Dunking churros into chocolate sauce, with her mouth full, Katie Piper mutters, "I’m going to have to eat a few of these, sorry, this is my dinner," she explains, as a blob of chocolate sauce lands on her trousers.
"This is the first time I’ve worn trousers with a zip since I gave birth and now look what I’ve done!" she says rolling her eyes.
It’s been a mere eight weeks since Katie’s little girl Penelope arrived , making Belle, three, a big sister. But Katie, dressed in smart (and now chocolatey) trousers, a polka dot blouse, black heels and with big bouncy hair, doesn’t look like she’s running on empty.
"I keep forgetting I have make-up on and rubbing my eyes, but I had no problem coming out. My husband secretly wanted me to leave the house I think," she says with a smile.
Katie’s husband of three years, Rich, is a hands on dad, and makes sure the sleepless nights aren’t all on Mum.
"I have a nice modern husband so we split it. I get three hours sleep, then he gets up the next time she cries. He doesn’t see it as my role and I couldn’t have married someone who thinks of it like that. But you have to get on with it. When you have a young child you don’t sleep. But one day they’ll leave home and never come back and then I can sleep as much as I want."© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Splash
Katie’s positive attitude radiates from her. She’s smiley, confident, self-deprecating, funny and gives us her undivided attention. It’s no wonder she’s made a name for herself in the public after her nightmare as a survivor of an acid attack 10 years ago.
She’s telling us all about her next project, a tour of the country with a one-woman show called What’s In My Head.
"People usually talk to me about quite dark subjects and know me because of what happened to me. But my journey is so much more than that. The show is emotional, it’s self help, it has music and dancing, and it has humour, too."
We struggle to imagine what parts of Katie’s past could be told with humour, but Katie explains: "I just don’t take myself too seriously. I’ve been in so many situations where, if I don’t laugh, I’d just cry. I want people to know that using humour in recovery can work.
"I love having a laugh and a joke. I do have to wear lycra and do a forward roll as part of the show, which I’m not looking forward to, but if people come it will all be worth it."
And come they will. But how will she juggle a nationwide tour with a newborn baby?
"Penelope will come with me which Belle will hate. But If I can drive home each night I will as much as possible. And my mum will help us out where she can, too."
Mum Diane was Katie’s rock after the acid attack in 2008. She took compassionate leave to look after her, and it’s clear Katie is beyond appreciative of that.© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Rex
"She’s just a great grandma," she beams, "Because she’s an ex school teacher she is disciplined. She tells them off, helps them with homework, but is supportive and helps me so much. I admire her strength more than anything."
As well as going on tour, Katie is releasing her sixth book next week. From Mother To Daughter features extracts from her own mum’s personal diary, written while she nursed Katie through her surgeries after the attack.
"I’d never read anything like that before," says Katie. "It upset me. It was very hard to hear what she went through and it’s private information. So the book is more of an autobiography for the two of us. I didn’t want it to be a parenting book. This is about being a woman in the modern world. What do you do when your child or mother goes through trauma? It touches on taboo subjects and it’s full-on. But it’s crucial reading for people who have real issues."
Since 2008, Katie has had over 250 gruelling operations as surgeons rebuilt her face, chest and hands after they were severely burned by sulphuric acid. Her mum not only nursed her, but supported her emotionally. Then four years ago, Katie found herself doing the same for her mum after she was diagnosed with cancer.© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA
"She found out she had cancer a few weeks after she retired and I felt really sad for her. I thought after all she’d done for me she could have a relaxing retirement, but instead she’s just spent it having chemo and being sick. It’s easy to think, 'Why my mum? She’s done so much for others and doesn’t deserve it,' but really, a lot of people are worse off.
"A positive is that the cancer is responding to treatment and she’s alive. Some people get diagnosed and are dead within a few weeks. Whereas I have just had a new granddaughter for her. My sister had her baby five months back and my brother’s baby is about to be born any day now.
"She’s so lucky she is here for the grandkids. And she never, ever makes a fuss. Despite how cr*p it is. She is always cheery and insists she’s fine," she says with a smile. "That’s just what mums do."
It’s no secret that giving birth to your own baby can give you a different perspective on your relationship with your own parents, but with two little girls, how does Katie reflect on her childhood growing up?
"Oh God. The first thing I thought when I gave birth was, 'Oh sh*t, sorry Mum,'" she says with a loud laugh.
"All the times I’d say, 'I can smoke if I want,' or 'I’m dating this crazy boy,' I mean, you just feel awful. Having a baby basically makes you feel like you were the world’s biggest b***h to your mum. When I thought my mum was a nosey old whatever, now I know it came from that unconditional love."
Teenage years aside, Katie assures us she had an amazing childhood, (‘I was obsessed with lying on a blue rug pretending I was swimming in the ocean, not like these millennials!’) but we imagine it must be difficult to let her traumatic experiences not come into her mind with her own parenting.
"I really try not to be too protective. I can’t be too over the top and pass on any anxiety to my children," she explains. "If Belle falls over, I just give whatever hurts a rub and tell her she is brave. I don’t want her coming back from school in floods of tears, I want her independent and strong."
Because Katie’s hospital treatments are ongoing, it’s something her daughter Belle is used to now, and she’s started to ask about her mum’s scars.
"She mainly asks about my hands. I just tell her I was burnt when I was younger, It did hurt, but it doesn’t hurt now. All she says really is, 'Be careful of your other hand,' when I’m near the oven. Cheers for the health and safety lecture Belle! But if she asks how I was burnt, I’ll tell her the truth."© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: katiepiper_/Instagram
Katie is still chomping down on the churros, (having sponged the chocolate sauce off her trousers) while she explains to us just how important confidence is when it comes to body image.
"Yeah, my body has changed since having children, but I know my partner loves me for me. If my body doesn’t look the same right now or even ever again, real love is deep rooted on the inside. Human soul and spirit is far more important than good looks or being thin or wealthy. If you’re dying, can looks save you? No. Confidence always comes from the inside. And no one is perfect."
There’s something about talking to Katie that is hugely uplifting. She’s always refused to be a victim, and after pursuing a career in the public eye as a TV presenter before her attack, Katie has overcome her injuries and become a star in her own right. But her charity, The Katie Piper Foundation , which supports burns survivors during and post recovery, is her biggest passion.
"It’s a full-time job," she beams, "Which I love. It’s run by me, I am a mentor there, I hold the board meetings and do the staff appraisals.
I had a few survivors from the charity round my house today," she laughs.© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: WireImage
The mentoring side of the charity is very important to her.
"I always use my own experiences to talk to them. I say, 'How you feel now might feel dreadful and hopeless but you will not always feel this way.' It’s hard to have perspective in dark times but I hope that hearing it from someone who has been through it will give them comfort," she says with a smile.
As Katie gets ready to head home and back to baby duties, we ask her how it feels looking back at her old self: the girl who felt so desperate, she wrote a note to her mum in hospital asking her to kill her.
"I am so different now. Sometimes you’ve just got to stop feeling sorry for yourself. It isn’t productive at all. Tough love has been important to me. When everything happened, I remember my mum saying, 'Oh just get on with it, Katie. This is permanent so we need to accept it and move on.' And that’s because she wanted me to rebuild who I was. She gave me the confidence to say, 'I’m not going back to my old life, and that’s OK. Instead, I’m building a whole new one.'"
How does Katie spend her Sunday?
Lie-in or early rise?
Early. At 6am Belle comes in and jumps on my head, goes on my phone and canes my data watching Elsa and Anna on YouTube until the dog starts howling so we all have to get up.
Lunch out or roast at home?
We live near loads of nice pubs and it’s good to get out on a Sunday. Tire the kids out a bit.
TV or papers?
We’ll most likely be watching a Disney film at the moment.
Chores or relaxing?
Neither. We all do some arts and crafts together so I feel like Belle’s had her fun fix. Even though she always wants to paint my eyelids with nail varnish! She likes ballet and swimming so she goes there on a Sunday sometimes and we sit on the sideline watching it all.
Hungover or fresh as a daisy?
Neither because I can’t get p****d as I’m up every three hours. So not hungover but certainly not fresh.
Tickets for What's In My Head are available at venue box offices and through Katie's website: Katiepiperandyou.co.u
Tickets for What's In My Head are available at venue box offices and through Katie's website:>
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