audience with tales of far-flung travel destinations.

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Occasionally, he would dive noisily into the pool and embark on a couple of lengths of butterfly – limbs akimbo – emerging to bellow down the phone at his harassed PA, before continuing his convivial chat with other poolside posers.

Basically, he provided hours of entertainment. We pretended that he was the most irritating guest imaginable but when he departed mid-way through the week, he left a big hole in our holiday.

‘We all miss Nigel,’ said the husband wistfully, as he gazed down the snaking line of people awaiting a table for breakfast.

And then he uttered the words that neither of us had dared to voice.

‘Get me back to Lindos Blu’.

The Crack Cocaine of Fast Food

The husband and I have a guilty little eating obsession that we’ve been keeping quiet about for some time. Like most addictions, it crept up on us slowly – a brief visit here and there if we happened to be passing.

But the lure of Nando’s neon rooster soon became too much. Before we knew it, we were bombing down there every Sunday to ravenously stuff our jowls with spicy chicken, licking our greasy fingers feverishly, as peri peri sauce dribbled down our chins.

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In the unlikely event that you’ve never entered its dark doors, Nando’s is basically a fast food restaurant that specialises in Portuguese-style chicken, accompanied by bottles of peri peri sauce, which range from mild to extremely hot. One hit and you’re hooked.

Some people go to Nando’s for a date night; some for a fun night with friends. But we visit Nando’s purely to get our fix. There is no element of enjoyment involved; like true addicts, we’re only interested in getting in there, feeding the addiction and getting out as quickly as is humanly possible.

Having to wait for a table is our worst nightmare. But we’ve developed a method that works quite well: the husband joins the queue to order, while I await a table allocation. Once seated, I text the table number to the husband, usually with the parting message, ‘Do what you need to do’.

There’s no need to go through the motion of pretending to look at the menu. We both know exactly what we want. And the beauty of Nando’s is that there’s no waiter interaction involved; better still, because you’ve paid upfront you can get the hell out of there as soon as the gorge is over.

Sometimes we don’t even speak to each other as we hungrily tuck in, swamping our chicken in hot peri peri sauce and shovelling spicy rice down the hatch at a revolting speed. At the end of the feast, we both sit in subdued silence, clutching our stomachs and fighting a rising sense of self-loathing, swearing that this really will be the last time we visit this rotten establishment.

But, of course, the next week we’re back.

The lengths that we will go to sate our peri peri craving are quite extreme. We’ve been know to travel 20 miles out of our way just to sink our gnashers into a medium-spiced half chicken. We were once forced to get a Nando’s takeout and eat it in our car, in a darkened alleyway. With our bare hands.

At my lowest ebb, I once sat on my own in a Nando’s in London gluttonously feasting on a double chicken wrap. At midnight. After downloading an app called Find My Nearest Nando’s. It was sick.

The addiction took a brief hiatus after a bad incident with a bottle of peri peri sauce. Disembarking at Leeds train station after a weekend away, we dragged our suitcases through the city centre with only one destination in mind. We had arrived just before closing, where one of the waiters was busy unscrewing the tops of the sauces to clean them.

Unfortunately for the husband, I happened to pick up one of the loose-topped bottles, which slipped in my greasy hands and did a rather dramatic somersault through the air, simulataneously showering the husband head to toe in peri peri sauce.

The poor husband had to travel home covered in sticky sauce. His suitcase stunk of it for weeks after. We had about a month off after that – swearing that this Really Was The End and that we were through with that place Once And For All.

That was, until a little voice started whispering ‘peri peri chicken, peri peri chicken’ and the cycle of gluttony started all over again. Going cold turkey on the Nando’s rooster was never going to last.

The husband might say, ‘What do you fancy for dinner tonight? I was thinking a little bit of chicken, a little bit of rice…’

‘Hmm… a little bit of chicken and rice – with perhaps a… spicy sauce?’ I’d reply innocently.

‘What could be the harm in that?’