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How not to look like a fat frump when pregnant

You will notice, because you are smart, that I almost never promote anything on this blog. “Oh it’s too much like hard work,” I say to the occasional food person who gets in touch wondering if I’d like a free packet of spelt. “I’m so lazy,” I say. “I’ll never get round to it, sorry.”

But the fact is that I’m not interested in food freebies. (Sometimes I wonder whether I’m interested in food full stop.) If I want something for free I will say to my husband: “I want some rare albino truffle please,” and he will make a phonecall and it will turn up on my doorstep and I won’t even have to write about it.

But clothes? Cloooooothes?? Special nice clothes for preggy ladies that don’t make you look fat or pinch your bump or squish your boobs?

“Do you want some?” asked my friend Celia. “From ME+EM. We want you to be a sort of brand ambassador.”

“FUCK YEAH” I screamed. I didn’t even stop to say “Oh but why me? I’m so shit and fat and ugly. You don’t want me, you want someone more glamorous and interesting.” No, I did NOT say that, I just asked how much stuff I could have. Should I hire a parcel van to drive to the shop? Because I can do one on my Addison Lee app…

Then I immediately started to fret about it, as I always do. That the clothes wouldn’t fit or wouldn’t be nice and I would take a lot and then not wear them but have to be nice about them anyway. And then I would break our special bond, the one where I tell you the absolute truth about absolutely everything and don’t try and sell you anything, ever.

Don’t worry. I am not leading you a merry dance. This shit is for real. It’s amazing. There are dresses here that make you look, if you’re under, say, 20-24 weeks like you’re not pregnant. Especially from the front. And after that, they just expand like magic so even though you look like a Sherman tank, you feel comfy.

Pregnancy wear is mostly so so horrible. Massive floaty things with a big print. But this is all terrifically chic. And THE best long-length jersey vests and long-sleeved t-shirts EVAH.


These are the things I got, which are particularly excellent and I recommend to you, pregnant or not. More original, I think, and better fabrics than Isabella Oliver or Seraphine – though God bless them both, eh? Where would we be without them.

On the ME+EM website they do a thing where they use skinny models for all the clothes, so you can’t really imagine how they would work on a massive pregnant arse and giant blobby tits, so this is my edit for anyone with a blubbery mess to cover up.

Just think of me like a very badass Gwyneth Paltrow, yeah?

Almost all of this comes in different colours and is available HERE. The sizing is very generous. I am 5’6” and weigh in at 10 stone 3.5 and fit into a small.

Crepe swing dress. MAKES YOU LOOK NOT PREGNANT. £104. You will wear it everywhere and it’s crepe so it won’t get bobbles.

Tuck neck swing dress. This is just so cool, such a nice shape. Great with long boots, ankle boots or little slippers. £115. I will be wearing this on Christmas Day.

Extra long layer T. The last word in long-length long-sleeved tops. Soft as a kitten. £42. There are also excellent vests at £19 each. Fucking BARGAIN.

V-neck box pleat dress. Very similar to one at Isabella Oliver but a nicer colour, a more slimming fit and less expensive at £104

An amazing thing. If you only get one thing when you are pregnant, get this. It is sort of drapey and concealing without being heavyweight so you don’t end up looking like a piece of soft furniture. It also has lovely long sleeves. I plan to wear mine until it has holes in it. Knit sleeve 3/4 jacket – £119

And a snood. Because I’ve decided that I hate scarves. Wide rib snood – £68

Happy shopping and have a great weekend.


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Tapenade (NOT)

It is frustrating, I remember, when close friends or relatives have children when you don’t. They disappear, for days, weeks, months – years! – on end with no explanation. What can they possibly be doing, you think, that is so incompatible with replying to emails and text messages? Why do I always get the sense that they would rather do anything than come out for dinner, or go for drinks? Don’t they care about me, their friend, any more? Don’t they understand that they cannot, should not, let their children take over their lives? It’s hard not to take it personally, to write them off.

But let me tell you, please, what we are doing, (as I wipe vanilla ice cream off the buggy, the screams of newborn who does not like getting out of the bath ringing in my ears). If you have one child you are in a constant state of semi-anxiety, if not in an actual no-sleeping, neurotic dark, dark, dark meltdown, and if you have two children you are not so much anxious as spread incredibly thin, like the last scraping of butter (where the FUCK is the Ocado man???) on the last slice of toast.

If I am not with one child, I am with the other. Or I am with both. If I am not with either, I am with my husband, trying to make up for completely ignoring him most of the time. If I am on my own I am organising four peoples’ lives. I am doing Ocado orders, I am making lists, I am writing cheques, I am writing pieces for newspapers, I am frantically checking that I am on top of upcoming birthdays, thank you notes, RSVPs, two sets of medical appointments, the administration requirements of our summer holidays, the administration requirements of Kitty’s nursery, where she starts in September.

And this is all with me having desperately tried to buy my way out of trouble in advance of the birth of Sam. Let me say this: it cannot be done. I’ve got help coming out my fucking ears, it’s like Downton Abbey round my house, and I still feel like I am only just keeping a grip on my life. I feel like I spend all day every day just answering questions. Where’s my this, where’s my that, should Sam wear this? Or is it too hot today? What do you want Kitty to have for lunch? Is there any more bleach? Where is Sam’s passport application? Can I watch Peppa Pig? Can you sign here, love? Where do you want these? Where is dinner tonight? What is dinner tonight? Can I have a biscuit? What’s that noise? WAAAAAHHHHH?? Have you seen my keys?

Then there are the hormones. (At least I hope it’s hormones and therefore temporary.) Oh my god the hormones. Horrifying, massive zits and I feel like if I dared to start crying I’d never stop. After I had Kitty, there was only Kitty to really see the mess Mother Nature’s uppers and downers made on a 30-something woman – but now there are so many more people to be victim of my moods.

This has been made doubly worse by the fact that I’ve had a troll. Yes an actual internet troll, who wrote me a series of emails saying absolutely unspeakable, unrepeatable things about Kitty – the general tone of which was “if you hate Kitty so much, why don’t you kill her?” One email’s subject line was “Kitty is such a little bitch.”

I felt:

1 Horrified: why have I exposed my family to the grossness of the internet by writing this stupid pointless blog.

2 Baffled: WHY would someone bother to send emails like that?

3 Guilty: do I make out like I hate Kitty? Is that how it comes across? Because if that is the case then that is a disaster.

I mostly assume, when I am crouched down next to Kitty, holding very tightly on to her arm and saying in a not-unthreatening voice “You do NOT throw sand. We do NOT DO THAT. If you do that again we are going home” or praying hard for bedtime, that this is a pretty average experience for a parent of toddlers. Some days are delightful, some days are ghastly, surely?

And when I write about it, I write about it reckoning that no-one needs help having a good time with their children, no-one needs help loving their children, or finding them funny or delightful, or clever, or beautiful. All that is easy.

Where we all need help, where I think I help – if at all – is by describing the shit, difficult bits of life when it comes to cooking, relationships and children, in the hope that you will read it and maybe feel less alone. I just want to help you feel less lonely.

But maybe I’m not right. Maybe most people just have a brilliant time with all their kids, all the time, and never have to bite their hands to stop them from dishing out a fury-smack. Maybe I am just a fucking witch.

Anyway, where was I? Sorry, I’m just all over the place. I don’t know what I think about anything anymore. I don’t think I actually really have any thoughts about anything at the moment. I used to have all these ideas and theories about parenting but now all I do is plan, organise and make lists and wonder why there is always someone in my house who is miserable. I’m no longer able to deal in ideas, I deal only in plain facts.

I thought I had a recipe for tapenade to give you here – a great, inexpensive dip that can be whizzed up at short notice for an impromptu warm-weather gathering- but I’ve realised that the magazine feature, which I gave it to as an “exclusive” recipe (snort) keeps being delayed, so I cannot print it here yet either.

I suppose not everyone can be as organised as me.

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How to Make Your Own Temporary Brick Grill

Whenever I post a video involving my grill – a common occurrence this time of year – I get a bunch of emails asking what kind of grill I’m using, and the reply is always the same. It’s a charcoal-version of the Weber “Q,” and you can’t buy one because they stopped making them. Sorry, but I think I have an idea.

With just a few dollars worth of bricks, and a cast iron grate, you can reproduce the same basic grill I’m using. Besides, yours is going to look a hell of a lot cooler, and you can tell your hipster friends it was made from “reclaimed bricks.” Just be sure to use plain clay bricks. You certainly don’t want anything that’s been treated with chemicals and/or will explode. If you get these at a home improvement store, be sure to ask the guy. In fact, ask that guy’s boss.

As far as the grate goes, if you want to splurge, order the porcelain-coated, cast iron versions that the major brands use. They all sell replacement grates, but just about anything will work, since you can change your brick layout to make it fit. If you want to save a few bucks, check the online auctions, as well as outdoorsy stores, and flea markets.

Besides working beautifully, it’s temporary state is perfect for people who only grill two or three times a summer. Just set it this up in some back corner of the yard, and break it down when the weather turns. I hope you give this fun DIY project a try soon. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Apparently you don’t want the ash from charcoal briquettes in your garden. However, the ash from natural wood charcoal is desirable, so there you go.

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