Auto Aid – the best breakdown cover

Auto Aid – the best breakdown cover

The big names like RAC and AA take all the limelight for breakdown cover.

Without a doubt, they are good – but they’re also very expensive.  Even if you think you’re getting a good deal having cover free from your bank etc, the chances are you don’t actually have the cover you want or need.

A basic policy can be had for £60 that doesn’t include (what should be) essentials such as home start, and, more importantly, most of these will cover only a specific car, or you as a driver, until you start paying £200-£300 per year for a service you may never even use!

But even then, what  if you own cars and bikes, and want them both to be covered when you’re riding?

It still amazes me that so few people have even heard of Auto Aid.

You pay £40 per year, and that covers YOU as a driver or passenger in any vehicle.  And you get home start, forward travel, and pretty much everything you need.

So what’s the catch?

Well, assuming you are unlucky, and actually have to use the service you’re paying £40 per year for, you have to pay for any roadside repair or recovery out of your own pocket – but don’t panic!  All you do then is send Auto Aid your invoice, and they will reimburse you the full amount in about a week.

I was a little dubious about this aspect, but assuming you have a credit card, it won’t be a problem.

Having held a policy for years, I actually had to use it for the first time a few months ago – and I had to test exactly the dodgy stuff that you’d be worried they would refuse to reimburse you for.

Basically, the brand new Honda VTR1000 that I bought minutes before broke it’s drive chain on my way home with the bike.  So on all the DVLA systems I was not even owner of this bike, although I had taken out insurance (not that they ever asked – as the policy covers me as a person!).

I rang up at around 10pm, and they got a local contractor (exactly the same as some of the more expensive companies) to come out to me within about 40 minutes.

With no hassle at all, they loaded up my bike and took me and the bike home, as all the garages were closed at that time of night.

I paid their flat fee of £50 for a journey of about 20 miles by card over the telephone.

Now for the dodgy part – I had to get the bike from my house to a garage the following evening (again outside of working hours), and the person on the telephone had advised me to just call them again, and they would send someone out to collect the bike and take me there.

Again, no hassles – I paid by phone another £50, and they took me where I wanted.

Still nervous, I posted the invoices and receipts (keeping a copy just in case) back to Auto Aid with their simple claim form, and exactly as promised, they refunded the entire amount to me!

I’m not making anything from this, I’m just doing my good deed of the day by letting you know of a brilliant and much cheaper alternative.

You’d be crazy to sign up to anything else!

The Paralympics, And My Hero!

The Paralympics, And My Hero!

If you read my blog, you’ll know how I never managed to get too excited over the ‘big’ Olympics this year.

It’s pretty much a school sports day for grown-ups.  What we REALLY need to see is a Drug Olympics – anything goes, so we can see what the human body is REALLY capable of doing!

Hence why you might not be surprised to hear I’m even less enthusiastic over the Paralympics.

Don’t get me wrong – they’re all great, and full respect for getting bits lopped off and still going for it and stuff, but I’d still rather watch motor racing (which doesn’t discriminate for disabilities).

And here’s the tie-in:

One thing I AM very excited about in the Paralympics is seeing Alex (Alessandro) Zanardi.

He’ll be doing his thing in the handcycle for the first and probably last time – and he has a good chance of winning, too!

It would be the perfect ending to his story (‘My Story’ is his awesome autobiography, too – go read it!) which I’ve been following very closely.

From his days as one of the best drivers ever seen in Indycar (with the best pass ever seen at Laguna Seca’s corkscrew), winning two championships with many races from the back of the grid, getting both of his legs smashed off in a 240mph t-bone accident, and his amazing comeback shortly afterwards.

Within a couple of years of the accident which should have killed him – the forces of getting hit at that speed alone should have done it, let alone the massive blood loss – he returned to the circuit in a specially adapted Indycar, and completed the laps he’d missed from that race in Germany.  At a pace that would have had him running at the front again!

He won his first race in a modified WTCC BMW shortly afterwards.  And all this from humble beginings – unlike most top racers who were born into money an made use of it to get them to the top.

As part of staying fit he took to handcycling, and his competitive nature came through once again, and he started competing and winning at that, too.

I can’t wait to see him, and hope he gets the gold!

Another reason is that having a rant about him when asked “Who’s your hero?” in a recent job interview nailed me the job!

So thank you Alex – and best of luck!

You Got Knocked The F**k Out!

You Got Knocked The Fuck Out!

The aim of most fights is to knock your opponent out.  Actually, the aim of most of the Scrotes around these day is to knock you out and then tapdance on your head for 15 minutes, but that’s another story…

People always ask me (well, one person back in 1989 hinted he’d like to know) what is the best way to knock someone out.  What’s the best way?

The simple answer is that it’s actually not that easy.

We see it in films all the time, where someone will belt someone on the jaw and they go straight down, out cold.  In reality, most times they will just look at you, all angry and stuff, and then hit you back, right in the face.  If you’ve ever watched ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’ then you’ll remember the scene where they’re trying to knock the traffic warden out…  That’s how it usually goes…

Of course there are several ‘knock out points’ on the body – boxers will be well versed in these basic ones that you can whack, and there are also loads of pressure points that require more finesse.  The real joy is that all of these is that anybody can catch them completely by accident.  Or the flip-side is that some people are seemingly immune (especially after alcohol or drugs).

The basic ones are on the temple, the point of the chin (towards the back of the head), the side of the jaw, and between the top lip and the bottom of the nose.

Most people will swing punches at their opponents head to get the knock out, but there are some great ones lower down, too.

Another major one from boxing is the liver.  As you look at your opponent, the place to hit will be just where their elbow falls below their rib cage on the right hand side of their body.  This will send a jolt through their whole body and produce a knockout that’s delayed by a fair few seconds.  If you’ve ever been hit here you’ll know what a pisser it is – and also that you can literally tap someone here and they’ll still go down.

It’s also really easy to use a quick deception such as raising one hand slightly then twatting them to the body where they won’t be expecting it.

There are lots of pressure points even in the legs which can cause a knockout – would I recommend chancing them in a life or death situation?  Hell no.  Stick with the proven stuff.

The humble slap is often very underrated.  Not only does it make your opponent look like a bitch, but I can tell you first hand that you can easily cause a knockout.  In fact, it’s far preferable to punching, as you have less chance of breaking your knuckles or hurtig yourself – and you cause a lot of blunt trauma and shock damage with the added bonus that you can burst their eardrum.  Ok, so you might look like a bit of a sissy who slaps like a girl, but the chances are nobody will call you on it if someone is lay at your feet snoring in a puddle of blood and snot.

The neck is also a great target for knockouts – but be aware you’re quite likely to kill them and spend the rest of your days in jail muttering about only wanting to knock them out and not murder them…

For this reason I’m not going to give you these here.  Please bear in mind that even the cleanest knock out still carries the risk of killing them, if not from the blow then from smacking their noggin on a table or whatever as they fall into their little slumber.  If you don’t want to kill someone – don’t fight them!

If you can’t knock them out, or are just feeling nasty – cause as much damage to them in as many ways as possible – and that’s something we’ll cover in another blog…

The Best Martial Arts Films Of All Time!

The Best Martial Arts Films Of All Time!

I’ve been doing various martial arts since I was 8 years old. It’s more than just a part of my life – martial arts principles and philosophies actually form a huge base of my every waking moment.

But what are my all-time favourite films?

I’m glad you asked, because here they are:

Roadhouse – Ok, so this isn’t a pure martial arts film, as such, but I feel it needs to be included. The main reason for this is Sawyze’s ‘Throat Ripping’ move. Legend has it, that if anyone pushes him too far, he’ll rip their throat out and watch them die. How fucking cool is that? Near the end he does it, and leaves the Bad Guy’s corpse face down in the river. Have at you! For years after, if anyone would have got me REALLY angry, I’m sure I’d have ripped their throats out! Rarr!!! And there’s another thing – however ‘hard’ you think Swayze is through the film (or any of his ‘hard’ films) there is the inevitable moment where he does a flying kick that looks so blatantly Ballet-Gay, you just want to bitchslap the Mo Fo and break his legs for being such a damn fairy!

Rocky – All of these films are entertaining to watch, although again, the actual boxing moves are rarely a large part. The down-an-out Bum triumphs over the unstoppable bad guys! Yay!!!

“I will break you.”

ANY Steven Segal Film – they’re all pretty damn shit, as far as storyline and stuff goes – especially after he turned all hippie. But the guy really is a true Master of Aikido. One thing he stands firm on in his films is that the techniques are shown in full detail. He’s also so fast that he has to slow down the moves or the camera would miss them, much like Bruce Lee had to. There are clips around of Segal teaching and giving Aikido demonstrations for real – check that shit out and tell me he isn’t one bad little screw-head? His role in all his films is someone who’s got so much skill he’s untouchable and unbeatable – which is cool as hell, but gets a bit tired… Any of his films are choc-full of Trap-‘N’Snap moves. Mmm.

The Karate Kid 1 & 2 – These are pretty much one film. I love them! I’ll watch them whenever they’re on even now! They have it all, especially when you’re a young teen. Little weakling Danny La Rousso gets bullied by nasty Karate gang, he trains with wise old Mr Miyagi and then whupps all their asses in a tournament, despite their dirty tactics. Oh, and the music is so cheesy it’s cool. I have it all on my hard drive… But what a -ing ponce little Daniel-San is when he fights?! My God, even though I’m routing for the runt, even I want to see him get battered. STOP BEING SUCH A PANSY AND HIT HIM!!!! Crane kick? GAYYYYYYY!

To be fair his snap punches were lovely, and when I fought in Karate competitions back in the day – I wore a head band, too… Oh the shame… (I still have my headband)

The Drunken Master – Actually I’d recommend just about all of Jackie Chans films. This is one of the early dubbed ones, set in Ancient China. It’s funny as hell, mixed with tragedy. All of Chan’s films are highly entertaining and the guy amazes me how he moves. The highlight of this film, after being pretty light and jokey all the way through, is when The Master demonstrates the true Drunken Master technique. Suddenly it all goes dark and serious, as he displays the truly awesome power of this deadly style. “Snake In Eagles Shadow” is probably my next favourite.

The Last Samurai – Oh my God – it’s a Tom Cruise film! That major flaw aside, I love this. It has real atmosphere, and is a great insight into the Samurai way of life in feudal Japan. Although I could tell you things about Samurai that would make you hate them, in this instance they are the Good Guys, trying to cling to and defend their honourable way of life against the Age Of The Gun and industrialisation and all that nasty modern stuff. Tom was training the Gun People when he was captured by the Samurai, and he lives in their village, learning their ways and eventually fighting for them against the people he was training. An excellent lesson in how modern times have fucked up everyones sense of honour and peaceful living. The bastards. The scenes where a young Samurai boy is play-fighting with Tom with bokken (heavy oak training swords) is brilliant, as is his training against the other samurai as he gets better.

Man, I can’t say enough about this film – it gets me all emotional just thinking about it! It teaches a lot of the principles from ‘The Hagakure’ – which should be the bible for living your life. I shall watch it tonight!

American Samurai – This is one of the cheesiest films ever made – but also the best for weapons fighting! Little white boy is orphaned or rescued by a Japanese family, where he grows up and trains alongside the Japs own son, Kenjiro. They both get good, but as they get older Kenjiro turns Bad, and eventually goes all Yakuza and disowns the family, after calling the American ‘brother’ a “Geijin!”. The Yank goes to live in America, then years later (can’t remember if he’s kidnapped or goes poking about) he finds himself fighting in an underground tournament, where people enter with their choice of weapons.

There’s some excellent Wu Shu type fighting, and some cool as fuck bloke who fights with two swords and has a blade in his long ponytail, that he whips out. And his trick is to run up the wall, flip over, and land behind the opponent.

There’s some serious slicing and dicing. Of course, there’s a huge redneck bloke who enters with a fucking hunting knife. Err… WTF??? Of course, the tournament champion is none other than Kenjiro, who’s practising his vastly superior chopping skills and winning everything. He lops the big redneck clean in twain, as he’s shouting and trying to act all scary. Serves him right.

The two ‘brothers’ match up at the end, and it’s a damn good fight – Samurai to Samurai. I need to get this on DVD!

The Fighter – This is the only modern martial arts film worth watching.  This is the story of boxer ‘Irish’ Mickey Ward and his rise from being completely overshadowed by his local hero brother through to becoming a contender for the Welterweight championship.

Unlike Rocky, this IS a proper boxing film without huge Russians and melodrama.  There is plenty of real-life drama, though!  Mickeys big brother has fallen from his days of boxing fame and into the use of crack cocain, and their family is so dysfunctional, unfair, and just plain nasty that you’ll find yourself shouting at the screen.  All the acting is top notch (especially from the lovely Amy Adams playing Mickeys girlfriend) and it will entertain even those with no interest at all in boxing.

Kickboxer – Tong Po is a fucking God! Every single scene and line in this film is a classic! Big hard Yank Kickboxing champ goes to Thailand to face their Muay Thai Champion – Tong Po. Despite warnings from the yanks little brother (Van Damme, who’s just witnessed Tong Po warming up: “Legs? This guy was kicking one of these (a wall post) with his fucking legs – BAM! BAM! – until plaster was falling down!!!”), they fight and Tong Po splatters him, breaking his back up good and proper and leaving him in a wheelchair. Van Damme gets mad, and swears revenge, eventually training with an old Master until he’s good enough to stick it to the big bald bloke.

Awesome training montage’s, and it has a real feel about it that makes you want to go to Thailand to take in the beauty – not the drugs and hookers – of this ancient civilisation.  And again I love the soundtrack!

A great demonstration of how beautiful and brutal Muay Thai Kickboxing is, and a cheesy but engaging plot!

So my all-time favourite is….

Bloodsport – Yes, another Van Damme film (one of his first ever). The Young Van Damme is saved from a path of naughtiness when he gets caught burgling a Japanese man’s house, who then offers to train him up with his own son. The japs son dies in the war, then he gets ill, and Van Damme vows to enter the secret Kumite tournament to prove his style of Ninjitsu is the best in the world. To enter, he goes AWOL from the Army (who then chase him throughout the film) and enters the tournament. The customary big redneck Yank (Jackson) is entered and they become friends, until the big bad guy – Bolo Yeung – stamps on his head and puts him in a coma – so more incentive for Van Damme to kick ass. Bolo Yeung is a truly evil Bad Guy, who inflicts pain and death on his opponents, and is just plain scary.

The range of fight styles shown is amazing – from Kung Fu to Karate to Muay Thai to Monkey Style! It’s all here, and the fight scenes are a joy to watch!

Of course, Van Damme meets Yeung in the finals, and Yeung blinds Van Damme with some powder… Luckily, Van Damme, in an earlier excellent training/torture montage, has trained to fight blindfolded, so concentrates and gets in the zone, then kicks Yeung’s ass – eventually getting him to submit and admit defeat. By the final, the MP’s that were chasing Van Damme are cheering him on, and he goes back peacefully after he wins.

This film has possibly The Worst Sex Scene EVER! All you see is sweaty backs and cheesy music.

It’s also allegedly based on the true story of Frank Dux, Ninjitsu ‘Master’ and holder of untold tournament ‘records’. But, I’m sorry to say that Mr Dux was a big fat liar who made much of this up. Still an awesome film, though! And again – so is the cheesy music!

………… so where the hell are all the Bruce Lee films, you ask??? Well they’re not here. Because I don’t particularly like them. I never have been a big fan of Bruce Lee’s films, and to me even when I was young they looked dated and over the top. As a martial artist, I think very highly of Bruce Lee – but his films don’t turn me on as much as the above. So there.

Any I’ve missed out that you feel should be here?

Mounting Veho Muvi Cams

Mounting Veho Muvi Cams

Everyone has to agree that these cams are great.  Whether you use an £8 MD80 or £60 Veho Muvi Pro, the fact is that only 5 years ago this sort of kit would cost well over £200.

The main problem people come up against, and one of the most common questions I’m asked, is where is it best to mount it on a bike?

I like the cheap and easy option.  Duct tape, a bit of foam, and you can pretty much mount this anywhere just using the tape and foam itself to get the right view angle.

I’ve mounted cams on track bikes in minutes this way.  If you have a heavily tinted screen it cuts your options right down, but otherwise most bikes will be able to take the cam on the rear of its dash.  This can be a bit fiddly, buit obviously you get protection from the elements and especially wind noise.

Incidentally, some cams need a bit of tape over the microphone hole to filter out most of the wind noise whilst keeping the bass sound of the engine.  Have a play around.

On some bikes (like my ZX9R C model), you can tape the camera to the front of the brake fluid reservoir and get good results.  This was my chosen place.

I even fashioned a custom mount to cut down on vibration and be easy and quick to remove and install:

If you’ve got good duct tape you can mount it pretty much anywhere, facing in any direction.

For my Veho HD10+ I tried the duct tape method but it wasn’t that great because of the cameras extra size.

I decided to have a play around with the ‘official’ mountings supplied with it.  The smaller cams and MD80 has similar mounts and so this may also work fine for them.

I found the tank mount had far too much vibration to make it useable.

The mounting I use now is actually kind-of a mistake, where I wanted to try one of the sticky pads on my top yoke, but found it doesn’t quite fit on there and has to be at a slight angle.  And on full lock the screen brace touches the camera…

Luckily it works really well.  This is good, because that glue on the sticky pad is immensely strong!  Make sure you’ve got it exactly where you want it.

You may also want to try (especially for the smaller cams) one mounted on your pillion footrest hanger, or even the number plate surround.

Or my trusty helmet camera using a length of duct tape behind the helmets cheek pad and just wrapping it around the camera and sticking it down outside the visor.

You can see loads of videos using all of these cameras and more on my YouTube channel:

Feel free to subscibe!

Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

I always used to have a (possibly unfounded) hatred of Pirelli tyres.  It was probably more from having ancient tyres on my very first Yamaha TZR125 that had all the grip of a paranoid schizophrenic watching a bad Kubrick film.

Despite this, I was impressed by their claims and marketing when they brought out their brand spanking new Angel ST tyre – I was first aware of these in early 2009.  They promised more grip in the dry and wet, better cold performance, and claimed to see over 9000 miles from a rear tyre on a Hayabusa!

Oh, and they had a funky picture in the tread of an angel, that wore down to become the image of a demon.

I’ve used many tyres on many bikes, so am fully aware of just how far tyre technology advances in the space of a few short years, and so decided to take a chance on them being fitted to my trusty Kawasaki ZX9R C2.

I very quickly found that they met all these claims of more grip, and even when running them in (personally I think more like 10 miles to run new tyres in, rather than the idiot-proof 100 miles they recommend) they were well behaved and inspired confidence.

Over the next few years I found they offered at least all of the grip of other sports-touring tyres on the market, and can also confirm that where I got 3000 miles from a rear tyre such as an Avon AV56 or Bridgestone BT021, the Angels give me at least twice that, of very hard road riding all year round.

I even tested these tyres on snow and mud and ice.  They were crap, of course, but I didn’t fall off and tear my petticoat!

Recently, I had decided to do a trackday on my ZX9R, and not having the funds to switch to track tyres, decided to try out the Angels.

I thought that they would overheat and slide, or just fall apart at track temperatures, as they warm up so quickly on the roads.

I’m no Rossi on track, but usually run at the sharp end of Intermediate groups, laying down 2min laps around Oulton Park and around 1:03 at Mallory on 600cc hire bikes.

Well I can now confirm that at a super-abrasive Rockingham International circuit, they gave absolutely no problems, and I even put in a lap in the low 1:40s – with warped brake discs meaning I was making up the time through corner speed and very heavy trail braking up to the apex of corners!

They wore extremely well, with no tearing and just a bit of balling-up at the edge of the tyres.

I heard from several people around 5 years ago that the sports-touring tyres of the time (before the Angels came out) had the equivalent grip of the best Grand Prix level race tyres of the late 1990’s.  Now, with that in mind, and considering they had a lot more to give when I tried them on track, then WHY exactly does anyone believe they need some super-sticky tyre for the road that only lasts 500 miles?

I think you could happily run in the fast group, and they would be enough for 90% of trackday riders – let alone road riders…

What Tyre Pressures Do You Run?

That’s an important question that I missed!  Everyone in the pub is an expert on tyre pressures.  Almost always these ‘experts’ will tell you to run low pressures for grip – probably because they heard it off a racer sometime.  Well, even if they are on a track, they’re probably wrong!

Generally, I’m a believer in the Universal Standard road tyre pressures of 36psi front and 42psi rear.    I may run a 40psi rear because I don’t take many pillions these days, so don’t need the extra psi.  Sort out your suspension and riding/body position first before touching your tyre pressures!  And here’s why…

I consulted a REAL tyre expert at Rockingham, and was advised to run pressures of 34 front and 32 rear on track.  The reason they’re not much lower (as I’d expected to be told) is that tyres like these aren’t designed to run lower pressures, and so by lowering them below that, you overstress their structures as they move beyond their intended limits, causing not just less grip but the potential for a total failure.  You don’t want this on a racetrack, and you definitely don’t want this on the road!

Best Videos EVER (Part 2)

Best Videos EVER (Part 2)

10. Boobas New Shoes

11. Arab Drifting

12. Holy Ghost VS Pendulum & MC GQ – Baptazia

13. Dont fall asleep at the game

14. Reporter turns ghetto in 3 seconds

15. Thrust SSC goes supersonic

This one just blows my mind!  I always thought it was just driving in a straight line, but this shows different.  Watch out for the full steering lock and the line “700(mph)… just about in control… on the wrong line… don’t worry about it…”.  That’s about as close to death as it gets!

16. Travis Pastrana Backflip Tricycle

17. Terry Tate – Office Linebacker – Original Pilot

18. Crossing a Colombian bridge

Hope you enjoyed them as much as I do!

Best Videos EVER (Part 1)

Best Videos EVER (Part 1)

You have to admit that YouTube is just brilliant!  So many hours have disappeared after I just went to watch one video clip on there, and then spent the rest of the night clicking links.  So I thought I’d share my personal favourites from over the years with you!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, and hope there are at least a few here that you’ve never seen before.

1. Charlie Bit Me

An all-time classic with nearly 10 million views!

2. Cat vs Printer

3. Ice Diving Face Plant

4. Ultimate Sleeper Drag

I love the sound of this one, and the reaction of the crowd!

5. Hairdryer prank

6. Stick Guns

Awesome short film that takes me back to my childhood!

7. Interrupting a parade WIN

8. The Ultimate Pisshead!

9. Japanese Crystal Ball Performer (Contact Juggling)

My Favourite Road – Bridgnorth To Ludlow

My Favourite Road – Bridgnorth To Ludlow

As a biker, I’m happy to just jump on the bike and ride.  It doesn’t matter where I’m going, or for how long.

Much as I hate paying almost £1.40 for a litre of Super Unleaded petrol, I WILL pay it and have fk all to show from it apart from a smile on my face and slightly less rubber on my tyres, and maybe less plastic on my toe and kneesliders.  Yeah, screw you Society!  That’s how I roll!

Of course, I do have my favourite destinations.  The Redditch Cloverleaf is almost impossible to resist anytime I have to ride past and the roads are dry.  I mean, you simply pull off the dual carriageway and scrape your knee around the four corners and then carry on in the direction you were headed as if nothing had happened.  It really is Heaven.

Except this year the road surface on the Cloverleaf is rather shocking… The tarmac is broken and very rough on EXACTLY the line you want to be taking around there!

Anyway, enough about that – what I really wanted to blog about here is one of my favourite roads.

It’s the B4364 that runs from Bridgnorth to Ludlow.  It’s over 22 miles through some of the most beautiful Shropshire countryside, and has everything from open straights and fast sweeping corners to mega-tight OFM (“Oh Fuck Me!”) twisties.

Ludlow itself is a very nice place for a stop-off, as is Bridgnorth – and the Quatt Biker Cafe just outside Bridgnorth is always a mecca for bikers of all kinds who drop in for a bacon sandwich and a coffee.

At the Ludlow end of the B4364, if you head in the opposite direction towards Kidderminster, you cross the stunning Cleehill – where you’ll see a lot of my bike photographs are taken.

This was a lovely sunny day, so I got the Veho HD10+ mounted on the bike and decided to get footage of the whole of the B4364, at legal speeds to show how it is still a lot of fun to ride without being silly.

I hope you enjoy this and don’t criticise my riding too harshly!

All The Ovens In China Are Knackered

All The Ovens In China Are Knackered

(Originally written in 2009 – I now have a working oven again)

Anyone who knows me will know I’m partial to Chinese food.

The REALLY lucky ones will have actually got to taste my Chinese cooking.

I’m good.  I mean good to the point that there are now several dishes that I make much better than any Chinese restaurant!  I’m still learning and still experimenting, but I seem to have a knack for this stuff!

It’s a bloody good job I’m good, too!  My oven is knackered, and takes three or four times longer to cook anything, and even then it only cooks from the bottom electric element.  Oh how I long to eat pizza again that isn’t sloppy on top with a rock hard bottom…  So using the wok for anything and everything is most definitely on the cards!

I’m also a perfectionist, and am constantly refining everything from how long and how I cook stuff for, right down to how I cut the meat and vegetables in preparation!

I’ve just had my first crack at Prawn Kung Po – one of my favourite dishes from the local restaurant (Called ‘Trans’!!!  “HARRO TRANS!”) – although they batter and deep fry all the meat in theirs.  Deep frying in the wok is next on my list to do Kung Po their way and also Crispy Shredded Beef.  OM NOM NOM NOM!

So I’m going to let all you buggers in on a few of my secrets that you’re welcome to try for yourself.

First off has to be the base of many meals:

Egg Fried Rice

Ideally, you’ll be using cold leftover rice that’s been in the fridge for about a day.  This hasn’t happened for me yet, so I have to improvise a bit!

Boil up your rice (white long grain) in a saucepan of water for around 20 mins until the grains are soft but still a little firm.  Some people do all that crap where all the water is gone just as it’s cooked etc but they’re witches and I’ll report anyone who can do it.  I mean, what’s wrong with just tipping the stuff out into a sieve like normal people do?  Right?  So do this.

Then give it a good running under the cold tap.  The colder you get it the better, because if not it all goes clumpy and mushy and you’ll have to tell everyone you’ve cocked it up in your Facebook status.  So get it all nice and cool and then leave it in the seive while you prepare the rest of your food so it drains off as well as it can.

For the egg fried rice my style, this means chopping the green leafy part of a spring onion as finely as you can.  If you put peas in this I will find you and kill you.  Also make sure everything you’re going to need is easily to hand with the top off/open.  One thing I love about Chinese cookery is the preparation and then the way it all happens at once and makes you wish you had about another five arms to sort it out!  Intense, baby!

Probably the most imprortant tip I’ll give you is to use Peanut Oil or ‘ground nut oil’ in your wok.  Seriously, this tastes far better than any other oil – mainly because you can’t taste it – and also has a higher boiling point so you won’t burn stuff and catch fire!  If you have peanut allergies it’s tough titty and it sucks to be you!

Put the wok over the gas on high for a few seconds then add a splash of oil.

Now I have two methods for this.  I used to fry/scramble the eggs first and add the rice last, but I’ve tried the more traditional method tonight and may well stick to this…

So whack the rice into your hot wok.  At this point in any cooking, if you haven’t done it already, I would STRONGLY recommend that you have a good old Hurdy Gurdy Shurdy Flurdy Birdy.

What?  I’ve lost you???

Ok, ok… Go and watch a clip of Chef from The Muppet Show.  I’ll wait.

Got it now?  Yes!  This improves ANY dish you ever make!

So you fry the rice for a few minutes so it’s all nice and hot.  Make a kind of nest in the middle of the rice (so the bottom of the nest is your wok and all the rice is around the sides) and crack your egg into there.  Give it a poke around until it’s scrambled and cooked, and then fold it into the rice.  Add your sliced spring onion and a bit of garlic powder (if using fresh crushed garlic add this to the oil at the start), and fry for a while longer.  I’ve found the ‘secret ingredient’ here is to add one to one and a half drops per serving of Sesame Oil.  If desired you can add a few dashes of soy sauce here or on the plate.

Tip it out onto a plate then put this in your broke-assed oven to keep warm whilst you cook the main dish.

See?  Easy!

Now go and enjoy!