My Day, My Way

Daily moments that matter with Dawn O’Porter

Dawn O Porter
Hannah Verdier,-Writer

From the king of veg to her favourite smell, we find out what makes the self-confessed cat lady tick

Presenter, author and vintage-dress lover Dawn O’Porter lives in LA with her husband of 10 years, the actor Chris O’Dowd, their two children – Art, seven, and five-year-old Valentine – and two cats and two dogs.

Born in Alexandria and raised on Guernsey, Dawn has presented several TV documentaries including Super Slim Me and has been a novelist since 2006. Her latest bestseller, Cat Lady, is a hilarious, heart-warming must-read. Dawn is also co-founder of Choose Love, a charity that provides humanitarian support for refugees.

What are the first three things you do when you wake up?
I recently rescued two dogs and I have two children, so usually the first thing I do when I wake up is scream: ‘Shut up!’ Someone is making too much noise. If it’s my morning – because Chris and I alternate – I will get up. Then I’ll get the puppy out of her crate, take her downstairs and put her in the garden before she makes a mess of the house. And then I will make coffee and take it to my husband in bed, but if it’s his morning he’s the one bringing me the coffee.

What’s your most used emoji?
Weirdly, I had this very thought yesterday. I was having a text conversation with someone and I thought to myself: ‘You’ve used that [laughing] emoji too many times in this conversation. It’s looking as a writer like you just can’t think of any words.’ But I just think it’s the quickest way to acknowledge that someone said something funny in a text conversation. The other one that I use far too much is the aubergine emoji, but I won’t go into the details about that. 

What’s your healthiest habit?
I'm a massive foodie, but I’m good at making sure that I eat good food. So I don’t really eat any sugar. That’s not a decision that I made, I just don’t really like it. So I’m quite lucky there. But I’d say that my healthiest habit is that I make sure I’ve eaten lots of vegetables. I can look at a huge menu in a restaurant and go for the healthier option if that’s what my body needs, especially if I feel like I’ve been going over the top. I know when I’ve had too much. Spinach is the king of vegetables because there’s so much you can do with it – I put it into a juice or a smoothie, fry it and chop it up in things like crab cakes. It’s a good all-rounder.

What’s the weirdest utensil in your kitchen drawer?
A spatula covered in cats. If I got into a kitchen shop and there’s a novelty item with cats on it, I have to buy it.

What does an average day at home look like for you?
I will get dressed and put on good, colourful clothes every day, along with full hair and makeup even though I never leave the house – I need to feel like I’m going to work. When Chris is home, he’ll walk the dogs, but when he’s off filming, I’ll do it.

I usually get to my desk around 10am, where I sit with a bowl of snacks and a huge bottle of water and I write until around 12.30 or 1pm. Then I go downstairs to get some lunch and usually eat that at my desk and carry on writing or recording podcasts or doing whatever I’m doing until around four o’clock. Then I walk the dogs again and prep whatever the kids are having for dinner. I’ll pick the kids up at around five because they do after-school care, which is wonderful, and then it’s all about them until about 7.30pm when I put them to bed.

What’s for lunch?
I’m gluten-free, annoyingly, which makes sandwiches quite hard because they’re always a little bit disappointing. I do make toasted sandwiches quite a lot. It varies: I love making a big salad, sometimes I order sushi or I love a soup. Sometimes if I’m really busy, I just kind of eat crisps and dips all day and I don’t break for lunch.

What’s the unhealthiest thing we’d find in your kitchen?
Probably the crisps and dips. Salty carbs all the way. My kids came home with a box of doughnuts yesterday and it’s like I don’t even see them, but if they bring sausage rolls or crisps I just stuff my face. You always know when I’ve been on a deadline because I’ve eaten them for three months solid. It happens every single time I write a book.

What would you save if your house was on fire?
I actually had this moment happen a few months ago when I thought the house was going to burn down because there was a leak coming through a light in the ceiling, so I packed a bag. Obviously passports were the number-one thing because we travel so much. But what was funny about it was that after my many years of collecting vintage clothing and working very hard on the contents of my wardrobe, the only thing I packed was a rainbow poncho someone had given me a couple of weeks before.

I went to bed that night wearing quite good, chic, black pyjamas, which I wouldn’t normally do. So I thought if it all goes wrong, I’ve got these pyjamas and I can just whack on a rainbow poncho for some colour.

Up until about a year ago, I used to have a silk sleep hat, a silk eye mask and earplugs and I loved it. It’s like going into a cave

Dawn O’Porter,-Presenter and author

Where’s your happy place?
My kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I like going to Guernsey to see my family and I love London more than anywhere else in the world, but if I had to pick right now, the place where I’m happiest in my day-to-day life is in my kitchen with the radio on, cooking food. We’ve been living in Los Angeles for 15 years now and I don’t go on Twitter or search for news so I listen to NPR to find out what’s happening.

What’s on your bedside table?
A light, a phone charger, some earplugs, sleeping pills, a book and a glass of water. I’m an embarrassingly slow reader, but I’m a quarter of the way through Isaac And The Egg by Bobby Palmer. It’s very odd and not what I’d usually read, but someone handed it to me on my book tour so I packed it in my suitcase and I’m giving it a go.

Do you have any sleep rituals?
Sleep is an issue in my life. I go through stages of doing fine and doing badly. I cannot sleep without earplugs and I find that if my kid wakes up I can still hear them, but it muffles out all of that kind of excess noise of a dog scratching on the floor. 

Up until about a year ago, I used to have a silk sleep hat, a silk eye mask and earplugs and I loved it. It’s like going into a cave. And then I just started to feel really sorry for my husband, essentially sleeping next to a mummy that’s all wrapped up. I lost the silk, but I’m keeping the earplugs.

What would you spend £50 on in John Lewis?
I love the makeup and all of those little bits, and I can spend a good hour just putting different colours on the back of my hand, testing out eyeliners. I definitely don’t think I’d go beyond the ground floor – everything I love is down there. 

I’d probably come out with a headscarf and a scented candle with all the makeup and so I need to get something like that. I love [Diptyque] Baie candles – when we got married, I sprayed the whole room with that smell before everyone came in, so whenever I smell that I’m taken back to that lovely day.

Dawn’s fabulous podcast, Get It On, is available wherever you get your podcasts. Her latest book, Cat Lady, is out now

Dawn’s fabulous podcast, Get It On, is available wherever you get your podcasts. Her latest book, Cat Lady, is out now

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