Down & Out In A London Kitchen

Esther Walker started a food blog called Recipe Rifle in 2009 when desperate and unemployed. In 2010 she married restaurant critic Giles Coren and far, far too quickly had a baby daughter, called Kitty.

And then the sun came out...

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Monday, 28 May 2012

When I was little, I liked summer. We had a big garden with a swing and trees and there was a lot of jumping through sprinklers, lazy picnics and going for weeks without wearing shoes.

But then there was a middle bit that I didn’t like – that bit where it was difficult to enjoy doing what I wanted to do, which was to sit under a tree reading Wind in the Willows, because I was supposed to be out carousing with my friends in public spaces.

But Kitty has saved me from all that. Her need, her desperate want and desire to be outside in all her waking moments, so arduous in the winter, is brilliant in the summer. She just wants to stagger about from sun up to sun down in just her nappy shouting “Bee!” “Flower!” “Ant!”

Her routine, which can be mind-bending when you are confined by weather or light to your house, gives sunny days a shape and a meaning that they haven’t had for me for a long time.

Last weekend we found ourselves messing about in the toddler park at 8.30am, with a makeshift breakfast picnic of take-away lattes and croissants for everyone. It was paradise: sun, blue skies, an uplifting breeze. I can honestly say we all had a brilliant time.

Before I had a baby what would I be doing on a day like that at that time in the morning? Nursing a hangover, probably, waiting until it was time to go and sweat in a pub garden at lunchtime before sleeping the afternoon away, vaguely worrying that there was a big party going on somewhere without me.

I’ve always hated that stupid thing that people say about children, you know that “it’s all worth it in the end”. It seems so trite and so silly, when babies and toddlers are capable of making you really suffer. But the last two weeks have made me see that not only is having a child worth it, it actually makes things better, more fun and enjoyable – I feel right in the thick of it, on the front line, like I am really living and getting the most out of things in a way that I wasn’t able to before.

One day Kitty will probably feel like she has to be out carousing with friends in public places on sunny days – not dossing about eating ice cream with her mummy. I truly hope I can put day off for as long as possible.

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