We’re going to seize the day and make the most of the sunshine. This involves an ambitious trip to a park on the other side of the city with bikes, picnic and flasks of hot drinks. It is ambitious on several levels: impending rain is scheduled for 12 o clock, Ollie is confident on pedalling backwards but not forwards, and there will be a ratio of only 1:3 adults to children. What could possibly go wrong?
The thought of all the preparations needed (flask-finding, bike-pumping…) makes me need a hot bath and a cup of tea before I can do anything, except we have no milk in. I instruct the kids to get dressed in suitable clothes and I jump into the bath. Ollie’s idea of suitable is different to mine. I hear him knocking on Daisy’s door, and lean forward to see what he’s up to. He’s butt-naked apart from a Superman rucksack strapped to his back, and he’s whispering in his sweetest chorister-boy voice: ‘Ameythst! Amethyst!’
What on earth is going on?
‘Enter!’ Barks Daisy from the other side of the door. I’d like to get involved but I know better than to disturb them when they’re getting on. They’ve left the door ajar and Daisy is instructing him to pack his bag. Maybe they’re leaving home? Although I don’t think he’d get very far dressed like that. He has packed the essentials though: a treasure map, a harmonica and the wretched metal detector which has made an appearance again.
An hour later we collect Ollie’s friend, Tommy, and squeeze him and his scooter into the car. First stop, the shop to get some milk. I still haven’t had a cup of tea. I leave the kids in the car with instructions to behave while I nip out. I haven’t even made it to the shop entrance when pumping music starts blaring out from the car. I sigh. Daisy’s put Paul ‘Wellington’ on again. She’s obsessed with the ‘sea-side’ song. I hurry back to the car, worried that Tommy might have had a heart attack in my brief absence.
At the park the kids insist on having the picnic immediately even though it’s only just 11. I lug the huge hamper over to the playground. I can’t believe I’m still functioning on no caffeine. I set the kids up with their lunch boxes and pour myself some tea from the flask. The thing with drinking from a flask in these cold conditions is that you have to pour and drink immediately. Pour and drink. Pour and drink. I pour and Ollie announces he needs a wild wee. I sigh, put down the cup, and take him to stand behind a tree. I wish Tom was here. Wild-weeing boys should really be his department. I hold Ollie’s coat up while the wind whips round his buttocks. I don’t know how he can go in such conditions.
I just get back to the picnic bench, hand outstretched for my luke-warm cuppa when Tommy cheerfully announces that he’d like a wild wee too. I’m beginning to wonder if we’re going to spend all our time at the park taking it in turns to wee behind a tree. When I finally make it back to the table, the tea is stone-cold and the kids merrily skip off to play. I feel like I’m being punished for something I don’t know about.
After a few hours of being buffeted about in the cold, the wind and eventually the rain, this is definitely the type of meal you want: comforting but quick. It’s a wonderful dairy-free carbonara and is Tom’s favourite pasta dish. It’s from Anjum Anand’s Eat Right For Your Body Type.
ingredients. Serves 2
- 140g penne pasta
- 1tbsp olive oil
- Garlic clove, finely chopped
- Onion, finely sliced
- Large courgette, finely sliced
- 12 basil leaves
- 60g goat’s cheese, weight without rind
- tsp lemon zest
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- I egg yolk
Put the pasta on and cook until al dente, approx 10 minutes.
Fry the onion and courgette in the olive oil on a gentle heat for a few minutes. Add the garlic. Fry for a minute, then add six of the whole basil leaves, a little salt & mix then cover for approx five minutes, until the courgette is tender.
Reserve 2-3tbsp of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it and the water to the courgettes. Turn off the heat and add the goat’s cheese, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice and then the yolk. Stir quickly so that the yolk coats everything, and season.
Serve up, adding extra basil and lemon zest as required, plus plenty of black pepper.
This is very delicious, give it a try!