A tempting freebie landed on my desk this week. It was a night's stay in a plush hotel just about to open in Cheltenham and it was for any time in August. Perfect.
Perfect why? Because it just so happens that the Gas will be playing their home games in Cheltenham next year and their first home game is in August.
Without further ado I got in touch with the PR company responsible and booked a night at the Hotel du Vin, which I am reliably informed will specialise in good food and wine. Now, those who know me will be quite aware that I'm not a great fan of the fruits of the vine. But it seemed an opportunity not to be missed and will impress my girlfriend Wren without a doubt. The fact that she will have to endure an hour and a half at a footie match with a load of bonkers Bristolians is a small price to pay for staying in the lap of luxury.
My next thought was to obtain tickets for the match. After all, hadn't we filled Wembley for the play-off final just a few weeks ago? There could be a big demand.
Immediately I was on to the Gas website. And immediately I started to have a nasty little feeling nagging at the back of my brain.
For some reason there were few mentions of our opening game against Crewe taking place at Cheltenham. In fact, according to said website, we would be entertaining Crystal Palace in the cup the previous week at our old spiritual home the Memorial Ground. I read on.
Eventually I found a piece about the move. Bristol Rovers, it said, would be playing only their last 10 GAMES in Cheltenham! Basically, I had booked into the hotel for the first Saturday home match of the season, believing we would be taking on the team that Withers fervently supports (in his very understated way of demonstrating fervour - blood pressure never getting over 68) at our temporary home.
Oh well. Now it means I will have to pick Wren up in Bristol, go to see the Gas, then travel the best part of an hour up the motorway for our luxury night in Cheltenham.
The best laid plans...
Here's that recipe from yesterday which I hadn't time to post because I needed to join Roberts in the pub... urgently.
I don't know why it's called Jazz and Spice Shepherd's pie, although Wren is now well aware of the spice connection.
1lb floury potatoes, diced
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 small chopped onion
1 chopped garlic clove
1 large carrot
10oz minced beef (or Lamb preferrably, as it's Shepherds pie)
2 tablespoons mild curry paste or 1 tablespoon of madras (my choice)
8 oz lamb or beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup/tomato paste
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 tsp cornflour
2 oz thawed frozen peas
2 chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons milk
a knob of butter
grated mature cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes in boiling water until soft enough to mash
heat the oil in a saucepan or wok
cook the onion, garlic, carrot and mince for 3/4 minutes
Stir in the curry paste, stock, ketchup and soy
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes
Add the peas and carrots, season and thicken with the cornflour
transfer to an ovenproof dish
Meanwhile Mash the potatoes, then add the milk and butter and a bit of white pepper, mix in
Spread the mash over the meat mixture, make a crisscross pattern on the top with a fork, then sprinkle the grated cheese generously over the top.
Cook under the grill for 10 minutes to gently brown the top.
Serve with garlic bread or a "nice" salad (as Wren would say)
It's quite yummy with a nice little kick.
Apologies, by the way, to Kitchen Hand. She is in fact a he. Doh! Another cock up to add to the growing list.