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.

If you haven’t got company, you haven’t got anything

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 15 May 2012

For the last two and a half months, we’ve all been living with my parents, while we have a kitchen extension built.

At first it was a bit tricky, a bit of a culture shock. It felt like camping, we didn’t know where anything was, couldn’t seem to get anything done. My parents’ house is large, chaotic, a bit ramshackle and curling at the edges. My mother believes very strongly that unless something is utterly broken and beyond repair, buying a replacement is morally outrageous. I, on the other hand, give lorry-loads of stuff to charity for such crimes as being “slightly the wrong colour” or “a bit annoying to look at”.

The huge benefit of living here, of course, is that the house is full of toys and its ramshackle nature means that Kitty can make a terrible mess and no-one cares. The other major plus is how many people there are here, all the time; my mum, dad, my cousin, (who rents out a room upstairs), my sister who comes here most mornings with her two and a half year-old and my other sister who sometimes turns up with her three boys under 5. There’s always someone around to talk to or play with. Any evening that my husband and I want to go out, we can because there’s someone to watch the monitor for a few hours.

So it’s turned out to be actually sort of blissful.

And yet I was still surprised that I burst into tears when I went back to my house to view the completed works. The building work went without a hitch and the new space – a larger kitchen and a new play area, ought to be incredibly exciting – what could I possibly be upset about?

All I could think about is how lonely it will be.

So I’ve decided to make my house a real kiddie honeypot, with endless supplies of Playdough, CBeebies, macaroni and cheese, fingerpainting, chocolate buttons and excursions to the swings; I’ve made my sister faithfully promise that she will spend at least one morning a week at our house and I’m hoping that, like the Pied Piper, other people will follow. If I’ve learnt anything in the last few months it’s that when you’ve got small children, if you haven’t got company, you haven’t got anything.

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