Patrick has just walked into the room with his face (and most of the rest of him) covered in chocolate ice cream. He's having a good day - this is his third helping and he's not even out of his pyjamas - but he's come to tell me that I'm a Mean Mum because I didn't let him have "squirty cream" on it. I started my usual speech about Having to Draw the Line Somewhere, but he'd already left the room to sulk in front of Cartoon Network.
If Patrick had been a bit more thoughtful, he'd have hung around to hear another of my favourite speeches, too; the one about how, in my day, ice cream was a rare treat, not something to be guzzled on a daily basis before breakfast. I remember, on special occasions, my dad taking me to our local ice cream parlour for a knickerbocker glory. The anticipation was as delicious as the big event itself, but last time I tried to explain all this to my son, he just gave me a glazed look and reminded me to buy strawberry syrup next time I went shopping.
However, there are some advantages to living with an ice cream addict. He's a walking, talking connoisseur; a gold mine of information on all things vanilla (or chocolate, or strawberry...). If ever you're stuck for a decent gelato joint, he's guaranteed to have the scoop on the best in the vicinity. And, in an exclusive deal with The Independent on Sunday, he's kindly agreed to share his top five chill-out zones.
First is Gay's Creamery in Dawlish, Devon (01626 863341), 20 Brunswick Place. This holds a special spot in Patrick's heart not only because it serves ices made from fresh Devonshire cream, but also because, if you ask nicely, you can have it topped with a gigantic dollop of the clotted variety, just to give your arteries a double whammy.
Second, because it provides the sort of sugary cones that have Patrick bouncing off the walls, is Ives Ice Cream Parlour (01728 452264) 160 High Street, Aldeburgh. There are 30 flavours to choose from, so we're going back for a month next time so that my little treasure can taste a different one every day.
Third on the list comes Joe's Ice Cream Parlour (01792 368212), 640 Mumbles Road, Swansea. There are three branches altogether, and you have to go to all of them if you're with Patrick. Its ice cream is made with some kind of secret ingredient that means you won't find anything anywhere else that tastes quite like it, according to the expert.
Then there's our secret venue: the Grand Hotel (01273 224 300), King's Road, Brighton - not somewhere you'd immediately think of to take your screaming brood, but that's the joy of it. Leave the seafront crowds for a very decent ice cream in luxurious and surprisingly child-friendly surroundings.
Last but by no means least is Casa Manzi (020-7482 9000) - also known as Marine Ices) - at 8 Haverstock Hill, London NW3. Its gorgeous water ices are made with fresh fruit, and the great atmosphere has made it a family favourite for nearly 40 years - it's where my old dad used to take me for those delicious knickerbocker glories, and it hasn't changed a bit in all those years. It's nice to know some things stay the same. I can feel another speech coming on.
Katy Holland ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is deputy editor of 'Mother and Baby' and motherandbabymagazine.com
Katy's top tip
Create your very own ice cream parlour at home with a copy of Old Fashioned Ice Cream: 58 Original Recipes by Thomas R Quinn (available on amazon.co.uk).
Or savour some real Italian ice cream at home.
Carluccio's Caffes sell traditionally made 'Gelati Artigianali' in a range of intense flavours - strawberry, vanilla and more. Take-away boxes cost £4 for 500ml.Reuse content