About Annabel - Q & A - Page 3
“Guru of babycare”
“Any mother who does not have at least one of Annabel’s books in her kitchen, well thumbed and splattered with food, should waste no time in putting that right.”
The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner
What was the most memorable event in your life and why?
It has to be the birth of my children, but the birth of my son on the staircase at home, had its moments...
After Natasha died, I was lucky to fall pregnant again within 3 months. However, when I called my doctor to say I was in labour he told me to stay at home as it would be a while before the baby would be ready to come.
I took his advice and waited, and guess what, he was wrong - take note any pregnant mums - listen to your body, you know what you feel.
My husband ended up delivering the baby on the stairs and although he called for an ambulance it took 2 hours before anyone arrived.
What about your kids?
Nicholas, my oldest, he’s 17 and about to go to University - he is a fantastic tennis player and ace skier. Lara is 16 and she’s very popular. Everyone loves her, she has a sweet nature - never goes anywhere without about 6 friends not even to the toilet. Scarlett is 14. She has huge great big blue eyes and looks very angelic but she’s a real drama queen. I taught them all to play the violin when they were three and they are all really good musicians. Nicholas played a concerto at the Royal Albert Hall when he was 11. Sometimes I get them all to play together but it usually ends in a huge fight and I need to lie down in a dark room for 2 hours with a packet of paracetamol.
What’s your best family day out?
I love roller blading in the park with my kids followed by an enormous picnic on the grass and then feeding the leftovers to the ducks.
Do your kids cook and how did you encourage them to get into it?
I don’t think any of them will be cooking in a restaurant any time soon but yes they can all cook a fairly ok meal. They started cooking at 7 or 8. Their birthday parties were the only ones where everyone would turn up and there would be nothing to eat just a table full of ingredients. We spent the next hour making fairy cakes, cheesy feet and pizza faces and hey presto everyone loved it!
... but you should have the seen the mess.
I was known as the only Mum who told the parents to send their kids in old clothes that they didn’t mind getting dirty.
What is one of your proudest moments?
This year I was awarded an MBE in the Queens Honours List. I didn’t believe it until I saw my name in the newspaper. I felt proud that I had been able to make a difference to people’s lives and it made me realise there was a lot more I want to do to help other children. When I wrote my first book it was as a legacy to my daughter Natasha. I found it very difficult to come to terms with losing her but I would never have written my books if she had not come into my life...
Which are your children’s favourite recipes?
Nicholas loves my Multi Layered Shepherd’s Pie, Scarlett likes my Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce and Lara eats anything if it’s covered in my Dressing for Dinner Sauce - it’s a Japanese style dressing flavoured with soy sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar, tomato puree, lemon juice and a pinch of sugar. My kids really are my inspiration.
As a result of this - we are ketchup free house.
What’s the name of your best friend and how long have you known him/ her?
My best friend is Stephen. He has a zest for life that is infectious and he’s completely non-conformist although he wears a suit most of the time and looks very conservative. He loves riding motorbikes, quad bikes, and likes hang gliding and microlights. I know that if I was ever going through a difficult time he would be there for me and he would make me laugh with his wicked sense of humour.
Do you play any sports?
I love tennis and I try to play once a week. I adore skiing even though I didn’t take it up until my mid 20’s. I also like skating especially outdoors at Christmas time. Occasionally I go rollerblading in the park with my children which is fun...
What do you do to relax?
I’m not good at relaxing - my books and cookery are both my work and relaxation.
But, like any Mum, I also love spending time with my kids just fooling around, and nothing can beat the laughing that we do together for relaxation. If I’ve had a really full on day I try and force myself to go to the gym - I dread the ‘getting there bit’ but once there I actually find it pretty relaxing and of course feel great walking out! I suppose I read quite a bit at the end of the day just before I go to sleep.
What are your hobbies?
I really enjoy playing bridge and play with eight girlfriends on a Monday night. I also like playing Backgammon and Poker and love playing board games or card games with my children.
We all love to win, so even Monopoly can get quite competitive.
What were the last CD’s you purchased?
Joe Jackson and Bob Sinclair. Mostly my son downloads music for me onto my iPod - that’s the advantage of having a teenager.
What’s your favourite TV programme?
Desperate Housewives. I see bits of myself in all of them...
What’s Your Favourite Book?
I’m an avid reader - there are four books that spring to mind: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, Music and Silence by Rose Tremain, Bird Song by Sebastian Faulks and Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach.
What’s Your favourite film?
My all time favourite film is Gone With The Wind. In fact I called my youngest daughter Scarlett after the character Scarlett O’Hara played by Vivien Leigh. Interestingly she has taken on her characteristics as well and is pretty wilful.
If you weren’t an author what would you be doing?
I’m passionate about food so maybe it would be running a restaurant or a delicatessen. The perfect job for me would be as a restaurant critic.