Apple crumble and clotted cream – for breakfast?

31 Oct

I’ve just returned from north Devon, Saunton Sands to be precise, where I spent last week zooming into the beach on my boogie board in my new best outfit: my 5mm thick winter wetsuit. Okay, it’s probably not the most flattering look ever, it turns you into a blubber-clad seal, but it does mean I can now swim in the sea all winter for which I am prepared to take a sartorial hit. (And the great thing about a large surf board is that it hides a multitude of wobbly sins between car and wave). I’m firmly of the belief that the best fun for all the family is surfing; there’s nothing better than granny, mum, dad, and two kids all shooting up the beach together on a wave. The endorphin rush is fantastic. It really is a winner.

 Lucky we all had such great bonding as there were – as ever – issues around food. One morning, I came downstairs to discover my mum feeding the kids apple crumble, clotted cream and brown sugar – for breakfast. Now I really am not a food fascist but that isn’t on. Unfortunately, my mum – who, bless her, had been up playing Monopoly with four small girls since 6am – took the suggestion that this wasn’t perhaps the most nutritionally great breakfast, badly. I think she feels got at since I am forever asking her not to feed the kids a diet of constant cupcakes, sweets and treats (ok if she’s just coming for tea, but not so great over a whole week). I suppose having been a Fat Kitten myself, there are probably some underlying issues around eating between my mother and I and that gets projected on to what we feed the children: I find myself wincing as she piles heaps of butter on to toast, or heaps drifts of brown sugar onto yoghourt.  I know she thinks I am being over-controlling, and neurotic and that it is a granny’s perogative to provide sweet treats to her grandchildren. To which I say, within reason. But when I am on a deliberate plan of trying to get my girls to eat healthily and take exercise to keep their weight within reasonable parameters (they both bulked up when my lovely Slovakian used to give them industrial quantities of pancakes and mashed potato so we’ve been on a re-education phase ever since). This isn’t helped by granny doling out the sugar – whether it’s cream teas, Devon fudge, tarte tatin (delicious and home made), home made membrilo (wow, we’ve had an abundance of quinces this autumn) or cake.

Even more tricky for the family dynamic on a seaside half term break, is that my sister’s children are bean poles, so she is pretty relaxed about granny’s feeding habits. The result? I end up looking neurotic and feeling ganged up on by my mother and sister.  I’m sure this is as much about me as anything else: having really tried to get my own weight undercontrol (my mother is always apologising for over-feeding me as a kid) I think it is understan

Glorious Saunton

dable to want to save my own daughters from a tubby fate – perhaps my mother sees that in some way as an attack on her parenting skills. It’s not her fault I was fat. I ate because I was unhappy, not just because I was fed a lot. but it’s amazing how those old tricky family dynamics can be alarmingly resurrected during a week of togetherness. Luckily, there is so much fun stuff that we all like to do together that the good far out numbers the tricky. Good on granny for going surfing – and even buying her own wetsuit – for the first time in fifty years. Family holidays: don’t you just love em?


5 Responses to “Apple crumble and clotted cream – for breakfast?”

  1. Anon November 4, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    “Your Slovakian”? Do you mean your childminder/nanny/babysitter/au pair? Or do you have various nationalities knocking around at home who are just referred to through country of origin?

    • fattkittens November 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

      You are right! Very remiss of me to refer to my beloved ex aupair so cavalierly, promise it won’t happen again! guilty as charged

  2. Middle-aged Matron November 4, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    My mother feeds my children Dolly Mixtures after their breakfast toast. Insists small children need sugar and they’re nourishing. Grandma’s prerogative, she says. She never let us have morning sweets when we were little, though. I think it’s a way of consolidating affections when their are long gaps between reunions.

  3. Claudia November 10, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Well done for keeping your composure Fat Kittens. My Mum is much the same with my daughter who although very slim, can not resist the temptation of a chunky Kit Kat. My Mother keeps a supply in her bag in fact.. Family dynamics always make for an interesting holiday but go easy on your Mum, my Grandmother (who died in 1999) used to bake me cakes which was to the detriment of my figure and in some ways confused me about how to show love, but I remember her with such fondness.

    • fattkittens November 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      thanks Claudia – I’m going to write a longer feature about all of this for the sunday times magazine, would you like to be interviewed, can be anonymous if you’d prefer? email me at if you are up for it x

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