The Isle of Thanet Gazette has a new website ( www.thanetgazette.co.uk) but it’s not yet sporting my latest column. So, for the strong-stomached, you saw it here first. Yes, he really ate the below…

Tom tucks in - photo by his slightly-revolted mother
Tom tucks in – photo by his slightly-revolted mother

Like most mothers, I suffer my areas of guilt. I didn’t do enough sticking and gluing, actively encouraged long hours in front of the video machine when deadlines loomed, and was too often to be found staring at a computer, waving a vague arm and saying shhh, when I should have been holding up flash cards or steaming off to violin lessons and Kumon maths. But on the matter of my handling of the offspring’s food intake, I am unrepentant. I was a “fussy eater” as a child and the anxiety it caused me, lasted years. (The mere phrase “School Dinners”  still leaves me in need of a lie-down.)

So when I gave birth to another picky consumer, I was determined to accommodate. So what, if he had marmite pasta when others ate meat and two veg? Who cared if crisps were high on the menu – they were only potatoes and sunflower oil – or anything green was anathema? I took the view that contentment came before cabbage, that no child had died from chicken nuggets overload and that if they came with a vitamin pill, biscuits could make breakfast. And – above all – that time would sort my son’s eating habits as, eventually, it sorted mine.

As you might imagine, I was not without my critics – rod-for-your-own-back-blah-blah / five-portions-a day-or-may-you-burn-in-hell etc – but vindication has been sweet. The boy has still grown tall and strong, has only the one head, has passed exams, rarely been to the doctor’s and now eats most things. In fact, after a recent flurry of mother-and-son bonding breakfasts, I would say he has a stomach of iron. On the loose excuse that he is busy revising and needs lots of fortification and that I am researching a guide to weight control (apparently if you eat two eggs when you get up, you will consume four hundred fewer calories later), we have been perusing the Isle’s early-morning establishments in search of the perfect start to the day.

As one who tends to judge an eatery by  the quality of its bread, the standard of the wine list and whether the loo is nice, I might have set criteria like whether the cups were pretty, the butter well churned and the coffee real, but I have been quickly put right. Quantity is right up there with quality on this mission.  While I am primly searching the board for egg on hand-cut granary, he is scanning the jumbo double bacon options and working out how many extra sausages he can get. His current favourite is the ultra-friendly Café Kussan on Northdown Road where “the big one” includes chips as well.

We have also worked our way through the Olympia Café (Ethelbert Crescent, Margate): good toast and a size of fry-up that has to be seen – we are talking THREE eggs, THREE sausages, and yes he did eat it all; Forts (Cliff Terrace, Margate), exotic scrambled egg options and a good selection of teas (all a bit delicate for the boy) and the Harbour Café (Harbour Street, Broadstairs) – delightfully seasidey, with a lovely view of the beach. I have also made a break-out trip to the Royal Harbour Brasserie, where I had a delicious duck egg and shrimps (this does not appeal to the bacon-muncher). We are venturing into more of Ramsgate next.

If you have any recommendations for Jones and Son on our tireless quest to review the Big Thanet Breakfast, please let me know. I like the tables to be clean and the mugs unchipped. He’ll eat anything…

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